The Republicans rolled out their 2012 Budget yesterday, under the catchy title of “the path to prosperity”.
In fact you could have called it the “well-trodden road to ruin”.
The budget by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will be seen by political commentators as raising the stakes for the upcoming spending battle between the GOP and the President and Democrats. And once again one of the key battles will be over energy.
The document uses some pretty potent language accusing President Obama of “promoting a heavy-handed compliance culture in the energy sector”, through a “toxic mix of increased spending and more regulations.”
But it is the GOP plan that looks both tired and toxic. It repeats well-trodden arguments that have been comprehensively discredited.
The plan says that the President has “stifled domestic energy production by blocking or delaying production both onshore and offshore, destroying jobs and idling American energy sources.”
Under “Boosting American energy resources” it argues that “Too great a percentage of America’s vast natural resources remain locked behind bureaucratic barriers and red tape. This budget removes moratoriums on safe, responsible energy exploration in the United States, ends Washington policies that drive up gas prices, and unlocks American energy production to help lower costs, create jobs, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.”
We have heard it before. Politicians marching merrily to the oil industry’s tune. When in doubt Drill, Baby, Drill.
For years American politicians have promised that once the holy grail of energy independence is realised, then gas prices will come down.
However, this “Sisyphean task” will never be realised by just drilling for more oil. You will never be able to drill enough domestic oil to make the addiction cheap enough for all, without trashing the climate and the natural beauty of the United States in the process. Even then you will never reach your goal.
Another elephant in the room is that even when politicians promise “safe, responsible” energy they end up getting irresponsible and dangerous oil. The Deepwater disaster actually happened. It wasn’t made up in a fairy story.
In contrast to the politically-favoured GOP oil industry, the plan attacks the President’s support for “politically favoured renewable-energy interests” that has resulted in gas prices doubling since the President took office.
The naivety of this argument is beyond parody. Gas prices are at record levels in the UK at the moment, and that’s got nothing to do with Obama’s domestic drilling programme or support for renewable energy.
Like a one trick pony the GOP also reiterates its support for the “American Energy Initiative” (read Drill, Baby, Drill) which in turn backs up the Republicans’ Pledge to America commitment to “increase access to domestic energy sources and oppose attempts to impose a national ‘cap and trade’ energy tax.”
Not surprisingly Democrats joined clean-energy advocates in attacking the proposals.
“It continues business as usual on fossil fuels under the guise of reducing regulation and increasing energy independence,” lamented Josh Freed, director of the energy program at think tank, the Third Way.
The budget panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said: “They don’t want to talk about cuts to things like subsidies for the oil companies”.
Talking about subsidies would be far too sensible.