by Rep. John Carter (TX)
Throughout history rebellion meant citizens rising up against government when conditions become unbearable. Such was our case in 1776, when we overthrew the British and established our Republic.
We did so based on the premise that our new government would be elected and the servant of the people, not vice-versa. This new democratic republican system was designed to hopefully eliminate any future need for us, the people, to revolt. If we don’t like the actions of our government, we can now just vote them out of office. For over 200 years, that has worked to generally assure that the actions of Washington reflect the will of the people.
But today we find ourselves with a federal government that is running roughshod over average working Americans with apparent impunity. Over and over the people express their will on the key issues facing the nation, and Washington responds by ignoring them and doing the opposite.
Ironically, we now have a likely unique historical case of the government in rebellion against the people.
Last year’s gas crisis – in the middle of a presidential election year - produced an outpouring of public sentiment on what to do about energy, and an equal outpouring of campaign pledges by federal candidates.
Polls of any kind of course have to be examined with great skepticism. It is only when multiple polls, taken by organizations on the right, left, and center start reporting the same data that the results can be taken seriously. Let’s look at those poll results on energy policy leading up to last November’s election.
According to CNN, CBS, the New York Times, ABC, Stanford University, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, FOX News, and too many others to mention, an average 63% of Americans supported lifting the long-time ban on drilling for more domestic oil and gas offshore and in Alaska - by margins from ranging from 55 to 77%.
With these results coming in that close to Election Day, there were big political results. After decades of opposing expanded domestic drilling, Democrats in the House last fall – before the elections - agreed to drop the ban on offshore drilling, and President Bush granted new oil and gas exploration leases nationwide. We were finally on the road to replacing foreign oil with American oil and gas.
So far this year, an average 74% majority of Americans oppose a new federal gas tax, according to Rasmussen, FOX News, CNN, and others, with a range between 65 and 83%.
Gallup, the Wall Street Journal, and NBC report an average 81% of Americans favor using the federal government to encourage alternative energy resources such as wind and solar power, with responses ranging between 72 and 90%. An average 65% also approve of federal support for existing oil, natural gas, and coal exploration and development, and nuclear power now enjoys an all-time high average public approval rate of 60%, according to the latest Gallup and Los Angeles Time/Bloomberg surveys.
Most importantly, the human side of last year’s energy crisis was also evident in multiple polls and has continued into this year, with gas prices having taken off again this spring. An average 72% of American households say high energy prices have created financial hardship for their families, according to polls by Quinnipiac University, USA Today/Gallup, ABC News/Planet Green/Stanford University, and the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg.
Based on all this, the public provided Congress with some very clear guidelines on what they expect out of new federal energy policy, and all Congress needed to do was draft it and pass it.
1. Expanded wind and solar power – 81% public approval
2. No new energy taxes – 74% public approval
3. Lower energy prices – 72% public approval
4. Continue existing oil and gas support – 65% public approval
5. Expanded offshore and Alaska oil drilling – 63% public approval
6. Expand nuclear power – 60% public approval
Here’s what just passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee last week, and will advance to a vote in the House tomorrow.
1. Expanded wind and solar power – so far so good, just wait.
2. Raise energy prices - an estimated minimum $1 a gallon on gas, and at least $100 a month on home power bills. And these costs could be much, much higher.
3. A massive $836 billion tax on all energy through the “cap and trade” scheme
4. Block new offshore and Alaska drilling, tax existing drilling
5. Cut support for existing oil and gas exploration and development
6. Make expanded nuclear power impossible by blocking nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, while verbally promising more nuclear power.
What a difference it makes to have the election behind us! Only one out of six highly-approved public agenda items made it into the House leadership’s so-called “Energy Bill”. On the other five – including the ones that make the day-to-day difference in whether our working families continue in hardship, this crowd has done exactly the opposite of what the public needed, asked for and expected.
If this passes into law, count on crushing price hikes on all consumer products and services impacted by energy costs – not just gas and power bills, but food, clothes, practically everything in modern society.
In the middle of the worst economy since the long-stagflation of Jimmy Carter, with 9.4% unemployment and the highest foreclosure rate since record-keeping began in the 1970’s, the majority in the House and Senate are poised to throw a horrible yoke of higher taxes on our struggling working families.
And the phrase “working families” is not just rhetoric. This new plan provides the energy equivalent of food stamps to low income families making less than $42,000 a year, and individuals making less than $23,000, to cover the cost of their tax increase. The resulting tax rate on everyone else is consequently jacked up even higher, putting the financial hardship burden entirely on the U.S. middle class – precisely the group that President Obama promised would not face any tax increases under his Administration.
The current minority of conservatives in the House will do everything we can to fight this, but Washington right now is drunk with power and thinks they can just ignore public opinion and any need to compromise.
So the “cap and trade” energy tax of the far left continues to advance through the halls of Congress, in spite of being opposed by the overwhelming majority of Americans. But that majority can prove them wrong in November 2010, and we better do so or face a permanently diminished future.