I watched the president's press conference yesterday. I must say the whole of it made me about as angry as I would have expected it to. His main thrust was that everything that's wrong today is the fault of Congress. He asserted in various ways that he's been unable to get several handy dandy bills through for about the last eighteen months or so. Now, by my math that means that he couldn't even get his own republican congress to help him out from November of 2006 to January of 2007, but I don't think he and I do math the same way.
Watching him, I was struck by how small his thinking is. Alternative energy is only nu-cu-lar and ethanol. Drilling in ANWR will solve our dependency on foreign oil and so on. Had John Kerry been elected we'd be nearly three and a half years into our "Apollo Program" for alternative fuel sources. One would hope these would be more than just those choices that benefit Monsanto, ADM and Cargill as well as GE and ConEd.
So in the midst of all his blather, I didn't pay much attention to the one sentence that became the news shows' soundbite. The President of the United States of America said to us "I firmly believe that, you know, if there was a magic wand to wave, I'd be waving it, of course.I've repeatedly submitted proposals to help address these problems, yet time after time Congress chose to block them."
Here's the funny thing. He has been president for over seven years. He could have done something. But let's recall that what was done in 2005 was to give massive tax breaks to the oil companies and other energy firms. We stopped charging royalties to oil companies who take crude from public land. Essentially, we are allowing oil companies to take from the commons for free. And each quarter these companies are setting record profits.
And, what did George W. Bush say in 2005 when he wanted to pass that wonderful energy bill that would bring down the price of gas, which then had soared to a shocking $2.28 a gallon? He said:
"I wish I could simply wave a magic wand and lower gas prices tomorrow," Bush told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "But we must act now to address the fundamental problem. Our supply of energy is not growing fast enough to meet the demands of our growing economy."
Three years ago he could have waved that magic wand to improve our mass transit infrastructure (my city is trying to add light rail-a forward looking idea that cons hate), could have extended tax credits to buyers of hybrids rather than Hummers, could have encouraged our auto companies to improve fleet efficiency. Rather, the news this morning in Wisconsin is that GM is laying off 750 people at the Janesville SUV plant. Yeah, who could have seen that coming?
And now, McCain and Clinton and others say that we should have a tax holiday for the summer to reduce the price of our gas by eighteen cents a gallon. Think about that: we give the raw product away, we've given billions in tax incentives to the oil companies and now as an answer, some would like us to forgo our own revenue - money that goes to US citizens for roads and infrastructure improvements, because oil companies are overcharging us? Insane.
Is now a good time to remind everyone that had we kept Jimmy Carter's CAFE standards in place we wouldn't need foreign oil?