SIX YEARS AGO, Jeanne Shaheen was quick to attack then-Sen. John Sununu on the cost of gasoline. This was a time when New Hampshire consumers were paying around $4 a gallon. In television ads and on the stump, Shaheen argued that the senator deserved blame for not doing more to bring prices down.
Her supporters even held protests at his offices to highlight her position. One of her supporters went so far as to dress up as a gas pump to follow Sen. Sununu around at events claiming he wasn’t doing enough to “help the middle-class” deal with fuel prices. A creative way to highlight an issue? Possibly. Completely hypocritical in hindsight when reflecting on her first term? Absolutely.
Despite their outrage in 2008, these same Shaheen supporters are nowhere to be found in 2014 despite gas prices currently climbing to $3.90 per gallon in some parts of our state. While they were quick to criticize former Sen. Sununu, they haven’t been demonstrating outside Sen. Shaheen’s offices or following her around in costumes at her events. If the issue is that her supporters have misplaced their gas pump outfit over the years, I would be happy to provide them with a new one, but I doubt that’s the case.
Sen. Shaheen is not much better than her supporters when it comes to hypocrisy on the issue. Now that she is in Washington, you don’t hear her talking much about how those on Capitol Hill are letting down New Hampshire families with their inaction to reduce fuel costs. Her press conferences in front of gas stations are long gone. Her expensive commercials are a thing of the past. Her scripted talking points and incessant blaming have faded from memory. However, with Granite Staters becoming increasingly tired of higher costs at the pump, they deserve answers as to why she has gone silent on such an important issue.
You really can’t blame Sen. Shaheen for going into hiding with the record she has, but it is important to point out that six years ago last week, Jeanne Shaheen released an ambitious (although misguided) plan to lower gas prices. Considering this anniversary and her incessant finger pointing years ago, it is only fair to remind her that we are in no better shape now than we were when she insisted $4-a-gallon gasoline was Sen. Sununu’s fault.
In typical liberal fashion, her plan singled out “Big Oil” and promised that she would fight to decrease our dependency on foreign fuel sources. Yet, when given the opportunity to do something about it over the past six years, she opposed projects such as the popular Keystone Pipeline and has refused to support legislation that would expand drilling for new oil within the United States and along the Continental Shelf. She was even caught at a recent event in Portsmouth saying that she would support an increase in the federal gas tax.
Almost everyone agrees that we would be better off by reducing our dependency on Middle Eastern oil. However, what Sen. Shaheen fails to realize is that an all-of-the-above plan to do that must include increasing our domestic exploration.
Let me give her another tip. While this should go without saying, if she still wants to decrease gas prices, then she might want to reconsider her belief that hiking that federal gas tax is a good idea.
While we shouldn’t have expected much from Jeanne Shaheen considering her puddle-deep proposal when she was on the stump, it is a shame that she wasted her entire first term in the U.S. Senate doing nothing to reduce gas prices for her constituents. Six years ago she was quick to attack a former U.S. senator for what she called a lack of action to reduce gas prices. What does she have to say for herself, considering we are in the same position today regardless of her tenure on Capitol Hill?
In all seriousness, perhaps it is time for Sen. Shaheen’s supporters to finally break out the gas pump costume. If they still have it, but don’t want to wear it to shed light on her inaction, there are several Granite Staters who are fed up with paying more at the pump. I assure them that there are many of us who would like to use it to remind Sen Shaheen of their frustration with her in 2014.
Mike Biundo of Manchester is a partner and cofounder at RightOn Strategies.