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Dems Missing Opportunity on Energy:

The Cato Institute's Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren are all in favor of eliminating energy subsidies. By that measure, they find the House Democrats' 100-hour energy legislation -- H.R. 6, the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act (aka the "CLEAN Energy Act") -- to be quite a disappointment.

The Republican abandonment of economic principle and subsequent love affair with K Street lobbyists gave the Democrats a wonderful opportunity to launch a politically winning total war on corporate welfare. Pity that they don't seem interested in taking advantage of it.

Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Sounds like the Cato Institute is starting to experience buyer's remorse for the "divided government" lemon they bought. So much for "liberatarians."
1.17.2007 10:44am
Rich B. (mail):
The Democrats named this the "CLEAN Act" are are shifting subsidies from dirty industries to clean fuels. Of course this won't make sense if you believe all subsidies are bad. Of course, this wasn't ever the point. The article reads like an analysis of a partial-birth abortion ban that criticizes it for not being a tax cut. Well, yes, if you have a total one-track mind everything that's on another track will look like a "lost opportunity."

The difference between previous Republican subsidies is that this one's revenue neutral.

My favorite part of that article, though, is the coding typo that will certainly be fixed soon.

!—[if !supportFootnotes]—

And, apparently, if there is no support, just leave it hang out there un-footnoted.
1.17.2007 10:58am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Make that "liberaltarians"
1.17.2007 11:03am
John T (mail):
the call for about 40 companies producing oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico to voluntarily pay a "conservation resource fee" to the federal Treasury. Back in 1998 and 1999, those companies signed leases to drill in certain federally-owned deepwater reserves without any requirement that royalties be paid. If the oil companies in question don't voluntarily agree to pay the proposed "conservation resource fee," the bill would prohibit them from getting leases to drill on federal land in the future.

This is indeed the most significant part of the bill. During the closing parts of the Clinton Administration, when gas prices were quite low, some oil companies signed leases that didn't contain the standard royalties requirements that kick in when the price of oil becomes high enough. It didn't matter at first because the price of oil was so low. The oversight was fixed in 2000, but those leases remained signed. So far the Bush Administration, while fixing future leases, has refused to force the companies to renegotiate the existing leases, saying that they were already signed and that it would be a bad move to change an existing contract.
1.17.2007 11:09am
Oren (mail):
Average percent annual change in federal spending:

Split Government - 1.5%
Single Party - 3%

(source: Harpers analysis back to the 1930's)
1.17.2007 11:20am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Average percent annual change in federal spending:

Split Government - 1.5%
Single Party - 3%

That's nice. Now it break it down by wartime versus peacetime and defense versus non-defense spending. Also show us the numbers for how the parties voted on alternative spending items that resulted in the final number.
1.17.2007 11:48am
Houston Lawyer:
Now that oil &gas prices are high, why don't we just increase the MMS royalty on all government leases? It's not like they signed a contract or anything.
1.17.2007 12:37pm
Shelby (mail):
Now it break it down by wartime versus peacetime and defense versus non-defense spending. Also show us the numbers for how the parties voted on alternative spending items that resulted in the final number.

Also, please do my taxes for me.
1.17.2007 1:16pm
Thales (mail) (www):
" Average percent annual change in federal spending:

Split Government - 1.5%
Single Party - 3%


That's nice. Now it break it down by wartime versus peacetime and defense versus non-defense spending. Also show us the numbers for how the parties voted on alternative spending items that resulted in the final number."

T. Winston why don't you take up that challenge if you think it will persuade people to favor a single party state? I think most people who pragmatically favor divided government are interested in the overall results of the president and congress negotiating together and hopefully defeating each other's worst ideas, or how government affects their own bottom line. From that perspective, why should we care very much about the things you mention?
1.17.2007 1:24pm
FoolsMate:
Taylor and Van Doren go on to state that the same arguments that can be marshaled against subsidies to "Big Oil" also apply to subsidies for alternative energy industries. However, they fail to account for the very real long-term U.S. national security concerns associated with dependence on the often volatile world oil market for the energy needed to grow the economy. Shifting the subsidies (rather than eliminating) from oil to the alternative energy and efficiency, to the extent that it leads to "more" of what is subsidized, can be justified in terms of U.S. energy security.
1.17.2007 1:41pm
Crunchy Frog:

The Republican abandonment of economic principle and subsequent love affair with K Street lobbyists gave the Democrats a wonderful opportunity to launch a politically winning total war on corporate welfare. Pity that they don't seem interested in taking advantage of it.

What a crock. The Democrats have been beholden to K Street for just as long. The lobbyists don't have a bias in favor of either party - they favor incumbents. The Democrats used Republican corruption to gain political power, so that they can gain the benefits of being corrupt themselves.
1.17.2007 1:41pm
Richard A. (mail):
Neither party will ever admit it, but the only way to reduce dependency on foreign oil is a hefty gas tax. That's why all the Europeans tax the hell out of gas. Of course, Cato would never admit it either, but from a free-market perspective a consumption tax is infinitely better than a tax on income.
Also the Saudis hate it, because the effect is exactly the same as taxing their oil at the wellhead.
1.17.2007 5:57pm
Avatar (mail):
Actually, the last I heard, the Bush administration had secured renegotiated contracts from 5 of the companies involved, but the other 50 weren't interested. (Surprise surprise.) So it's not that they're not trying to renegotiate the contracts, it's just that they're hesitant to simply void them outright (which just might have an effect on future exploration efforts, hm?)
1.17.2007 7:12pm
tsotha:
Crunch Frog has my take. It's not that they're interested in reducing corruption, they just want the benefits to flow to Democrats instead of Republicans.

I think earmark transparancy is a good start, but this really won't change until voters start to drum people out of office over their K Street activities. I know we're told these campaign donations are just companies and interest groups supporting congressmen who already agree with them, but can we stop pretending this is true and call it what it really is: Bribery.
1.17.2007 7:58pm