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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

February 28, 2008

 

Crying for Big Oil

When is too much too much? Last year, the oil industry "earned" - and I use that term very loosely - a record $123 billion. Some of the secrets to those "earnings" were giant, federally funded (a.k.a. American Middle Class funded) tax subsidies to these giant global crude conglomerates which the Bush administration said they needed to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Does anyone really believe that nonsense?

So yesterday, the House of Representatives passes legislation that would rescind the great, giant tax rebates to these great, giant oil monsters and will use that money instead to help fund alternative energy research. ExxonMobil's profits - yes profits - for the year ending 2007 were a record $40 billion. Ending the tax breaks to them, and the other oil companies will cost, on average, $1.8 billion per year.

Do the math.

The bill was passed with wide bi-partisan support by a 236-182 margin. It faces a huge hurdle in the US Senate where a sixty vote super-majority is required to break what, no doubt will be, a Republican-led filibuster. The Democratic House had passed similar legislation twice before only to have it die in the Upper Chamber just for that very same reason. However, this time we are very close to the November elections and very close to many GOP Senators losing their cushy seats in DC, so there is hope. You see, every two years thirty-three or thirty-four senators' seats come up for re-election and this year many GOP heads are on the block. So, let's face facts, if you were an incumbent Republican, would you want to oppose a bill designed to attack the $100 per barrel oil prices?

I don't think so.

The number two Democrat in the House put it best:

"With the price of oil hovering around $100 do we really believe this incentive is justified? Do these companies need taxpayer subsidies to look for new product? They don't need any incentive."
-Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland

And the truth is they don't.

Now the Congressional members who are in the deep pockets of the oil industry and their paid lobbyists are going to argue that without these incentives the price of crude will go up. they'll claim that they can no longer pay to refine their liquid gold at the "bargain basement" prices which the great tax breaks allowed them to do. You can expect them to use this long overdue removal of the tax break as yet another reason to raise your gas prices come this Memorial Day weekend, and they'll be blaming the Democrats.

But what did you expect?

The oil industry has already taken up the mantle of being the poor, misunderstood child of America who is just trying to get by with the meager earnings which they work so hard for. Believe it or not, they're tact is to claim discrimination and to project fear:

"It punishes the oil and gas industry. This is wrongheaded. It will result in higher prices at the gasoline pump. It's spiteful and wrong,"
Rep. Jim McCrery (REPUBLICAN-LA)

This is a "discriminatory bill," These are "New taxes (which) will even further reduce our energy security by discouraging new domestic oil and natural gas production and refinery capacity expansions,"
-the American Petroleum Institute from a statement

And as everyone with even the most modest knowledge of the Bush White House could have predicted, the President and his administration chime in similarly:

This bill "would reduce the nation's energy security rather than improve it" and "lead to higher energy costs to U.S. consumers and business."
-The White House

One wonders what other tactics they'll use after the laughter from the American people die down.

But others saw the tax breaks to the oil industry differently as they sought to get the bill passed:

"stop the madness of subsidizing oil companies"
-Rep. Jim McDermott (DEMOCRAT-WA)

There can be little doubt that President Bush will veto this measure, so it's going to be very important to get the super majority necessary to pass it and get passed that veto. The democrats have their work cut out for them and the next test is in the senate.

Does "Cautious Optimism" mean anything to you?

-Noah Greenberg



In response to "John McCain's Boogie Man," Bob Driscoll writes:

The intent of Bill Cunningham's continuous reference to Obama's middle name was obvious and for anybody to say otherwise is just plain stupid. Everything else are real concerns to moderate Republicans like me.

As for the "big, bad, Chicago political machine", this is the same corrupt machine that Joe Kennedy used to deliver the presidency to his son in 1960. The ensuing eight years resulted in our escalating involvement in Vietnam and the deaths of over 57,000 Americans. As much as you might not like to admit it, the disengagement from Vietnam happened under Nixon's watch for which he deserves the credit. Before your little core of dedicated bloggers starts trashing me, as you know, I served in Vietnam with the United States Navy in 1969. Had it not been for that disengagement, my younger Brother would have joined his two older Brothers as a Vietnam Vet.



In response to, "Since when did the Democrats become the party of disenfranchisement?

"'Permission'? I suppose you missed the part where TWENTY TWO STATES moved up their primary or caucus dates. The RNC penalized none of them. The DNC chose the ones with the most poor people and Latinos to penalize. Any Democrat/progressive supporting this disenfranchisement really should just move right on over to the Republican Party. Then you will feel right at home come November when the Republicans steal our votes yet again as they did in 2000 and 2004--IN FLORIDA.

"I don't want to call people idiots, but deciding not to seat the delegations of two of the largest states in the country is indeed idiocy and will make for a very contentious vote come November. Living in Pennsylvania where we don't get to vote until April 22, I can tell you how much I don't want my vote stolen from me.

"Democrats really are determined to lose this election, aren't they? What, being body-smacked by the likes of George Bush two elections in a row wasn't enough for you? Wake up and smell the disenfranchisement. We need these voters come November," Robert Scardapane writes:

I have to insist that Noah prints my response since you made this into an attack on me.

Before you go attacking someone, you should know the facts. The RNC did penalize states that moved their primaries up without clearance. They can only seat 50 percent of their delegates. There was only one state - Michigan - that met this criteria. The rest got clearance.

I spent considerable amounts of my time working for John Kerry elected in 2004. Accusing me of feeling at home with the GOP stealing Democratic votes is just plain wrong and insulting.

The DNC made it clear that these states could not move up their primaries and if they did there would be consequences. These states even agreed to those terms! I am not saying that voters in those shouldn't be unhappy but they should direct their complaints at their local state parties and not the DNC.

I find it strange that an avowed Socialist is so concerned about Democrats winning elections. I find you comment that I need to wake and smell the coffee to be downright silly.



And Eddie Konczal responds to this:

"Living in Pennsylvania where we don't get to vote until April 22, I can tell you how much I don't want my vote stolen from me,"

You won't, because your state's Democratic party didn't move up its primary in violation of DNC rules. Michigan and Florida flouted those rules and are being held accountable for that. It has nothing to do with disenfranchisement, and everything to do with the party being able to set rules for its primaries. It is disingenuous to compare us to the RNC and their primaries - they have winner-take-all, for starters, and we don't. To cast this issue as a disenfranchisement issue is misleading and ignores the complexity of the primary process.

... and this:

"Democrats really are determined to lose this election, aren't they?"

What, being body-smacked by the likes of George Bush two elections in a row wasn't enough for you?

I would hardly call Bush's stealing of the 2000 election and narrow (and questionable; c.f.: Ohio) win in 2004 "body-smacks."


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-Noah Greenberg