Senator Pete Domenici, R-N.M, has relayed the mixed message of "we feel your pain" (at the pump), while attempting to justify his party's blockage of a windfall profit tax on Big Oil by saying that increased taxes on oil companies would be something Americans wouldn't want.
"Americans are furious about what's going on," declared Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and want Congress to do something about oil company profits and "an orgy of speculation" on oil markets.
"If you don't tell the big oil companies they can no longer run energy policy in America, we will not succeed, plain and simple," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told CBS Radio News.
That "orgy of speculation" is the issue, of course, spurred along by the falling dollar (more on that below). The legislation, which failed to gain the required 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster (as with the recent failed global warming legislation), would have required the following provisions that to address speculation:
1. Require traders to put up more collateral in the energy futures markets and open the way for federal regulation of traders who are based in the United States but use foreign trading platforms. The measures are designed to reduce market speculation.2. Make oil and gas price gouging a federal crime, with stiff penalties of up to $5 million during a presidentially declared energy emergency.
3. Authorize the Justice Department to bring charges of price fixing against countries that belong to the OPEC oil cartel.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the obstructer of the earlier climate change legislation, echoed Domenici's crocodile tears about the pain at the pump while ridiculing "those who think we can tax our way out of this problem."
Drill more oil on American soil (read: Alaska and offshore). Screw the environmental consequences.
Which makes one wonder whether this approach -- to let things get so bad that Americans will support a complete rape of the environment -- might be the end-game of our pain at the pump that these Republicans feel so very bad about, especially after these very same Republicans, lead by McConnell, defeated separate legislation designed to provide for alternative fuels.
But then, it could just be short-presidential-term greed -- the 'let's get as much as we can before our policies drive the Republicans out of office' philosophy...
Adding to the problem, as cited in this earlier post by Danny Schechter, is the 'heckofajob' decision by a shadowy Bush Administration figure to engineer a drop in the dollar to "improve competitiveness" amidst a growing trade imbalance (never mind the blowback...):
His name is Jim Wilkinson. He helped organize the GOP "protest"/obstruction of the Miami election recount in 2000. He was the White House's key media spinner at the Coalition Media Center in Quatar in 2003. ~snip~ [A]t a crucial moment in the history of the Western world, Mr. "I work in the shadows" Wilkinson became chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, the Goldman Sachs embed in the Cabinet.
Operative Wilkinson was given the assignment of monitoring the world's financial markets.
Wilkinson's self-serving act has set off a world-wide frenzy of speculation, particulary oil speculation, with traders in London and Dubai holding onto their oil stocks in order to obtain a better price in Euros than they can now achieve with dollars. That, in turn, plays into the hands of oil producing nations who may have reasons not to like America (i.e. Iran, Venezuela...) to insist on petrol-Euros for their product, further depressing the dollar world-wide.
I'm waiting to hear President Bush say "doing a heckofajob, Wilkie."
Barack Obama challenged John McCain on Big Oil yesterday, pointing out Republican support for windfall profits and how Senator McCain's policies on this matter as tantamount to a continuation of Bush policies - the oft-quoted "Bush Third Term." McCain's response was to snicker and call the election of Barack Obama "Jimmy Carter's second term".
What Senator McCain is not saying: The Republican Senate coalition working with lobbyists, of which McCain is a part -- as evidenced by the percentage of lobbyists on his campaign and the way that McCain voted in concert with Bush policies ~95 percent of the time last year (some maverick) -- has effectively blocked legislation designed to address the "pain at the pump" and at the grocery store with which every American is struggling.
The silver lining to this painful exercise? The opening salvos in the General Election campaign (Obama: Here are my policies, some not written in stone, but you get the idea, and ExxonMobil made a lot of money and here's how that relates to John McCain... McCain: He's not experienced!!!!!!) coinciding with the Republican legislature's march in lockstep to their oil-lobbyist controllers' instructions gives a clear choice to the American people:
Don't want more of the same?
Don't vote McCain.
Don't like 4, 5, 6 dollar gas?
Ditto the same with the Republicans in Congress.
More on this topic at THE ENVIRONMENTALIST