Oct 272005
 

While you and I are cringing with every stop at a filling station, the big oil companies are raking in the big bucks.

Hooray for Big Oil! Shell only delivered a 68% rise in net profits but yes, they’re still getting by and making ends meet. Thankfully the GOP is there to support them during their time of need.

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, on Thursday said quarterly profit surged 75 percent to nearly $10 billion, raking in a bonanza from record oil prices. The profit was the highest in the company’s history, surpassing the record it set in the 2004 fourth quarter. Revenue jumped 32 percent to just over $100 billion.

Sep 272005
 

Bush’s allies in Congress are using high gas prices as another excuse for massive giveaways to the oil industry. The Los Angeles Times reports that conservative "leaders in Congress announced plans to introduce new legislation or amend existing measures to bestow more tax breaks on the industry and provide other incentives left out of the big energy bill Bush signed into law in August." The oil industry hardly needs the help. Even before Katrina hit, oil companies were flush with cash. ExxonMobil’s profits are expected to exceed $10 billion in the third quarter of 2005, "more net income than any company has ever made in a quarter." Now the industry is using Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to jack up prices — and profit margins — even higher.

A right-wing plan to cut the federal budget by $500 billion over ten years would destroy nearly all existing programs that promote energy efficiency and conservation. The scheme, dubbed "Operation Offset," would eliminate the EnergyStar program, the Hydrogen Fuel initiative, the Freedom Car program, funds for research on renewable energy, and programs that support high-speed rail. A progressive approach would save more money in half the time and would preserve all of those programs. 

Sep 222005
 
  • A nice little tax cut for your wealthy friends – $327 billion
  • Some corporate welfare for your campaign contributors in the oil business – $8.5 Billion
  • Having a king-sized natural disaster to help you try to cut the programs you don’t like for the old and poor - Priceless
  • For everything else, there’s the queers.

With great fanfare, and recalling the "Gingrich Revolution" of the 1990s, House conservatives yesterday proposed a broad set of spending cuts they said would help offset the costs of the Katrina reconstruction effort. Their plan reduces the budget by $500 billion over 10 years, and does so in large part by dismantling programs that invest in middle- and working-class Americans. Progressives can do better. It’s possible to cut far more unnecessary federal spending, accomplish it in half the time, and do so while upholding the principles of fiscal responsibility and concern for the common good.

The proposal announced yesterday cuts substantial funding from several "long-standing targets of conservative scorn," like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the foreign operations budget. The largest proposed cuts are targeted at Medicaid, "the health care safety net for low-income children, elderly, disabled, pregnant women and parents." The plan cuts $225 billion by converting the federal share of certain Medicaid payments into a block grant, and $8 billion more by increasing Medicaid co-payments. Eliminating subsidized loans to graduate students slices off an additional $8.5 billion. $11 billion more is saved by passing restrictive new rules for federal retiree health care and federal pension programs.

A progressive approach to trimming the budget could result in greater savings over a shorter period of time. For example, rolling back the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans would save $327 billion over five years. Cracking down on offshore tax shelters would save $65 billion over the same time period. Simply allowing Medicare recipients to purchase drugs through the mail would save $43 billion over five years. Repealing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry contained in the recent energy bill would save $8.5 billion. Shelving costly and unnecessary weapons systems would save $200 billion. Getting rid of counterproductive agricultural export subsidies would save $30 billion over the first five years along. Giving up half of the 6,371 special earmarked projects of the 2005 transportation bill would save an additional $12 billion. A progressive approach to trimming the budget could cut $688 billion in federal spending over just five years.


 Republican Offsets      Progressive Offsets  
 Title III Program Cuts  $307B    Rollback Tax Cuts for the Wealthy  $327B
Other including DoD and DHS  $333B    Eliminate Offshore Tax Shelters  $  65B
 Cut Federal Share of Medicaid  $225B    Repeal Oil Industry Subsidies  $    8.5B
 Increase Medicaid Copayments  $    8B    Allow Medicare Mail Order Drug Purchases  $  43B
 Eliminate Loans To Graduate Students  $    8.5B    Shelve unnecessary Defense Systems  $200B
 Restriction on Federal Retiree Healthcare and Pensions  $   11B    Eliminate Agricultural Export Subsidies  $  30B
 Foreign Operations Budget  $   37B    Eliminate 1/2 of 6,371 Transportation Bill Projects  $  12B

 TOTAL After 10 Years

 $929B  

 TOTAL Savings after only five years

 $685.5B

Let’s take a special look at some of the cuts included in the Republican Plan. I think most agregious is their call to eliminate "Corporate Welfare." This from a Congress that gave the oil companies, already experiencing windfall profits, huge subsidies in the just passed energy bill. Take a look at a partial list and see if you notice any patterns:

  • Eliminate the Applied Research for Renewable Energy Sources Program
  • Eliminate the Clean Coal Technology Program
  • Eliminate the FreedomCAR Program
  • Eliminate the ITA’s Trade Promotion Activates
  • Eliminate the Advanced Technology Program
  • Repeal the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act
  • Eliminate the Foreign Market Development Program
  • Eliminate the Market Access Program
  • Eliminate the Export Enhancement Program
  • Eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative

Continue reading »

Sep 212005
 

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers of all political stripes have used the "political climate suddenly altered by the hurricane to try to advance long-stalled, sometimes controversial initiatives." For example, Texas conservative Rep. Joe L. Barton is once again fighting to open up fragile coastal regions to offshore oil drilling, an idea that languished in Congress earlier this year. "If there is a silver lining [to the disaster], and I’m not saying that there is, but if there is, it may be that our country is beginning to realize how fragile our energy sector is," Barton said. Meanwhile, bills that could improve future disaster relief efforts have died. The Senate rejected a bill authorizing $1.5 billion to improve communications equipment, even though Sen. Bill Frist had said that while in New Orleans, "people could not communicate from one side of that room to the other."

What makes this really a sad story is that it comes as no surprise.

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