This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published April 29, 2011 on The Washington Times website.
When Barack Obama is in flyover country, if you close your eyes, you can almost hear a moderate Republican on the stump. But when he’s on the Left Coast, the real Obama surfaces, bristling with praise for confiscatory taxation, redistributing wealth and ever bigger government.
It was in San Francisco, after all, that he let slip his famous gaffe on April 6, 2008, about rural Pennsylvanians clinging to “guns and religion.” And it was in San Francisco last week that he told a Democratic National Committee audience that America’s greatness comes from government spending, not from God-given liberty, limited government and a market economy that produced the freest, wealthiest country in history.
No, America’s greatness, apparently, came only with the New Deal and Great Society, when Washington grew from a sleepy town into a confiscatory monster sucking the life out of the rest of the country. That’s when Michelle Obama became, for the first time in her adult life, proud of her country. Wait, sorry. That was when Barack won the nomination in 2008.
But it’s never enough. Like the gangster Johnny Rocco in the 1948 Bogart classic “Key Largo,” Mr. Obama wants more. “Yeah, Rocco [Barack] wants more.”
Here’s a snippet of Mr. Obama’s April 20 remarks:
“I will not reduce our deficit by sacrificing the things that have always made America great. The things that have made Americans prosper. I won’t sacrifice our investments in education. I will not sacrifice those. I won’t sacrifice our investments in science and basic research. I won’t sacrifice the safety of our highways or our airports.”
Read: Republicans want cars and planes to crash, scientists to hang up their lab coats and kids to get dumber.
In one of the most appalling displays of sheer gall, Mr. Obama decried America’s dependence on foreign oil. This is the president whose executive agencies have strangled new ventures to tap America’s enormous fossil-fuel resources.
“I won’t sacrifice our investment in clean energy at a time when our dependence on foreign oil is causing Americans so much pain at the pump,” he told the DNC crowd.
And more pain is on the way. Mr. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied a permit to Shell Oil Co. to drill off Alaska’s coast. The company spent five years and nearly $4 billion preparing to give America a 27-billion-barrel shot in the arm of our domestic oil supply, which is down to 7 million barrels a day, 13 million short of what America uses.
Too bad, Shell. The extremist green lobby that dominates this administration is intent on destroying fossil-fuel industries to prepare us for a mythical wind-, solar- and rickshaw-powered immediate future. You can’t say Mr. Obama did not warn us. He said explicitly in January 2008, for example, that his proposed “cap-and-trade” system would “bankrupt” anyone who wanted to build a new coal-fired plant.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama was at it again, urging Congress to punish oil companies by ending “unwarranted” tax breaks. The man who has done more than anyone to jack up the price of gas said that high pump prices “provide more than enough profit motive to invest in domestic exploration and production.” Yes, if you will stop flirting with Brazil and get your foot off the neck of U.S. energy companies.
Meanwhile, China is expected within five years to require 15 million barrels of oil a day, up from the current 9 million. India is going to need 7 million barrels, up from its current use of 4 million. That’s a lot of competition for resources that Mr. Obama is making even scarcer.
Former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, who is arguing for a balanced energy policy through his nonprofit group Citizens for Affordable Energy, warns that the government’s sabotage of fossil fuels and the world’s growing appetite will cause not just crippling prices but shortages here within two to three years.
While Mr. Obama scoffs at the notion that new drilling would make a difference, the United States sits on perhaps 1 trillion recoverable barrels of oil, enough to last more than 200 years without any Middle Eastern oil. Unleashing this could create millions of jobs, lift the economy and free us from dependence on foreign oil. Instead, the president pretends to back new production while his bureaucrats smother it.
Mr. Obama’s most misleading assertion might be that the United States has “about 2 [percent], maybe 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves; we use 25 percent of the world’s oil.” As Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski noted in a recent column, “That line is crafted to make the audience think that America is both running out of oil and using oil at an unsustainable rate.”
The weasel term is “proven.” That includes only oil under sites already approved and prepared for harvest. The Congressional Research Service estimates that the U.S. has 157 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Another 900 billion from shale and other unconventional sources will soon be recoverable. The only thing blocking this energy bounty is the hard leftists who populate the White House, executive agencies and U.S. Senate. They are hellbent on making America swallow the Gaia version of the Earth, socialist economics and Al Gore’s man-caused climate change.
As for the gaping federal deficit that’s freaking out the numbers crunchers at Standard & Poor’s, Mr. Obama’s friends at the left-wing Center for American Progress have an answer. In a Good Friday column in The Washington Post, Matt Miller trashed the House GOP’s budget proposal and admitted that Mr. Obama’s plan would add “$7 trillion in red ink over the next decade.” He touted, instead, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (read: socialist) plan, which “still wins the fiscal responsibility derby thus far; it reaches balance by 2021 largely through assorted tax hikes and defense cuts.”
That’s the ticket. Give the government even more of our money. That should teach it not to spend so much. And soften the Defense Department while the Middle East blows up.
The only hope we have is if Americans ignore the Obama-crazy media and start asking why our spendaholic government needs higher taxes and why gas pumps are functioning like ATMs in reverse.