Mix of market forces, government policies drive gas prices

Paul Gessing
NMPoliticsWhen it comes to prices at the pump, there is no conspiracy, but there are a number of complicated factors at playGas prices. The mere mention brings to mind conspiracy theories and worries over “big oil” among many Americans. After a lengthy run-up earlier in the spring, prices have declined several weeks in a row, causing the media to focus attention elsewhere, but it is worth discussing factors affecting gas prices, even when they are declining. To that end, I will speak as part of a panel at a luncheon with several national and local experts in Albuquerque on May 30. Despite recent declines, gas prices remain relatively elevated in historical terms. Below, I’ll discuss various players in terms of gas prices and will explain the impact of each in determining the prices we pay at the pump. 
President Obama and congressional Democrats. The Obama Administration has pushed a variety of anti-energy policies since his election. The most prominent and controversial of these was “cap and trade.” Fortunately, “cap and trade” failed, but that does not clear Obama and his allies in Congress who have continued to oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and recently killed the Keystone XL pipeline. The Obama Administration has also placed strict limits on offshore drilling. It is true enough, as liberals may respond, that changing these policies tomorrow would not have an immediate impact on oil prices, but having leadership in this country that is pro-energy development would signal to the markets that America is serious about leading on energy. This would put downward pressure on high prices. Read more News New Mexico


Getting beyond ‘silos’ in NM film, tourism

New Mexico Business Weekly It was interesting to hear Don Gray say New Mexico is missing a huge opportunity by not leveraging its success in the film industry into more tourism dollars. I wrote about Gray’s presentation at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Taos in the Business Weekly’s May 25 print edition. He is the locations coordinator for the New Mexico Film Office. Since I cover both industries, I’ve wondered why there isn’t more cross-fertilization. I tell people constantly that a film or TV show was shot in New Mexico. They usually had no idea. As Gray pointed out, we all know “Lord of the Rings” was shot in New Zealand because New Zealand worked hard to get that message out. I have heard the theme of “silos” come up often in regard to New Mexico, most recently at the Coronado Ventures Forum session on mobile app development. Before that, it was a theme in a study by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research on the economic impact of the arts and cultural industries in Bernalillo County. The gist of these discussions was that silos — when industries operate in isolation — curtail the sharing of ideas across industries, sectors and individuals, which will kill innovation. New Mexico can’t afford that. Read More News New Mexico


The Amazing Senatorial Gender Pay Gap

Free Beacon - A group of Democratic female senators on Wednesday declared war on the so-called “gender pay gap,” urging their colleagues to pass the aptly named Paycheck Fairness Act when Congress returns from recess next month. However, a substantial gender pay gap exists in their own offices, a Washington Free Beacon analysis of Senate salary data reveals. Of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.
Murray, who has repeatedly accused Republicans of waging a “war a women,” is one of the worst offenders. Female members of Murray’s staff made about $21,000 less per year than male staffers in 2011, a difference of 35.2 percent.
That is well above the 23 percent gap that Democrats claim exists between male and female workers nationwide. The figure is based on a 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report, and is technically accurate. However, as CNN’s Lisa Sylvester has reported, when factors such as area of employment, hours of work, and time in the workplace are taken into account, the gap shrinks to about 5 percent.
A significant “gender gap” exists in Feinstein’s office, where women also made about $21,000 less than men in 2011, but the percentage difference—41 percent—was even higher than Murray’s.
Boxer’s female staffers made about $5,000 less, a difference of 7.3 percent.
The Free Beacon used publicly available salary data from the transparency website Legistorm to calculate the figures, and considered only current full-time staff members who were employed for the entirety of fiscal year 2011. The employee gender pay gap among Senate Democrats was not limited to Murray, Boxer, and Feinstein. Of the 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus examined in the analysis, 37 senators paid their female staffers less than male staffers. Senators elected in 2010—Joe Manchin, Chris Coons, and Richard Blumenthal—were not considered due to incomplete salary data.
Women working for Senate Democrats in 2011 pulled in an average salary of $60,877. Men made about $6,500 more. While the gap is significant, it is slightly smaller than that of the White House, which pays men about $10,000, or 13 percent, more on average, according to a previous Free Beacon analysis. The pay differential is quite striking in some cases, especially among leading Democrats. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), who runs the Senate Democratic messaging operation, paid men $19,454 more on average, a 36 percent difference. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) paid men $13,063 more, a difference of 23 percent. Other notable Senators whose “gender pay gap” was larger than 23 percent:
•Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)—47.6 percent
•Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.)—40 percent
•Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.)—34.2 percent
•Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.)—31.5 percent
•Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.)—30.4 percent
•Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.)–29.7 percent
•Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.)–29.2 percent
•Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.)—26.5 percent
•Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore)—26.4 percent
•Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa)—23.2 percent
Sen. Sanders, who is an avowed socialist who caucuses with the Democrats, has the worst gender gap by far. He employed more men (14) than women (10), and his chief of staff is male. Like many of his fellow partisans, he has previously accused Republicans of “trying to roll back the clock on women’s rights.” Read full story here: News New Mexico

Bloomberg Reporter Either Uninformed or a Liar

Meera Louis
It has been widely reported in the news that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner says “paralysis” in the U.S. political system has worsened the nation’s economic challenges. The problem with the media is there are too many journalists who are either terribly uninformed or worse yet unrepentant liars. A case in point is an article posted by Bloomberg. It purports to explain from U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's view what part of the problem with the U.S. economy is. That is fine and dandy until this phrase is presented as "news."
"Republicans rejected President Barack Obama’s $3.8 trillion election-year budget plan, saying it didn’t go far enough to reduce the deficit or boost economic growth. Obama’s proposed budget, while initially boosting the U.S. economy, would later this decade become a drag on growth, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said April 20."
The truth is both DEMOCRATS and Republicans REJECTED the president's budget. In fact, the aforementioned budget submitted by President Obama did not garner a single vote from a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year when it was defeated 411 - 0. Of course, last year in a vote in U.S. Senate, President Obama's budget was defeated 97 - 0. Again it did not garner a single vote from a DEMOCRAT. Bloomberg news writer Meera Louis is one of two things, 1) a completely uninformed journalist without a clue as to how to gather and  present ALL relevant facts, or 2) a bald-faced partisan liar who could toss aside all sense of honesty and simply report what Geithner said about paralysis, without pointing out that in the last two votes on the president's budget, he has not picked up a single vote from EITHER PARTY in either house of Congress and has lost by a count of 508 - 0.
To make it seem through omission and fact massaging that only Republicans rejected the Obama budget is the sort of reporting that usually goes completely unchallenged every day in America and in New Mexico.


Public Union Overreach in Wisconsin

Linda Chavez
Townhall - The Wisconsin recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker is not going quite like the unions and the Democratic Party expected. Back in 2011, many pundits thought that the governor had overreached when he took on public employee unions, restricting -- though not eliminating -- collective bargaining rights. But he did so because he inherited a state in dire financial shape with a deficit of $3.6 billion and public employee pensions and benefits that threatened to bankrupt the state.
When a Republican-controlled legislature tried to pass legislation to rein in the abuses, Democratic representatives literally fled the state to make a vote impossible. As a result of some clever parliamentary footwork that separated fiscal items in the bill so that a quorum would not be required to pass the legislation, Walker managed to get the bill passed. The unions sued, unsuccessfully, and the bill became law, incurring the wrath of Wisconsin's powerful unions -- public and private sector. They launched a successful recall petition drive and, for awhile, it looked like Walker might pay for his temerity with his job.
The latest polls in the state show Walker in the lead against his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by 5-8 points. What's more, Walker has raised vastly more funds than Barrett, some $25 million to Barrett's $831,000 (though unions and Democratic groups will spend much more on his behalf). But the real problem for Barrett is that Walker's medicine, though unpleasant for many union members, has helped bring the state's economy back to a more healthy position. Read full column here: News New Mexico


Wildfire Smoke Triggers Alert

Smoke in Mesilla Valley
KOAT TV - The Environmental Health Department's Air Quality Division issued an extended health alert due to wildfire smoke. The health alert is in effect from Thursday at 11 p.m. to Sunday at 3 p.m. Smoke from the Whitewater-Baldy fire complex could move into Albuquerque Thursday and linger through Friday morning. City officials said air quality may deteriorate further Friday afternoon as southwest winds push smoke directly toward Albuquerque. Poor air quality may continue Saturday and possibly into Sunday morning. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Johnson Launches Ad Campaign

Obama's Secret Weapon? - Gary Johnson
NewsNM note (Spence) - The Obama Administration has a golden opportunity right under its nose. It is the presidential candidacy of former NM Governor Gary Johnson. Every vote cast for Johnson is a vote Mitt Romney won't get. Obama doesn't have a record to sell to independents. He should funnel money to Johnson and sell his record. KOB TV - Gary Johnson continues his long shot against-the-odds campaign for the U.S. presidency, with a new internet ad that hits hard on the issue of war and peace. The new ad for the Libertarian Party candidate is so simple and direct, that it's almost staggering in today's political climate.
It’s the stuff politicos call "red meat".
The ad does a slow pull from a crowd of people and tilts its perspective to reveal the peace symbol - the image that galvanized the antiwar movement in Johnson's own youth more than 40 years ago.
It's an unmistakable message that reverberates with millions of Americans - yet you won't see it in the mainstream campaigns of Democrats and Republicans. It's a message Johnson has stuck with since his switch from republican to Libertarian last December, and his successful quest for that party's presidential nomination.
"I'm doing this today because this is agenda that I think resonates with most Americans," Johnson said in his formal Libertarian announcement last December. "It's an agenda that's not being addressed by either political party." In fact Johnson was anti-war while he was running for the Republican nomination last year, and even came out against the American invasion of Iraq while he was still governor of New Mexico. Read full story here: News New Mexico