Normally I don’t pass along really blatant partisan propaganda.
But because I think Big Oil’s control over Washington is the biggest barrier America faces to enacting a sensible energy policy in the face of peak oil and climate change, I found the R-Oil Wedding campaign from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just too good to ignore.
Don’t get me wrong: I agree with Ralph Nader that Democrats and Republicans are just two wings of the same plutocratic party. Dems are surely no better than the GOP when it comes to taking corporate money and dancing the corporate tune.
But it does matter which kind of plutocrat supports which party.
Oil flows mostly to the right
It’s clear that Democrats have been run for years by Goldman Sachs, which provided the Obama Administration with officials including Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Rahm Emanuel, Gary Gensler and Mark Patterson. With such a lineup in the White House, it’s no surprise that the feds haven’t managed to send even one financial executive to jail after the 2008 financial collapse, as director Charles Ferguson pointed out in March when his film Inside Job won the 2010 Oscar for best documentary.
By contrast, Big Oil clearly favors the Republicans. And even though Obama got more cash from BP than any other politician, in general nobody can accuse the oil and gas industry of being bi-partisan corrupters.
Leading up to the 2010 elections, ExxonMobil gave 80% of its political donations to Republicans, the Independent Petroleum Association of America tagged 77% of its political giving to Republicans and uber bad-boy Koch Industries gave a full 90% of its support for political campaigns to Republicans.
(Question: how did Koch Industries even find enough Democrats to give that last 10% to?)
“For this wedding, in lieu of gifts, the happy couple would surely prefer more Big Oil tax breaks,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “After House Republicans had a decade long relationship of protecting Big Oil taxpayer giveaways, speculations and price gouging, this wedding seems like the next step. In their relationship for richer or really richer, we wish the happy couple all the best.”
Give a little, get a lot
Republicans who enjoyed big bucks from Big Oil while in Congress include House Speaker John Boehner (OH-08) at $346,700, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (VA-07) at $295,550 and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (MI-6) at $262,850.
And it would seem the industry got good value for money. Just three examples provided by the DCCC for Boehner alone:
- In 2008, Boehner voted to prevent the House from considering the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act.
- In 2007, Boehner voted against shifting revenue from royalties from oil and gas companies into a reserve fund for alternative and renewable energies.
- In 2003, Boehner voted in favor of the Republican energy bill, a massive handout to the coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas industries which included $37 billion in corporate tax breaks and subsidies for the coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas industries.
Jilted once but coming back again
Democrats have disappointed people who care about energy and climate again and again, from last year’s cap-and-trade mess to Obama’s continuing support for such dangerous fantasies as nuclear power and hackneyed swindles like clean coal.
But with his current push to cut oil subsidies, Obama has finally picked a worthy cause. And with the new prestige he’s acquired from taking down bin Laden, this time it might just work.
Of course the Democrats are politically motivated to attack oil and gas companies as one of the biggest sources of funding for Republicans. Why not? I say. That’s how politics works. And if the GOP wants to get back at the Dems by divorcing them from Wall Street, then all’s the better.
Successfully taming the political influence of the financial industry could have a positive ripple effect around the country, bringing relief to homeowners, credit card users and every business on Main Street. Likewise, breaking the grip of Big Oil on Washington will be crucial to have any hope of protecting America from climate hell and peak oil-driven economic collapse.
We need a national policy now to transition away from fossil fuels and get into deep conservation and onto clean energy. Because Big Oil fights so hard to save their own privileges and to kill renewables, the only way to get there may be over Exxon’s dead body — politically speaking, that is.
And if the Democrats do something bold to clean up our energy mess such as openly talking about and planning for peak oil, it could be their golden ticket. They may just find that more citizens are ready to get past the double-speak, listen to some home truths that connect the economy to the laws of physics and then pull together as communities to preserve anything like the American way of life into the future.
— Erik Curren