The Honorable John Dingell (D-MI) is currently what they call the "Dean" of the House of Representatives. He is the longest currently serving member in the House, and the 2nd longest serving in the nation's history. He was a major part of the first round of fuel efficiency standards in the 1970s, and got a 100% rating on environmental issues from the League of Conservation Voters for his votes in the 109th Congress (that last embarrassment of a Congress we had before the 2006 elections).
But he is doing something now that seems almost beyond cynical. He is introducing legislation that would put a 50 cent per gallon federal tax on gasoline. I think that's a great idea, and it's about time that someone proposed it. But that's not why Dingell is introducing it. According to his statements, it's to show just how little Americans are willing to sacrifice to address global warming, not because he wants to introduce good, sensible legislation that helps us deal with global warming and our dependence on foriegn oil. Here's what he said:
I sincerely doubt that the American people are willing to pay what this is really going to cost them.
And he's probably right. But I would expect that kind of comment from a friend or neighbor, not an elected representative who is supposed to be protecting the public interest. And it is in the public interest to reduce oil consumption and carbon emissions. So he should be displaying leadership. Not cynicism. But why should I be surpised? He comes from car country, and profits from the big 3. From the Wikipedia profile of Dingell:
The three largest contributors to his campaign for the 2006 election cycle are political action committees, employees, or other affiliates of General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and DaimlerChrysler; since 1989, intermediaries for these corporations have contributed more than $US 600,000 to his campaign. Dingell also holds an unknown quantity, more than $US 1 million, in assets through General Motors stock options and savings-stock purchase programs; his spouse, Debbie Dingell, worked as a lobbyist for the corporation until they married, whereupon she moved to an administrative position there. At present Ms. Dingell is a senior executive at General Motors and vice chair of the General Motors Foundation.
I really want to think that Dingell is doing this for the public good. But it sounds like he's just being a grumpy, cynical old man. We need fewer of those in Congress, not more.