Monday, August 04, 2008

A Mysterious Unanimity

Today’s Bucks County Courier Times reports that all three candidates for the PA U.S. House seat for the 8th congressional district oppose a windfall oil profits tax (I say “three” with more deference to perennial election loser Tom Lingenfelter than he deserves).

Now I can understand why Repug challenger Tom Manion would oppose such a tax, stating…

The issue isn't about oil company profits, but about Congress' inaction on the nation's energy crisis, he said.

“Congress recessed [Friday] without even bringing options to the House floor for a vote,” Manion said. “Let's concentrate on finding alternate sources of energy, conserving the energy we have and expanding our domestic oil exploration.”
Well, well, ladies and gentlemen, what do you know – Tom Manion just old his very first lie. I’m sure his Repug handlers are so proud of him. However, I'm surprised by Patrick Murphy a bit, and I'll get to that later.

Actually, though, Manion is partly right about the House vote (amazingly enough), but to say Congress did noting isn’t true. As this tells us…

A bipartisan group of Senators calling themselves the ""gang of 10" were finally able to package a compromise bill on Friday aimed at breaking the persistent deadlock in the Senate over energy issues.
Basically, the “compromise” is to allow offshore drilling in some southern states (go ahead and let them wreck their coastlines in the process; they deserve it), while, on the other hand, the bill provides billions of dollars of research and development money to assist US automakers in achieving the goal of transitioning 85% of all new vehicles to run on alternative, non-petroleum based fuels within 20 years, as the story tells us.

This was probably the best deal we were going to get in this political climate; it is literally better than nothing.

And as for Patrick's opposition to a windfall profits tax, I thought this was an interesting post on the subject from Justin Fox of Time, in particular…

…the last windfall profits tax--in force from 1980 through 1988--was a flop, running up huge compliance costs and generating far less revenue than expected. But it was a flop mainly because oil prices began to plummet not long after the tax went into effect. The overwhelming impact of the oil glut--and the fact that nobody seems to be proposing reviving the unwieldy design of the 1980 tax (which was really an excise tax on oil, not a tax on oil company profits))--mean that there are few useful lessons to be drawn from that experience.
Fox is basically arguing that a windfall profits tax is meant to punish the oil company geniuses who somehow didn’t see $4 a gallon for gas approaching in their rear view mirror, if you will (or, if they did see it, didn’t think it was worth mentioning). I don’t have a problem with that, considering the profits of culprits like Shell and Exxon Mobil, as noted here (and please don’t point out to me that they only make .08 cents for every dollar of gas they sell, as if these people somehow are paupers).

It should be noted, though, that Patrick favors closing such loopholes as ensuring that our corporate energy cousins pay their royalty fees (and Patrick has also supported mass transit as an alternative, as noted here).

So, with that in mind, please click here to reward good behavior. Meanwhile, Tom Manion should review his talking points at least one more time.

Update 8/5/08: Any particular reason why the Courier Times published the same Murphy-bashing letter two days in a row (in which the author tells us Murphy "got it wrong" on energy, but doesn't explain how, aside from the "68 million" claim)?

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