Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 19, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

DICK CHENEY'S ENERGY BILL FINALLY HITS THE SENATE....Here's a smidgen of good news: Maine's two Republican senators have joined John McCain in saying they will vote against the odious new energy bill negotiated behind closed doors and hurriedly passed by the House yesterday.

It gets kind of depressing reading about this stuff after a while, so I've only plowed through four or five articles about this bill. Still, as near as I can tell, there's literally no one who favors it except for the folks directly in line for handouts. This New York Times article summarizes reaction:

Policy analysts across the political spectrum yesterday denounced the energy bill that Republicans in Congress hope to push to approval this week, saying it represented micromanagement of the economy and would open vast new opportunities for tax cheating.

Many experts said they were taken aback by the size of the proposed breaks...

Given the realities of electoral politics, it takes a lot for insiders to be "taken aback" by anything that comes out of Congress, but this legislation does it. The Times lists opposition from the Heritage Foundation, Cato, Citizens for Tax Justice, and Public Citizen, and so far I haven't seen a single non-industry group come out in favor of it. When both Heritage and Citizens for Tax Justice oppose something, you know there's a problem.

The biggest one for me is that there's nothing to blog about. This bill is very plainly nothing but an enormous piece of corporate welfare, with tax giveaways and unneeded incentives for practically every energy-related lobbying group around but practically no actual energy policy. It's just one big pork fest, and the folks who came up with it barely even did us the courtesy of trying to hide it. There's nothing in this bill that deserves any serious analysis.

Is the free market in coal and oil really so broken down that America's energy industry needs $100 billion worth of tax breaks in order to bother coming in to work every morning? And are Senate Democrats really so craven that they're going to allow themselves to be bribed into supporting this monstrosity by the pittance of a few billion dollars in ethanol subsidies? I hope the answer to both questions is no.

Kevin Drum 9:46 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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