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Republican Party establishing itself as the UnGreen Party

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

First the Republicans filibustered the Lieberman-Warner carbon cap and trade bill, effectively forcing Senate Democrats to shelve any carbon legislation until next year.

 

Now the Senate voted on two bills Tuesday that would have revoked tax breaks for Big Oil and extended tax credits to renewable energy. Proponents of the two measures touted them as vital for consumer relief and transition to new energy sources, but both measures failed to muster the 60 votes needed to proceed.

The first vote, on the Consumer First Energy Act, fell short of cloture by a vote of 51-43. The second, on the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, failed by a vote of 50-44. Both votes fell largely along party lines.

Trade organizations that represent renewable-energy firms on the Hill say they're already seeing a slowing of growth in the sector because companies are hesitant to start new projects without the assurance that these credits will be available.

 

It seems to me as though Republicans are making a fatal flaw in putting wrong-headed economic arguments above the environment.  This newest one harms the renewable energy industry just so we can continue giving tax breaks to big oil!

post #2 of 14

taxing oil companies profits or removing their tax breaks (pretty much the same) would only result in a higher price at the pump for consumers. Do you really think the oil companies wouldn't pass their increased cost of doing business on to consumers? Do democrat law makers think that wouldn't happen?

 

There is no such thing as a corporate tax. It will always get passed down to the consumer. The reason law makers like to tax companies is because most people (voters) don't realize the additional cost of the tax gets passed on so they aren't against it.

 

Would people be for it if the dem's bill was written to raise the gasoline sales tax by $.50/gallon?

 

Additionally, all of these oil companies are publically traded companies. What that means is that they have stock available for anyone to buy. Who buys it? Well a vast majority of the middle class buys it via mutual funds purchased through their 401(k) or other retirement programs.

 

So now not only would this bill screw us by raising the price at the pump, it'd mess with our retirement savings as well.

 

 

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

There are two problems with your analysis.

 

1) You're only looking at economics and completely ignoring environmental impacts.  This is primarily an environmental bill.  Your argument is basically "it will cost a lot".  Okay fine, but what do we get in return for that cost?  You ignore the returns, which are massive (like avoiding catastrophic climate change).

 

2) You don't even get the economics right.  For example:

 

Quote:
 

Originally Posted by mattress:

Would people be for it if the dem's bill was written to raise the gasoline sales tax by $.50/gallon?

 

 

 

That's 50 cents (actually 47 cents) by the year 2030 It will only raise gas prices by at most 13 cents per gallon over the next 4 years.  I don't know about you, but where I live, gas prices have been going up that much on nearly a weekly basis.

 

Plus again you're ignoring the other side of the economics - the payback.  A carbon cap and trade bill like this might cost a few percent of our GDP, but it will also help reduce the mitigation costs down the road which studies have shown will be 5-20% of annual GDP if we take no action.

 

I'm talking 3% of the GDP over several decades now to avoid 5-20% of the GDP per year in the future.  You have to take more than the immediate economic costs into account in evaluating this legislation. 

 

Not to mention the fact that this bill would have used the funds to invest in alternative technologies which would have created a lot of green collar jobs and thus benefitted the economy in that manner too.

 

Plus this was conservative legislation!  Just wait until the Dems get more control of government next year and push for 80% reductions instead of this weak 66% reduction.  Republicans made a huge mistake in blocking Lieberman-Warner.


Edited by dana1981 - Fri, 13 Jun 2008 18:39:47 UTC
post #4 of 14

If it will only raise gas prices by 13 cents per gallon over the next 4 years then why wasn't that the legislation? why do they try to hide it behind taxing the oil companies? Why not just say gas now costs 13 cents per gallon extra and that money will go to renewable energy?

I don't believe mandating/legislating environmentalism will ever work, people will rebel, ignore, and find loopholes. What will work is making being green worthwhile to their pocket book (not the environment). Educate people (and companies) how being green saves them money, and you'll see a lot more and much better results than any legislation.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattress:

If it will only raise gas prices by 13 cents per gallon over the next 4 years then why wasn't that the legislation? why do they try to hide it behind taxing the oil companies? Why not just say gas now costs 13 cents per gallon extra and that money will go to renewable energy?


 

It's not a tax either - it's a cap and trade system.  Companies will have to buy carbon credits at an auction (or from other companies with extras) in order to cover their emissions.

 

As a result, because they'll have to pay this extra money for tax credits, companies will have to raise prices.  It's estimated that this will cause oil companies to raise gas prices by no more than 13 cents over the next 4 years.

 

With the money from those carbon credit auctions, the government will do various things, including funding alternative energies.

 

You're talking about a carbon tax.  Since the cap and trade system was blocked by Republicans, the House is currently discussing a straight-up tax.  I suspect it will meet with the same fate.  A cap and trade system is better because you can regulate exactly how much CO2 our industries emit.  With a tax, they can emit as much as they're willing to pay (or as much as we're willing to pay in higher prices on their products).  It's a less rigid restriction.

post #6 of 14

I believe the solution to our problem will not come from government or venture capital, but from a more disruptive force much like the Open Source movement in software.

 

In my mind, there is ZERO difference between Government and Corporate America. They are both powers that exercise centralized control and we all know how well that works ...

 

In an ideal world, every household can produce the energy they need just like they can buy ingredients and cook their own food. As utopian as that sounds, there's several great minds working in that direction already, they're just keeping *real quiet*. These solutions will naturally emerge in the developing world, as nothing really disruptive will be allowed here; all innovation will be stopped dead on its tracks by our elected corporate a** lickers in the House and Senate.

 

The biggest redistribution of wealth in human history lies ahead of us.

 


Edited by stins - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:22:08 GMT
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterA650:

I believe the solution to our problem will not come from government or venture capital, but from a more disruptive force much like the Open Source movement in software.

 

In my mind, there is ZERO difference between Government and Corporate America. They are both powers that exercise centralized control and we all know how well that works ...


In an ideal world, every household can produce the energy they need just like they can buy ingredients and cook their own food. As utopian as that sounds, there's several great minds working in that direction already, they're just keeping *real quiet*. These solutions will naturally emerge in the developing world, as nothing really disruptive will be allowed here; all innovation will be stopped dead on its tracks by our elected corporate ass lickers in the House and Senate.

 

The biggest redistribution of wealth in human history lies ahead of us.


 

 

Open source software? I love it, and use it for as much as possible, BUT open source is still the poor cousin compared to the big IT players if you look at desktop OS's, browsers, servers etc. While I agree that we need scientific innovation, we also need someone keeping an eye on the big picture and making sure that we are actually acheiving what 'we' want to do.

 

And don't forget that the only Government solution we have seen in America is from a Bush Administration (Global warming? There is no global warming!)... many countries are working towards making their country more sustainable etc.

 

That said, I don't hold much hope for the politicians here every actually achieving much....

 

 

 

post #8 of 14

Don't get me wrong, I dislike paying high gas prices. The upside, yes the upside, it is teaching a lot of us to be more wise about driving. It's teaching us hard lessons that we shouldn't have taken for granted for so long. It's teaching people to ride a bike again. It's teaching us to car pool again. It's showing the world that alternatives are with-in reach. We only reach for them when in crisis, so if it's crisis that's needed, then bring it on!

 

I dunno, but I think there is a silver linning to this. It's humbling us.

 

It's unfortunate that it's hurting people who are already down. I do not mean any harm by my statements, so please don't think I'm gloating that prices are high. I just feel that there are leasons for us to learn and maybe now it's too late, and it will help teach us to no be so darned greedy.

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi:

 

Open source software? I love it, and use it for as much as possible, BUT open source is still the poor cousin compared to the big IT players if you look at desktop OS's, browsers, servers etc. While I agree that we need scientific innovation, we also need someone keeping an eye on the big picture and making sure that we are actually acheiving what 'we' want to do.

 

And don't forget that the only Government solution we have seen in America is from a Bush Administration (Global warming? There is no global warming!)... many countries are working towards making their country more sustainable etc.

 

That said, I don't hold much hope for the politicians here every actually achieving much.... 

 

 

I totally agree (although to be fair, although he's done diddly squat about it, Bush has acknowledged antropogenic global warming for several years now).  In order to achieve the necessary goals, we absolutely need government regulation like the Lieberman-Warner bill (but preferably less conservative).

 

I'm probably a bit more optimistic than you because I'm hopeful the Democrats will gain more control in November and use it to take action.  The only reason they haven't been able to is that roughly half the Senate and the White House are still controlled by  Republicans.  Hopefully that will change come November.

 

Organicgal - I'm with you, while in some aspects high gas prices are unfortunate, they also have some very good consequences, like motivating people to get rid of their gas guzzlers and get smaller cars, alternative fuel vehicles, bike, ride public transportation, etc.  We just become more efficient.

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981:
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattress:

If it will only raise gas prices by 13 cents per gallon over the next 4 years then why wasn't that the legislation? why do they try to hide it behind taxing the oil companies? Why not just say gas now costs 13 cents per gallon extra and that money will go to renewable energy?


 

It's not a tax either - it's a cap and trade system.  Companies will have to buy carbon credits at an auction (or from other companies with extras) in order to cover their emissions.

 

As a result, because they'll have to pay this extra money for tax credits, companies will have to raise prices.  It's estimated that this will cause oil companies to raise gas prices by no more than 13 cents over the next 4 years.

 

With the money from those carbon credit auctions, the government will do various things, including funding alternative energies.

 

You're talking about a carbon tax.  Since the cap and trade system was blocked by Republicans, the House is currently discussing a straight-up tax.  I suspect it will meet with the same fate.  A cap and trade system is better because you can regulate exactly how much CO2 our industries emit.  With a tax, they can emit as much as they're willing to pay (or as much as we're willing to pay in higher prices on their products).  It's a less rigid restriction.

 

Apparently we're arguing around one another, I'm talking about the windfall profits tax on the oil companies (dumb idea) and you're talking about the cap and trade system. I don't know but I think we've seen how great that has worked in Europe haven't we?

 

Also wouldn't these measures just help continue to move industry out of this country and into countries that don't have cap and trade systems in place? Like I said before people will rebel, ignore, and find loopholes to aviod mandated regulation. They'll jump on the save money bus pretty quickly though.


Edited by mattress - Mon, 16 Jun 2008 13:19:18 GMT
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattress:

Apparently we're arguing around one another, I'm talking about the windfall profits tax on the oil companies (dumb idea) and you're talking about the cap and trade system. I don't know but I think we've seen how great that has worked in Europe haven't we?


 

I see.   Well I disagree that a windfall tax would be a dumb idea, but the bills in question would simply have revoked existing tax breaks for oil companies.

post #12 of 14

revoking tax breaks is the same as increasing taxes: If you have a tax break that is some tax you don't have to pay. If that tax break is removed then you now have to pay that tax, ie the amount of money you pay in taxes just went up.

 

I have less of a problem with this however, than taxing the oil companies "windfall profits." This is because oil comapnies really didn't make any sort of windfall profit. Yes they made a very large amount of money in profit that sounds extremely huge if you look at it in terms of dollars. However oil companies are extremely huge organizations and have extremely huge operating costs. When compared on a scale of revenue to profit oil companies are not all that profitable.

 

Let’s compare Exxon and McDonalds. In the first quarter, Exxon brought in $116.854 billion in revenue, while McDonalds brought in $5.615 billion in revenue. That means, in terms of raw revenue, Exxon is the size of 20.81 McDonalds - so it would be reasonable to think that it should earn the profit of 20.81 McDonalds. Exxon reported a profit of $10.89 billion in the first quarter, while McDonalds brought in a profit of $946 million. Exxon only earned the profit of 11.51 Mcdonalds. Per dollar of revenue, McDonalds is almost doubly as profitable as Exxon - for every dollar in revenue, McDonalds profits 16.8 cents, while Exxon only profits 9.3 cents.

 

Should we be windfall profit taxing McDonalds?

 

What if we were to tax exxon so their profit is around 4 cents/dollar in revenue? This would destroy them financially; investors would pull out, fast. Exxon would lose their ability to extract oil, turn it into gasoline and deliver it to you. Imagine the US in one year with no gasoline to be had anywhere. The economy would be devastated. Is it worth the few billion we'll take from them now?

 

Instead we should fight oil dependance at the revenue level, not at the profit level. Buy a fuel efficient car or better yet, an electric one. If five million people were to purchase electric vehicles instead of whining about gas prices and oil profits things, would change very quickly. Competition in EVs would ramp up, the cost of electric vehicles would plummet to being comprable with gas vehicles, and when that happens electric vehicles win hands down.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

I agree that revoking tax breaks is a preferable solution to a windfalls tax.

post #14 of 14

Well, maybe with all the money Democratic politician's have saved consumers by closing the Enron loophole with Senator Carl Levin's recently passed Senate Bill S.2058, we can afford to revisit and implement cap and trade and windfall profit taxes. Just check out what happened to gas prices before and after Democrats closed off the energy market from the out of control deregulated speculation that the Republican culture of corruption encouraged!

Moral of the story, never trust a Republican on matters of the economy... Even when they aren't totally incompetent, they are usually in the pockets of big business and market speculators that live for artificially increasing prices.

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