The Energy Bill

THE ENERGY BILL….Irwin Stelzer at the Weekly Standard does a good job of explaining and skewering the appalling Bush/Cheney energy bill ? so go read his article ? but then gets to the real meat of the matter in his final paragraph:

But it is not the expensive and useless provisions that the bill contains that should most trouble us. The major liability of this bill is not what it contains, but what it doesn’t. It leaves our energy policy stuck where it has been ever since Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and their successors talked the talk but failed to walk the walk towards a sensible response to our dependence on imports. We continue to rely on aircraft carriers and troops to assure adequate supplies of oil to fuel our cars and heat our homes. No photo op of a smiling president, pen in hand, surrounded by the grinning authors of this senseless legislation, can conceal that shameful fact.

That’s exactly right. We all know that legislation is like sausage, and if a bunch of pork-fueled compromises were the price of getting some good public policy, we could all hold our noses and support the bill. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

But the problem is that with a couple of (very) minor exceptions, there’s literally nothing worthwhile in this bill. Stelzer explains in passing why this is:

Rather than confront this problem by imposing a tax on imported oil….

Ah, a tax. But George Bush and Tom DeLay would rather chew off their own arms than admit that a tax increase is part of the answer to any problem, wouldn’t they?

It’s pretty sad that a bill nearly three years in the making could end up so completely irrelevant to the problem at hand. Unfortunately, as Paul Krugman has pointed out, this is not an administration that tries to solve problems, it’s an administration that says here’s a problem and how can we use it to advance the base’s agenda?

On that score, this bill seems to be pretty well crafted.