Oil barons are inappropriately lining their coffers with mountains of dollars from American citizens by generating oligopolistic cartel conditions on the price of refined oil and gasoline. Yesterday, Exxon posted a first-quarter profit of $8.4 billion and is on track to outpace the most profitable year in its history.
Dems and other outraged Americans should beat on the oil and gas industry and immediately suspend all tax giveaways that we have arranged for an industry that is sucking away a greater share of the meager resources of America’s struggling middle class and less well off families.
The combination of Katrina damage in the Gulf and the increased drumbeat for a hot strike against Iran have given oil firms the camouflage they need to drive prices higher in an implicitly organized cartel. The government — even with competent investigations — will be unable to do much in this environment.
But no one seems to be going back and pounding on Dick Cheney again to demand once more — Supreme Court decision or not — that he disclose what America’s energy firms sought from him, what they advised him, what was bartered between his office and the energy firms in secret meetings when assembling a “national energy policy.”
If there is blame to be assigned for today’s situation, it rests with Cheney and the utter failure of the Bush energy policy that was crafted cooperatively with a secret oil and energy industry cabal — whose proceedings of key meetings Cheney will not disclose.
Why are Dems not resurrecting this Cheney/Oil Industry controversy?
I will be writing more on this as I don’t think that “cheap gas” should be the goal of Dems and oppose a race to the bottom with the President on figuring out all the tax suspensions and rebates that would generate only minor offsets for American consumers against the obscene profits of ravenous oil CEOs.
Even at current prices, gas in this country is cheap compared to virtually any other place in the world. The problem is that the rise in prices is lining the pockets of price-gougers rather than going into serious R&D and the establishment of credible alternatives. Our goal should not be cheap gas — it should be a Manhattan Projet of a new and different energy future.
It’s hard for Americans to hear about this sort of serious energy plan when they see their household funds seriously diminished by rapidly rising gas prices — but that makes the Bush administration’s energy sector performance doubly failed. But Dems need to go to this battle not only with criticism but with a BETTER PLAN in hand.
The only way to compel Americans to give Dems a chance at the helm again is for Bush’s opposition to embarrass the failures of leadership, vision and good policy — and to then put a better plan on the table. Right now, Dems are criticizing but not offering the key piece of how to get America’s energy and environmental future on track.
Incumbent oil firms are addicted to the narcotic of irresponsibly high profits while Bush and his team, as well as much of the country, are addicted to the narcotic of highly subsidized gas — which a massive defense budget and tens of thousands of lives are being deployed to secure.
America needs oil access, but it must move now to diminish that dependence and do so in a way that moves us into a more environmentally sound position.
However, the oil industry is in the way of progress — and in these conditions, they are behaving like war-profiteers, benefiting inappropriately when American men and women are dying in Iraq and perhaps next in Iran in part to preserve America’s stakes in strategic oil assets.
Senators and Congressmen calling hearings and launching investigations shouldn’t just have weak, unfocused sessions trying to find evidence of cartel coordination behind rising gas prices, they should focus on the war, on Katrina, and on the oil industry’s cynical use of these events to force Americans to sacrifice more from their pocketbooks.
It’s the war, oil profits, Vice President Cheney, and that secret meeting he had with oil industry leaders. . .
— Steve Clemons