SOTU – Candidate Obama’s Siren Song Redux

Posted on January 26, 2011


Buoyed by recent polls, the President swept assuredly into the Senate Chamber this evening, mounted the podium and applied the balm of beautiful oratory to a nation beaten down by extreme weather and economic circumstance. At some moments, it was the President as cheerleader, not professor.  He called up our storied successes of the past and assured us that we had it in us to do it again.

He located us at another “sputnik moment”  but wait –  the rich and the oil companies must pay their fair share to return us to competitive shape.  In short, at the end of the day, we’ll all pay.  So let’s look at the oil companies.  Read the article from the Sacramento Bee that will let you know

Villainizing the petroleum industry does nothing to promote sound energy policy. Oil companies in the United States are the single biggest private sector investors in the development of alternative and renewable energy supplies. And oil companies pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the rest of the nation’s industrial sector. Attempting to promote one form of energy at the expense of another is a fool’s errand.

[and why do we subsidize them?]…[T]axpayers are subsidizing oil companies to the tune of $550 billion globally every year. [To suggest] ending those subsidies would “level the playing field” for alternative and renewable energy sources.

[But] the subsidies identified in [the International Energy Agency] report are not subsidies for oil companies. They are mostly subsidies used by governments around the world that keep energy costs down for some of the world’s poorest economies in an effort to stimulate economic development.

Most of the developed world, the report notes, applies “negative subsidies” on fossil fuels in the form of gasoline and diesel taxes. And California imposes the highest gasoline and diesel taxes on consumers of any state in America.

[T]he report concluded alternative and renewable energy sources worldwide are subsidized at much higher rates per unit of energy than fossil fuels.

While everyone was hoping for some specificity,  hopes can be dashed in the light of day when all the facts are in.  As usual, the devil is in the details.

When all is said and done, will Americans accept the fact that Obama has, with due sincerity, moved back to a center position – that place many of us independents had thought was his anchorage?  Surely this cat hasn’t got many more political lives to expend.  Can a leader break the people’s trust in him and then expect to rebuild that trust?

One could hope the polls will not continue upward for Obama so quickly.  Regaining trust should take time and effort.  At this writing, he hasn’t quite earned it.  A couple of good speeches does not a great president make.  As a matter of fact, an entire presidency based on oratory cannot be great.

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