The President is calling on you to write your representative and ask them to stand with you against big oil. He wants to end the 4 billion in subsidies the oil companies are getting as they make record profits.
Obama said, “In the next few weeks, I expect Congress to vote on ending these subsidies. And when they do, we’re going to put every single Member of Congress on record: They can either stand up for oil companies, or they can stand up for the American people. They can either place their bets on a fossil fuel from the last century, or they can place their bets on America’s future. So make your voice heard. Send your representative an email. Give them a call. Tell them to stand with you.”
President Obama also used his weekly address to push back on the Republican selling point that they will bring gas prices down by drilling more here. He pointed out, “It’s easy to promise a quick fix when it comes to gas prices. There just isn’t one. Anyone who tells you otherwise – any career politician who promises some three-point plan for two-dollar gas – they’re not looking for a solution. They’re just looking for your vote.”
Obama is focused on ways we can be less dependent on foreign oil in the long run, by “producing more energy and using less.” He pointed out that in fact his administration signed Wall Street reforms to stop traders from unfairly manipulating the energy market, “Unrest in the Middle East can tighten global oil supply. Growing nations like China or India adding cars to the road increases demand. But one thing we should control is fraud and manipulation that can cause prices to spike even further.”
The truth is that we drill more under this administration than we did under Bush. Obama called out “career politicians” who make promises they can’t keep about 2 dollar gas, since gas prices are set on the global market and are impacted by a number of factors out of our control.
Republicans stand united for big oil, but there are also plenty of Democrats in states where oil is the industry who stand with them. This is a fight against big oil owning your representative. Any representative bought by big oil needs to feel that they might go in 2012. If only the people could be as vocal and united against these outrageous subsidies as they are for other causes or as the Tea Party was against healthcare reform (the surreal chants of “get the government out of my Medicare” haven’t left me yet. If they can fight for something so absurd, surely the people can unite against big oil.)
Big oil gets 4 billion dollars a year in subsidies while they are making record profits. A “subsidy” is the same thing as welfare; it’s money paid for by taxpayers to “incentivize” drilling. It’s corporate padding. It’s “assistance” in times of need, sometimes offered when the industry is needed but can’t make it on its own. Clearly that is not the case with the oil industry.
In a free market, why would small government Republicans be pushing for giving taxpayer money to companies that are already making record profits?
Republicans also want to roll back the Wall Street reforms Obama passed, which attempt to protect us from companies like Enron manipulating energy costs for their own gain. The President said, “So it’s not just wrong, but dangerous that some in Congress want to roll back those protections and return to the days when companies like Enron could avoid regulation and reap enormous profits, no matter who it hurt.”
Now, why won’t the Republicans and some Democrats consider cutting those subsidies? Republicans are against subsidies for alternative energy, and yet they scream about gas prices. Gee. Whatever could be the issue? Could it be the amount of money the oil industry uses for lobbying your representatives to vote in their favor?
Money that goes to the oil industry to bribe them to work is no different than money spent on alternative energy, except that alternative energy is needed if we are to be a leader in the future and is not making record profits. Workable, real alternative energy actually needs to be incentivized for our future. Alternative energy can also be a source of new jobs, while big oil has downsized jobs while making record profits. Why are we paying them 4 billion dollars and not even requiring them to hire more workers, but we are making welfare recipients pee in a cup?
Now is the time for the people’s voices to rise up and be heard, for the Occupy movements, labor movements and all movements of the people to stand up and make their voices heard. This isn’t just about the environment; no, it’s about market fairness, it’s about pushing back hard against Wall Street, it’s about how we spend our money, and it’s about whose money controls your representative.
It’s also about having the back of the people who are pushing against big oil. They need political cover, especially in an election year. You can give it to them, you can motivate them and justify their position, just as Occupy justified and strengthened the discussion regarding tax cuts for the 1%. You can drive the narrative and push it further toward the people and away from corporate money by making your voice heard.
That 4 billion dollars is our money, to be spent where we think it most needed. Republicans destroyed this country’s credit rating over the deficit, and yet they won’t even discuss cutting 4 billion in welfare to big oil. Why is that?
Just imagine if the political discussion were “justify these subsidies” instead of asking Americans to “make sacrifices” while giving billions to already profitable companies. The people united could make that happen.
True, it’s doubtful that in these times of corporate representation the oil subsidies will be revoked or even reduced immediately, but the real point here is to use this moment to change the dialogue, to take it back for the people. If enough people speak up, the question will at least be asked, and it needs to be asked. Questions are followed by polls which are followed by a changed political narrative, and changed narratives can and do make a difference. As all good leaders know, incremental change (while frustrating) is lasting change.
This week, your representatives will go on record as with you or with big oil. Make sure they know you are paying attention.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.