The Kaine campaign is going after that most hoary of Democratic bugbears, big oil companies. In a press release, Mr. Kaine’s flacks hope the Senate will see its way to repealing big oil’s “subsidies,” on the logic that doing so will somehow lead the nation toward energy independence, lower energy prices and a chicken in every pot:
“Repealing theses subsidies will help America invest in the $2.3 trillion clean energy economy that will create jobs right here in Virginia, bring us closer to energy independence, and reduce our reliance [sic] on high oil prices.”
I’ll set aside the Freudian slip about the “reliance on high oil prices” for now.
But I do wonder if Mr. Kaine and the rest of his party are taking their energy cues from Jimmy Carter. Remember the windfall profits taxes of the bad old days? Passed under Carter’s watch in 1980, the windfall profits tax had the effect of depressing domestic oil production and increasing our reliance on imported oil.
That should have been expected: raise taxes on something, and you will get less of it. But that’s exactly what Mr. Kaine proposes: single-out five oil companies for tax discrimination and they will produce less oil. Prices will rise as supply falls, pump prices will rise in concert and the only thing left will be even angrier (and poorer) motorists.
Which brings us back to the little slip in Kaine’s press release. The current administration is openly hostile to fossil fuels. They openly called for such increases until it became politically untenable. Only high prices were going to wean us off our oil habit and make the administration’s favored alternatives more price competitive. But they don’t (publicly) have the courage of those convictions today.
Instead, they are trying to divert attention away from all that and toward the evil integrated oil companies (who pump not only oil, but about $85 million in taxes and royalties into federal coffers every day).
It’s a neat trick. But if successful, it’s also the kind of trick that will result in even higher pump prices and greater imports.
Is that what Tim Kaine really wants to happen? Judging by the wording in his press release, the answer is “yes.”