WE NEED TO HEAD 'EM OFF AT THE PASS!
The offshore drilling moratorium has to be renewed every year. The "news media" hasn't been saying much about it, so many Americans are not aware of this. The GOP can huff and puff all it wants, but it represents little more than posturing for political advantage. There isn't any way Congress can get out of this without a vote on it before the legislative year ends in September anyway, because the moratorium has to be renewed every year. Or, the moratorium can simply be allowed to expire. Democrats won't let that happen.
If the Republicans threaten to "shut things down", will it work for them or against them this time? The last time they did it, it backfired.
The following is from http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitol-briefing/2008/07/is_a_government_shutdown_ahead.html :
"The question for Republicans in 2008 is whether the politics of a potential shutdown have shifted in their favor. Polls do show that a majority of the public wants more land opened to oil drilling, and the GOP may be gaining traction by blaming Democrats for blocking it. But at the same time, a showdown over the CR won't just be a referendum on whether to drill offshore. It will also be a debate Democrats will frame as about whether Republicans are willing to cut off government services for the elderly, children, puppies and any other innocent bystanders you can think of.
"So will Republicans risk facing that charge to force a change in drilling policy? And would President Bush back them up by refusing to sign a CR that includes a drilling ban? We're exactly two months from knowing the definitive answers to those questions. Stay tuned, and just to be safe, start hoarding candles and canned goods."
I think the Democrats had better have some kind of compromise deal all ready to go. They need to steal some of the GOP's thunder on this issue. It would be a better strategic move than putting up a fight over something that has become an emotional hot-button campaign issue. Also, the Dems will need to avoid giving the GOP the chance to paint them as "capitulators" if some kind of agreement is reached.
Whether Congress is going to let the offshore drilling moratorium expire or allow it go to a vote, the Dems need to be sure there are some things included in any deal that will have an actual effect on lowering gasoline prices. Increasing offshore oil drilling isn't going to decrease gas prices for a long time, and neither is drilling in the ANWR. Saying that over and over to the public is probably not going to make much difference, because the GOP has the momentum on this one. They have already effectively framed this issue, painting the Democrats as against measures that will lower gas prices.
The Democrats must come up with some solutions that will bring the prices down more quickly and they must get such things included in an agreement in Congress. It will be essential that they do it in a way that shows it is THEIR elements of the plan, not those stressed by the GOP, that will bring down the gas prices.
The Dems need to say to the Republicans "Sure we will go along with SOME of what you want to do. Not ALL, because your approach will not provide immediate relief to consumers and it will not promote independence from foreign oil. We will agree to SOME of your conditions, but only if you include some of OUR conditions." It is a matter of necessity that they stress, repeatedly and often, that the position the GOP is taking will not lead to lower gas prices.
In this way, the Dems show they are willing to compromise a bit without totally capitulating to the GOP. Total capitulation in this case would mean political disaster, and the Dems know this. They need to be very careful, and remember that compromise is not capitulation. It may be so in the Republican Party dictionary, but most Democratic voters and many Republican voters know better.