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MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Gas prices hurt out here among the lower quintiles

"I understand the folks here, as well as in other parts of the country, are paying high gas prices," President Bush said Saturday in California. "We're going to have a tough summer."

Well, maybe not all of us. In Beverly Hills the previous day, premium fuel was almost $4.05 a gallon for full service at a station frequented by the rich and famous. Not to worry. One man paid $88.41 for 21.8 gallons to fuel his new BMW.

"I didn't even look," he said, as quoted by The Los Angeles Times. "I was running out of gas. What was I going to do?"

Meanwhile, out in the real America, Kenneth and Edith Taylor of Baltimore were having to cut back on visits to their grown daughter — an 80-mile round trip — in their Buick LeSabre.

"There and back is $10 worth of gasoline," said Mr. Taylor, 84. The Associated Press used him and his wife as an example of one group that is suffering from high fuel prices: those who live on fixed or modest incomes. Other such groups include young adults and people living in rural parts of Western states where towns are far apart.

But Jason Schenker, an economist quoted by AP, said the diminished purchasing power of certain Americans should have little impact on total economic growth.

"What happens in those lower quintiles is not indicative of what happens in aggregate," Mr. Schenker said.

It's good to know that some people aren't particularly worried about a tough summer. But we hope the president's comment indicates he has a real plan to reduce oil dependency, encourage conservation, and ease the burdens on middle- and low-income Americans.

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