Kobach, abortion and the president's power
The Kansas City Star
Gusher of a myth
President Barack Obama has been hard at work driving down gasoline prices around the nation and in the Kansas City area, where they have fallen 15 percent just this month.
Thank goodness the President of the United States still has the power to control the price of fuel.
We’re kidding, people!
Politicians of both parties too often are tempted to use the cost of gasoline as a political cudgel.
Democrats did it a few times when George W. Bush was president, once passing a bill demanding that he halt efforts to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That was aimed at saving a few pennies a gallon for consumers but it also endangered the country’s ability to provide enough oil in a national emergency.
More recently, Mitt Romney and other Republicans have been grousing about the cost of gasoline, pinning much of the blame on the policies of Obama.
It’s another misfire. Politicians, including the president, do not have much influence over near-term gasoline prices. And their long-term power ain’t that great, either.
Instead, as energy experts and consultants make clear, oil is a commodity traded worldwide. So the price is established by what’s going on around the globe. Is consumption up in China? That’s going to allow producers to boost prices. Are major economies tanking, reducing demand for oil? That’s going to put pressure on producers to lower costs. Oh, and how’s the political tension in the Middle East? How’s the weather out there; is it forcing refineries or drilling rigs to close down?
Yes, this country can make some long-term changes to slowly boost production. That’s been happening with the fracking boom in North Dakota and elsewhere. In fact (Republicans, hide your eyes), U.S. crude oil production has risen in Obama’s first three full years in office.
Boosting the efficiency of the nation’s fleet of cars and trucks also could help drive down demand. Obama has led the way in crafting agreements with carmakers to build vehicles getting an average of 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025, double the current requirement.
Still — like Bush and other presidents before him — Obama has very little control over the price of gasoline in this country.
Kobach’s wandering ways
Apparently unchastened by a fledgling recall effort that accuses him of being “derelict in his duties,” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has signed on to represent Mississippi in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over President Obama’s executive order to allow some children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant contends Obama’s order will cost the state money for education, law enforcement, health care and other services. According to the Jackson (Miss.) Free Press, Kobach is representing Mississippi at no charge.
A Topeka activist, Sonny Scroggins, has filed notice with the state of Kansas to launch a recall petition against Kobach, claiming in part that his immigration work prevents him from fulfilling his duties.
The recall effort faces a high bar. But perhaps Kobach is paying attention, after all. Recently, he’s at least been sticking close to the Kansas state line. He’s been barnstorming around Missouri with secretary of state candidate Shane Schoeller on Schoeller’s “show me voter ID” tour.
Kobach is also scheduled to attend a “power lunch” at Brio on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City on Wednesday with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Todd Akin, the GOP candidate for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat.
Kobach does seem to be exceptionally busy right around election time, when most secretaries of state hunker down to try to ensure that everything goes well at the polling places.
But we have doubts about Scroggins’ effort. Recalls are difficult to accomplish under the most egregious of circumstances. And, given that nearly everything Kobach undertakes is controversial, many Kansans might prefer that he spend his time out of state.
Nearly 40 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision made abortion legal, its fallout continues to scar the political landscape.
With lawmakers in state legislatures and Congress seeking ever more restrictive laws, politicians are now fielding questions about just how far they would go to limit abortions. The topic has become a minefield from some candidates — think Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana — but it’s clearly not going to go away.
So what do you think?
Be legal, especially in the early stages of pregnancy.
Be illegal in all cases.
Be banned except for cases of rape and/or incest.
Be illegal except to save the life of the mother.
Go to Midwest Debate at kansascity.com/opinion to record your choice and tell us why in the comments section.