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Blowback is beautiful

Gas relief, indeed: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tenn., second from right, is joined by fellow Republicans during a Capitol Hill news conference to discuss a gas price relief plan, From left are Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., and Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

Who the blazes thought sending a $100 gas tax “rebate” to taxpayers to mitigate the spiraling gas prices was a bright idea? Frist, if this is your baby, kiss 2008 goodbye. The GOP shell game is over, and the sheeple will have none of it.

Look at the “plan” that was floated to the press:

Under the proposal, $100 checks would be sent late this summer to an estimated 100 million taxpayers, regardless of car ownership. Single taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above about $146,000 would be ineligible for the checks, as would couples earning more than about $219,000. The $100 figure was determined by Mr. Frist’s office, which calculated that the average driver would pay about $11 per month in federal gas taxes over nine months.

Jeezus, the party is desperate. So you don’t even need to have a car, which is ostensibly the only reason you would need to receive the bribe, unless you count everyone who owns a gas-powered mower, right?

This idea was so lame-brained that even the conservatives went ballistic and the sheeple smelled a big GOP rat and picked up the phone, and launched a torrent of missives to the Hill.

Aides for several Republican senators reported a surge of calls and e-mail messages from constituents ridiculing the rebate as a paltry and transparent effort to pander to voters before the midterm elections in November.

“The conservatives think it is socialist bunk, and the liberals think it is conservative trickery,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, pointing out that the criticism was coming from across the ideological spectrum.

Angry constituents have asked, “Do you think we are prostitutes? Do you think you can buy us?” said another Republican senator’s aide, who was granted anonymity to openly discuss the feedback because the senator had supported the plan. [that spine went on vacation, huh?]

Conservative talk radio hosts have been particularly vocal. “What kind of insult is this?” Rush Limbaugh asked on his radio program on Friday. “Instead of buying us off and treating us like we’re a bunch of whores, just solve the problem.” In commentary on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume called the idea “silly.”

Rush is a little late with that observation, isn’t he? Take note, people, this may be the last time you read David Winston’s name in conjunction with work for the GOP:

David Winston, a Republican pollster who advises the Senate Republican leadership, called the rebate an intuitive way to show voters that Republicans were on their side. “It is like putting the American family budget ahead of oil company profits,” Mr. Winston said. “How do you help the American families out? Well, give them some money.”

See The Moderate Voice for more.

UPDATE 1: The Dark Wraith has a most excellent suggestion for use of the $100 over at his pad, which he linked to in the comments.

If the hundred dollar checks are indeed disbursed pursuant to an Act of Congress approved by the President, all who are opposed to the Republicans pledge as follows: Upon receiving the check for the sum of One Hundred dollars ($100.00), I shall immediately sign the back of the draft and send it to the non-Republican political party or candidate of my choice.

The Republicans will, then, have instituted de facto public campaign financing on a scale that could rival any formal campaign finance reform proposal. If one million households were to honor the pledge suggested above, one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) would flow into the coffers of the Democrats, the Greens, and other non-Republicans for the 2006/2008 election cycle. If the Republicans in Congress chose not to back down from their hare-brained, transparent vote-buying scheme, they would stand their shaky ground knowing very well that the commitment of non-Republicans to use their checks this way would be far greater than that of Republican voters to use their checks to support the GOP, especially considering how unpopular the Republicans are as we head into the jaws of the 2006 campaign season.

UPDATE 2: Damn. DW’s idea was too good to be true — Frist deep-sixed his $100 idea:

Frist Backs Down on Accounting Provision Repeal.

Rapidly backing down under intense pressure from business groups, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has decided that the repeal of a popular business accounting practice will no longer be part of the energy package GOP leaders hope to move this week.

Frist said Monday that the plan to pay for a $100 gas rebate to 100 million Americans by changing accounting practices known as “last-in, first-out� was dead.

Hat tip Holly

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding