Let’s put aside political affiliation for the moment and look at the recent developments on Washington. The first one I would like to talk about is the fact that the day after Obama’s Health Care bill passed, Bart Stupak and his coalition of 10 pro-life representatives requested billions in earmarks. Remember that the “compromise” reached between the Democrat party and the Stupak 11 was for the president to issue an executive order banning the use of federal funds for abortion. Legally, executive orders cannot overturn laws passed by Congress, therefore, two posts ago, I accused the Democrats of bribing or threatening Stupak (and by implication, the group he represented). At the moment, people on the right are pointing at this as proof of said bribery… but I am not convinced. Looking at the numbers, some are lower than last years earmarks and some are higher, yet this does not seem like a sufficient enough bribe. In other words, health care bill or no health care bill, these congresspersons may have requested the same amount. Given the fact that the Democrats have the majority in both houses of Congress, there is no reason to believe that they would not have received these earmarks anyways. While the timing is suspect and any independent thinker can see the absurdity of the Stupak “compromise” (a non-legally binding executive order), if they were threatened it might be difficult to find out and if they were bought off then I think we should be looking at something more substantial than this. Possibly this is part of a series of small payoffs and if so, we must wait to see how much the total is. Regardless of political affiliation, the Stupak episode does indeed stink to high heaven… especially since the margin of victory was 7 votes and the bill was/is opposed by a significant majority of Americans.
Moving on to the what I consider to be a real dirty trick: Obama proposed opening areas off the east coast and potentially areas off the Alaskan coast for oil and gas drilling. Personally, I welcome this as an opportunity to become more energy independent as we have seen what reliance on Middle East oil can lead to. Regardless of the merits, we must take a look at what is happening in Washington and understand why Obama is proposing something that he adamantly opposed and ridiculed during his campaign. See video:
Of course, in politician fashion, he made some indications that he was willing to change his mind, trying not to lock himself into a position, but in speech after speech across the country he outlined in a professorial manner the reasons why he opposed offshore drilling. He even said that he would keep the moratorium in place around the country. This pleased his base. It pleased environmentalists. But now we see that Obama and McCain agreed on this major issue, they both wanted to expand offshore drilling… sometimes it makes me wonder if there are any real differences between these “establishment” Republicans and the Democrats… in many ways they agree (see: Obamacare/Romneycare). I think that they tend to agree, not because their ideologies are the same, but because they do not stick to their guns, they retreat on their own principles just for politics’ sake. And for those who thought that Obama was post-political I think by now they have woken up.
This concession to the Republicans on offshore drilling was something he talked about during the state of union address. In that same address, he talked about meeting with Republicans about health care so that they could reach a compromise on the bill. This is starting to look like a pattern. As I wrote before, it is clear that the president is using this concession as a political prop, something that he can point at and say “look, I tried to compromise with them, but they didn’t budge.” With the health care meeting, little to nothing was accomplished and the Democrats proceeded with their nuclear option: reconciliation. No Republican voted for it. Obscure Senate rules were used to pass the most sweeping non-budgetary legislation in years by a bare majority, something that Congress has never done before. Reconciliation has only been used to tweak the system, lower/raise taxes, extend or retract coverage, change qualifications and requirements for our old health care system, not ever for a top-to-bottom restructuring of one sixth of our economy, here is a list on page 9 showing that only budget related items were passed using reconciliation. The scope of this bill was too large and should not have been passed through reconciliation, which stifles debate and dissent.
Enough about that though. This new concession by the administration seems to be in the same spirit as the “GOP health care sit-down,” i.e. it is simply a political prop. This is the only way to explain this about-face by the president, who previously said that this would do little to end our dependence on foreign oil but now calls this decision necessary to ensure energy independence. Amazing. What will the administration use this prop for? Probably for a bill that is being worked on by Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that is a revision of the cap-and-trade bill. It’s a bill already being called Cap-and-Tax and is being heralded as a job-killer and another huge burden on American citizens because of higher energy costs and taxes. Its aim is to reduce carbon emissions by a significant percentage, but ultimately this will do little or nothing to curb emissions. Primarily because the United States is not the top air polluter, that crown belongs to China, and China will not sacrifice its quest for economic dominance by becoming more environmentally friendly. In fact, China refuses international monitoring of its carbon emissions and calls on the US to provide more money to combat climate change. The top Chinese climate negotiator has said “there was still uncertainty about the causes of global warming… there are still two different viewpoints in the scientific field,” which shows their reluctance in slowing their economic machine by cutting emissions.
Ultimately, this means that the Democrats are now on their way to asserting more power over the energy industry in this country which ultimately will lead to higher costs, put small companies out of business, and higher taxes. Do we want to live in a country where only the large oligopolies can survive because of excessive government taxation and regulation? Do we want to make small businesses a thing of the past? Obama has admitted on the record that his proposals would bankrupt the coal industry, which provides the majority of electricity in this country (see video here). This is too extreme. Too many jobs will be lost. All Americans must come together and choose a path that is not so destructive to America’s middle class. The health care bill already increases the burden on the middle class through mandates, higher taxes (there are a few tax cuts and many tax increases, here’s a list of some), and cuts in Medicare. The Cap-and-Trade 2.0 version is part of the second wave of attacks on the middle class.
Already, the political gears are turning and trying to secure the votes by any means necessary, including symbolic concessions such as the offshore drilling proposal. Our government is tightening the screws on America. The Democrats have gotten punch-drunk with power and have betrayed their promises to the American people in order to pass a more government-centric agenda. This was expected though. We must fight to stop them or our present and future generations will be stuck with a bill too large to pay and we will no longer be the greatest nation on Earth. We can’t let that happen.