A fifth column is a clandestine group of people who undermine a larger group, such as a nation, from within. If the Republicans aren’t a true fifth column they’re doing a very good job of undermining America’s economic future nevertheless.
Take, for example, our energy policies. The US Senate, in a procedural vote unique to the Senate that requires 60 votes to do just about anything, failed to gain the 60 vote majority needed to eliminate billions of annual subsidies to Big Oil. Fifty one Senators voted to eliminate the subsidies, a majority, but only two Republicans voted with the majority. This is ridiculous. Big Oil needs subsidies like we need another hole in our heads.
From an article in the New York Times:
Despite pleading by Mr. Obama, the Senate on Thursday could not produce the 60 votes necessary to pass a bill eliminating $2.5 billion a year of these subsidies. This is a minuscule amount for an industry whose top three companies in the United States alone earned more than $80 billion in profits last year. Nevertheless, in the days leading up to the vote, the American Petroleum Institute spent several million dollars on an ad campaign calling the bill “another bad idea from Washington — higher taxes that could lead to higher prices.”
If you want a snapshot of what’s really wrong with our political system, the article points it out:
In the last year, the industry spent more than $146 million lobbying Congress. In Thursday’s vote, senators who voted to preserve the tax breaks received more than four times as much as those who voted against.
Apparently Big Oil is making good use of its taxpayer subsidies. Nothing like funding a huge propaganda machine that can gear up on a moment’s notice to tell the American public what’s good for them.
Money has always talked in Congress. Now industry allies are aiming at voters. The American Energy Alliance, a Washington-based group that does not disclose its financial sources, on Thursday began an ad campaign in eight states with competitive Congressional races.
Voters in Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado will hear a 30-second spot peddling the industry’s misleading arguments against the Obama administration’s energy policies — including the fiction that those policies have led to higher gas prices: “Since Obama became president,” it says in part, “gas prices have nearly doubled. Obama opposed exploring for energy in Alaska. He gave millions of dollars to Solyndra, which then went bankrupt. And he blocked the Keystone pipeline, so we will all pay more at the pump.”
Four sentences, four misrepresentations. Gas prices, tied to the world market, would have gone up no matter who was president. Mr. Obama has not ruled out further leasing in Alaskan waters. Solyndra, a solar panel maker, is the only big failure in a broader program aimed at encouraging nascent energy technologies. The Keystone XL oil pipeline has nothing to do with gas prices now and, even if built, would have only a marginal effect.
All this comes as President Obama, working with countries around the world, ratchets up sanctions against Iran in a diplomatic effort to get that country to open up its nuclear power program to inspection. Among the efforts is Obama’s influence to increase production in petroleum around the world while cutting Iran’s production out of the system. The fact is, it’s working. Another New York Times news article explains the effort and its risks.
Beezer here. Face it folks, we’re going to be bought and sold as long as we continue to swallow this swill. Big oil is once again successfully protecting its subsidies and fighting anything the government might do to encourage competition from nascent industries like solar, wind, geothermal, conservation etc. etc. Even mature industries that could compete right now, such as natural gas, can’t get enough Republican votes to push pro-gas transportation now stalled in the House.