Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Saint Barack on Energy

I saw a news story today that promised to show me the sharp, vivid contrast between the major-brand presidential candidates' thinking about the Energy Issue. Why energy should be a political "issue" is, I think, an interesting question, but might be better addressed in its own post (someday, someday!).

I was rather underwhelmed by the alleged contrast between Gramps and Saint Barack. It was like the contrast between "bone" and "eggshell" -- it's there, I suppose, but rather subtle. Centrally-planned control economy A vs. centrally-planned control economy B: not a contest that has me excited and eager to pick a side. But I seek to alternate, more or less, between complaining about Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain, and I think it might be Sen. Obama's turn today. If I'm wrong about that, I'll try to make it up to Gramps real soon now. Here's what CNN said about St. Barack:
Meanwhile, Obama laid out his comprehensive energy plan Monday in Lansing, Michigan.

"If I am president, I will immediately direct the full resources of the federal government and the full energy of the private sector to a single, overarching goal -- in 10 years, we will eliminate the need for oil from the entire Middle East and Venezuela," the presumptive Democratic nominee told a crowd.

Obama's plan also would invest $150 billion over the next 10 years and leverage billions more in private capital to build a new energy economy that he said would harness American energy and create 5 million new jobs.

He also called on businesses, government and the American people to meet the goal of reducing U.S. demand for electricity by 15 percent by the end of the next decade and said he would modernize the national utility grid.

Another prominent feature in the plan: Immediately give every working family in America a $1,000 energy rebate and pay for it from oil company profits.
There, I thought, is some fairly rich stuff -- particularly the part about investing $150B and leveraging (un-numbered) "billions more" to harness American energy. Nothing worse than American energy that has somehow escaped its harness, that's what I always say. The $1000 per working family energy rebate makes the good Saint seem like rather a piker; after all, didn't even the hated Dubya manage to slip all us families, working and leisurely, $1200 already? Ah, but then Dubya was distributing a tax rebate dole, which he procured in the usual pedestrian way: borrowing it from the Communus' Chinese. St. Barack, while promising a dole only 83% as large, is going to give us some populist red meat by promising to extract it from oil company profits, which are something the mere existence of which enrages every good 'Murkan. Still, I can't imagine why he doesn't go, say, $1500, or $2000, or even $10,000. After all, these oil company profits are both infinite and totally evil. Maybe Gramps is right, and that-there young diverse fellow really isn't "ready to lead."

I wasn't ready to trust CNN to be fair to Candidate Yes We Can anyway, so I had a look at his official campaign site to see what he, or his handlers, had to say about his Energy Plan there. I'm happy to say that CNN appears to have gotten him pretty much right:
Reduce the Burden of Rising Gas Prices on Working Families

Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Barack Obama has called on the President to enact a second round of economic stimulus to immediately put tax rebates in the pockets of American families to pay for rising energy prices. As president, Obama will enact a tax fairness agenda that provides 150 million workers a “Making Work Pay” tax credit of $500 per person or $1,000 per working family.
This leaves out the juicy part about making them damn oil comp'nies pay for it. What I'm wondering about, though, is what a "worker" is, and also a "working family." Whatever a worker might be, we apparently have 150 million of them in the US of A, which is about half the total number of people, and -- I suppose -- an even larger fraction of the non-children. Forgive me my skepticism, but this "tax credit" language also gets my attention. Somehow, I'm foreseeing a line somewhere on good old Form 1040 where it tells you to record a credit of $500, if you're filing individually, or $1000 if you're filing jointly, if line such-and-such (Adjusted Gross Income) does not exceed some politically-calibrated figure; otherwise, enter zero.

There's much, much more, and you might want to check it out; it's interesting reading, especially if you're a big fan of top-down command economies, Five-Year Plans, Great-Leaps-Forward, and the like. If (like me) you're not, you can always vote Republican go pound sand. O Glorious Political Duopoly!

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