Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Don't-Drill-Democrats pass a do-nothing drilling bill

The text of it is here. CQ Politics had the report yesterday when it passed the House:

After months of debate about expanding offshore oil and gas drilling, the House passed legislation Tuesday that could open up large areas off U.S. coastlines to energy production.

The bill (HR 6899) passed 236-189 despite the objections of Republicans who said it would do little to boost offshore oil and gas production. President Bush threatened a veto.

A Republican attempt to stall the measure was defeated. The chamber voted 191-226 against a motion to recommit the bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

After watching Republicans gain political traction in recent weeks with calls for more offshore drilling, Democratic leaders hope the legislation will provide political cover for moderate members of their caucus who face tough re-election fights.

Democrats touted the bill as a compromise that would expand domestic production and invest in alternative energy sources. It would allow drilling beyond 100 miles off U.S. shores and give states the option of allowing production beyond 50 miles from the shores. It proposes major incentives for renewable energy, building efficiency and advanced technologies for coal-fired power plants.

The Democrats claimed that this was a bipartisan bill, but John Boehner called that garbage yesterday in a radio response to the bill's passage. In fact he pointed out that the 50 mile limit would prevent us from drilling in the most oil-rich areas of the outer-continental shelf. John Campbell breaks down some specifics:

Lack of Incentive: The bill allows offshore drilling, only for States that choose it, no closer than 50 miles from the coast, however it also prohibits revenue sharing of new oil and gas proceeds, thereby removing any incentive for States to “opt in” and allow drilling off their coasts. Nor does the bill offer any lawsuit protection, so companies that do search for oil will continue to be hampered with limitless litigation by environmental groups.

This bill will raise taxes: This bill raises taxes on large oil and gas companies engaged in domestic energy production by nearly $13.9 billion over 10 years, all to provide tax breaks to favored energy projects and products. The bill also limits the use of foreign tax credits on the international operations of oil and gas companies, which pushes the overall tax hike in the bill up to $17.7 billion.

Reduces revenue: The Congressional Budget Office [CBO] has estimated the government could initially receive $5 billion in additional revenue without raising taxes by opening the OCS and allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge [ANWR]. Yet this bill continues to limit drilling in the OCS. According to CBO, it reduces revenue to the Treasury by $1 billion.

New Fees for Energy Companies: The bill raises $5.8 billion by imposing new fees on certain leases that currently pay no royalties. It also imposes $1.8 billion of new fees on non-producing Gulf of Mexico leases, and requires retroactive lease payments back to 1 October 2007 on certain leases.

Higher Spending, No Deficit Reduction: The bill increases the top line for appropriated spending by $6.6 billion, so that total 2009 nonemergency discretionary spending increases by 9.3 percent over 2008. All new revenue in the bill is set aside in a reserve fund to offset future appropriated spending increases. There is no guarantee this funding will be used to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

More Earmarked Spending: The bill restructures the New York Liberty Zone Program, making it a $2-billion earmark that can be used for any transportation infrastructure project in New York City. The measure also earmarks $25 million to establish a so-called “National Energy Center of Excellence.”

New Spending for Energy Block Grants: The bill also authorizes $2.5 billion in new spending for energy related block grants, and $3.4 billion to States for transportation grants.

Exploiting the Fannie-Freddie Bailout: The bill seeks to make Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac green when the problem is they are insolvent. It directs the two financially ailing firms to develop loan products and flexible underwriting guidelines to facilitate a secondary market for energy- and location-efficient mortgages on low- and moderate-income housing. The bill also calls for Fannie and Freddie to facilitate second and junior mortgages for energy-efficiency and renewable energy improvements.

Now pay very close attention. Marcie and I knew when the House Republicans executed their act of defiance while Congress was in recess that the pressure would be applied to Democrats for their feckless, petulant behavior. We knew then, and predicted then, that when the Congress came back that the House Democrats would try to take this issue off the table. They knew that McCain and the House GOP was going to make energy a campaign issue at a time when the public was paying $4 a gallon for gas. We knew they'd try to pull this stunt, and CQ Politics rightly conveys the fact that Democrats rammed this bill through to shield themselves from the ire of the electorate in November.

This bill doesn't do what's been demanded of Congress. We want to drill so we can get away from foreign dependence on oil and natural gas. When John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate -- a governor who understands the energy issue far better than any Democrat does -- Democrats knew they were in check. Their king was in a corner, and only one move was available. Pass a bill, ANY bill so they could pay lip service to the people. "See, we heard you, now shut up."

The problem is they obviously didn't, given John Campbell's break down of this bill, and what it means. It's not going to make us energy independent. It's the status quo painted up to look like something new. The Democrats have made a critical error because President Bush has said he will veto this bill. And he's going to do it for two reasons, and he'd better get out in front of the cameras and tell America why he's doing it.

#1 -- It doesn't do what America wants, and what America wants is drilling our reserves. This is why he lifted the executive moratorium.

#2 -- It has earmarks in it that have nothing to do with drill at all.

Memo to Democrats: The energy issue is one you just can't pay lip service to, and expect the voters to be fooled. We're not. To save your worthless backsides, you had better do what "We, the people" have called for. When the president vetoes this, it'll be checkmate. Game over. Then what are you going to do? I'll tell you what they'll do. they'll whine. They'll cry. They'll tell America that it's not their fault that the president vetoed the bill. But we're not buying it.

We call on the GOP in the Senate (yes, even the monkeys involved in the Gang of 20) to stand firm, and filibuster this when it comes through. This is NOT what America wants. Light up the phones -- 202-225-3121 -- and tell them what you want. We want drilling, and not this empty-promise hoax.

Publius II


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