While the White House and Congress are haggling over how to best bail out Wall Street’s ailing financial markets, at least two conservative House members are using this moment of crisis to push their pet issue. On her blog yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) announced that she was joining Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) call for the bailout package to be accompanied by legislation that would “open up” the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and Outer Continental Shelf to new oil drilling.
In a letter to President Bush, Barton and Bachmann argue that increased drilling would “offset some of the liability” of the eventual bailout of Wall Street:
As we work to strengthen our markets through an assistance package, we should also offset some of the liability, without raising taxes. This package should contain some means to pay at least part of the cost of rescuing these financial giants, and do it without asking the taxpayers to shoulder a burden which is, after all, not their responsibility. We therefore encourage you to include legislative language that would open up ANWR to leasing, along with the Outer Continental Shelf of the Eastern Gulf.
Bachmann and Barton’s effort to use the financial crisis to push the unrelated issue of drilling is reminiscent of President Bush’s exploitation of Hurricane Gustav to argue for more drilling. Earlier this month, Bush used a press briefing on the “follow-up efforts” to Hurricane Gustav to attack Congress about lifting the offshore drilling moratorium. Watch it:
In her blog post, Bachmann calls her drilling push an “innovative” solution “to help us navigate through our current financial crisis.” But in reality, it is the same type of tasteless politicization that Bush attempted with Hurricane Gustav.