According to the Lundberg Survey last week, while the national average for gasoline is approaching $4/gallon (prices having increased for 35 straight days), the highest gas prices in the nation are to be found in Chicago, which is reporting an average price of $4.27/gallon, with some stations charging as much as $4.60-$4.70 per gallon. I am tempted to feel sympathy for them, at least until I remember that they are the ones responsible for politically nurturing and elevating the current occupant of the White House to that esteemed position, a man that adores a statist, command-and-control economy where government dictates the terms under which goods and services are exchanged. When I think about that, I lose my religion and think they have not suffered enough.
Barack Obama, channeling his inner Bill Clinton (you remember him, the first black president), now tells us that he feels our pain but that, unfortunately, there is no “silver bullet” that will make gas prices come down in the short term. That may be the closest he has come to making a true statement on the subject since he told us as Candidate Obama that his policies would “necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket”. Now faced with declining poll numbers and rising anger at the cost of gas, Obama does what every political charlatan does best…find a scapegoat.
Continuing our “Liberty Candidate Series” of interviews, Jason and Brett talk with Marlin Stutzman, discussing the retirement of Evan Bayh (D-IN), Hoosier jobs, energy policy, and fiscal conservatism. Stutzman is one of five Republican candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat this year.
This special edition podcast is the seventh in a series devoted to showcasing liberty candidates nationwide.
We’ve often wondered why President Barack Obama and his administration have had such a hostile view of oil companies. He insists that drilling up during his term, but Obama is taking credit for policies enacted by his predecessor. But much like his attacks on higher-income earners, Obama has targeted the oil industry and speculators with harsh rhetoric in attempt to distract Americans from his own failed energy policies.
We know that Obama’s own Energy Secretary is on record supporting higher gas prices. Obama has said himself that he didn’t have a problem with the cost of gas, rather that they rose too quickly. So we know where the rhetoric and proposed regulations are coming from. But there is something deeper here?
Via the Heritage Foundation, a video has surfaced where a regional administrator from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the treatment of oil companies in the regulatory agency is “kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: they’d go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they’d run into, and they’d crucify them and then, you know, that town was really easy to manage over the next few years”:
We’ve noted over the last few days that rising gas price could pose a problem for President Barack Obama, whose energy policy has left a lot to be desired. This was emphasized by a recent poll from Gallup showing that 65% of Americans held Obama partly responsible for higher gas prices.
But a new Washington Post/ABC News poll showing that Obama’s approval ratings have gone down as gas has gone up, further driving home the vulnerability on the issue:
Disapproval of President Obama’s handling of the economy is heading higher — alongside gasoline prices — as a record number of Americans now give the president “strongly” negative reviews on the 2012 presidential campaign’s most important issue, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Increasingly pessimistic views of Obama’s performance on the economy — and on the federal budget deficit — come despite a steadily brightening employment picture and other signs of economic improvement, and they highlight the political sensitivity of rising gas prices.
Gas prices are a main culprit: Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the situation at the pump, where rising prices have already hit hard. Just 26 percent approve of his work on the issue, his lowest rating in the poll. Most Americans say higher prices are already taking a toll on family finances, and nearly half say they think that prices will continue to rise, and stay high.
Just two days before President Barack Obama is set to give his jobs speech before a joint session of Congress, Mitt Romney laid out his proposals to get the economy moving again. Here is the red meat from Romney’s editorial in USA Today:
Only the individual initiative of entrepreneurs, workers, investors and inventors enables companies, and our economy as a whole, to flourish. We must once again unleash the tremendous economic potential of the American people. The contrast between what the Obama administration has done and what I would do as president could not be starker.
First, President Obama has raised or threatened to raise taxes on both individuals and businesses. I would press hard in the opposite direction. Marginal income tax rates and tax rates on savings and investment must be kept low. Further, taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for middle-income taxpayers should be eliminated. Our corporate tax rate is among the world’s highest. It leaves U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage and induces them to park their profits abroad, benefiting the rest of the world at our expense. I will fix these problems with permanent solutions. Ultimately, I will press for a total overhaul of our overly complex and inefficient system of taxation.
Are you mad about oil subsidies? I feel you. I hate corporate subsides, a type of welfare that draws money from working stiffs like you and me and funnels it to corporations. It’s rather annoying, all things considered, especially when groups in Washington fight over what kind of welfare is just, either toward people or towards companies.
However, something to keep in mind when you’re screaming that oil companies are getting $21 billion in subsidies is that they don’t even touch the green energy subsidies.
On Monday, Reason had a pretty good comparison of the two, $21 billion for Big Oil as previously stated but a whopping $60 billion for green energy. I don’t care where you’re from, $81 billion is a lot of money, even by government standards. Now, as I stated, I’m not in favor of subsidies for any industry, but let’s take a look at what the effects of cutting the subsidies would be.
Let’s say we cut the subsidies for Big Oil out completely. That will teach them, right? Wrong. Companies will always find a way to keep their profits intact. The petroleum industry isn’t any different. They’ll just raise their prices accordingly. That will raise the prices at the gas pump a like amount. How much? Who knows. Many experts say it will only be a small amount, but even a 1 cent per gallon increase is still an increase. However, most seem to be operating under the premise for a cut to oils subsidies, not elimination (which admittedly isn’t on the table). Let’s also face it, the experts have been known to be wrong.
While it’s hard to find a Republican running for president that hasn’t supported cap-and-trade - although most of them have magically changed positions, Jon Huntsman, the former Governor of Utah and US Ambassador to China, still seems to support the concept, according to comments recently made in an interview with Time:
Cap-and-trade ideas aren’t working; it hasn’t worked, and our economy’s in a different place than five years ago. Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment.
So, “this isn’t the moment”? I guess we’ll wait until the economy improves to try it? Sorry, that’s not good enough. The proposal that has been put forward is not something to be so passive about. It would could cost American families a lot of money. The Obama Administration estimated that it would cost the average family nearly $2,000 a year; or as CBS noted, the “equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent.” The Heritage Foundation gave a much higher figure in terms of average costs over the long-term; nearly $7,000 by 2035.
Even if the economy improves, would you really consider implementing a policy that is clearly going to make energy more expensive? That is the question that Republican voters should be asking Huntsman.
We noted last week that the National Taxpayers Union was launching a $4 million ad buy opposing tax hikes on energy providers in the United States, which would at the same time, exempt state-owned energy companies in countries like China and Venezuela, as would BP, a British-owned company.
Last night, I spoke with Andrew Moylan, Director of Government Affairs at NTU, about the proposal, how it would impact consumers and the debate over taxes currently taking place in Congress.
You can download the podcast here (10:28/9.5MB).
Here is the TV version of the ad: