Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Republican Attack On The Middle Class

I admire consistency, I really do. And so, I admire the Republican Party.

-on 6/10/08, killed a bill (by holding the Democrats to 60 votes, nine short of the number needed to prevent a potential filibuster) which would have (according to "impose(d) a windfall profits tax of 25 percent on the major oil companies, the proceeds going to subsidize new renewable energy." It would have given government the leeway to address oil market speculation, opened the way for antitrust actions against the OPEC oil cartel and made energy price gouging a federal crime.

-the same day, blocked by a 50-44 voted debate on a measure which would have extended tax credits for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, opposed by GOP senators because it would have raised taxes on hedge-fund managers to pay for the tax credits.

-on 7/24/08, blocked an effort by House Democrats to release 70 million barrels of (approximately 10% of the total) of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Although 268 voted in favor and only 157 against, the measure failed because it needed a two-thirds vote, as it was brought up under a rule which would exclude amendments. (Republicans wanted a vote on granting new offshore oil leases, presumably so our yet-unborn grandchildren could benefit from a surge in oil production.)

Skeptical of the value or prudence of withdrawing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? This is from the 7/23/08 testimony of Joseph Romm before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming:

The fact is we can easily increase supply temporarily, ease costs, and perhaps disrupt any speculators’ expectation that oil prices are a safe bet for high returns. The United States sits on 705 million barrels of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Since it is 97 percent full, we could sell a half million barrels of oil per day for a year without increasing our exposure to a catastrophic oil disruption. The SPR would still be at 75 percent capacity.

Increasing the oil supply would alter the current psychology that oil prices will continue to rise due to growing demand and fixed supply. Investors and speculators in oil contracts would see that betting on higher prices is no longer a sure thing and it could scare the quick-buck speculators out of the market.

This SPR oil sale would also generate significant funds for the federal government. The SPR oil was bought at an average price of about $28 per barrel. It could sell for the market price, which could be anything from $100 to $130 per barrel. If the average sale price is $115 per barrel, the SPR oil would generate nearly $58 million per day. These funds could provide a rebate to low-income households, finance clean energy technologies, or expand mass transit systems, which have begun to strain under record ridership.

The Repub energy agenda: don't bother OPEC; don't support research into renewable energy sources; don't release oil now which would promptly increase supply and probably curtail energy speculation, thereby lowering prices; grant leases for more offshore oil drilling, which would not increase supplies for several years but might alleviate pressure on the energy industry and the federal government to develop alternative sources of energy. Or more simply, keep demand up, supply down, prices up, profits for the oil industry ever-soaring, and the middle class ever-declining.

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