Call Their Bluff

3 comments August 4th, 2008at 08:17pm Posted by Eli

Dean Baker has an excellent idea for putting the oil companies and drilling-everywhere-will-cut-gasoline-prices-in-half wankers on the spot:

Since the drilling advocates are telling us that increased drilling will bring down the price of gas, there is no reason not to take them at their word. Why not just give them the green light to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Florida Coast and other offshore protected areas, Mount Rushmore and anywhere else on the planet that they want.

However, open drilling season comes with a simple quid pro quo. The oil industry gets slapped with a windfall profits tax that takes away any revenue in excess of $3 a gallon. Since we know it takes time to search for oil and drill wells, we can even give the oil boys a six-month grace period before the windfall tax takes effect.

Based on what Senator McCain and the Republicans are telling us, this windfall profits tax shouldn’t be of any concern to the industry. After all, opening up these protected areas for drilling will lead to a huge gusher of new oil on the market. This increased supply should push the price of gas back below $2 a gallon. According to McCain and the Republicans, once we declare open season for drilling, $4-a-gallon gas will just be a bad memory of what happens when you let environmentalists run the country.

It would be interesting to see the response if Senator Obama or Democrats in Congress put forward this proposal. If McCain and the Republicans believe what they have been saying, then they should have no problem putting a windfall profits tax provision into their bill, since they know it will have no effect. On the other hand, if they believe what all the experts are saying – that additional drilling will have no noticeable impact on oil prices – then they will strongly oppose this bill, since it would be a huge tax on their friends in the oil industry.

In short, this compromise “drill anywhere” plan is a simple way to force Senator McCain and the Republicans to tell the country whether they really believe that drilling in protected areas will lower gas prices, or whether they are knowingly making false claims for political gain. The “drill anywhere” plan will make them tell the truth without waterboarding.

This is a lot like telling Bush, Cheney, and all the neocons that they can invade any country they want, any time they want, but since they would obviously never do so without it being both existentially important and eminently winnable, all of their combat-age children and/or grandchildren would be the first ones on the front lines, and they themselves would have to visit the invadee nation five years after the invasion… without military escort.

You know, I’m liking this as a general Democratic strategy: Whenever Republicans make extravagant and transparently false claims to justify their terrible ideas, offer them a “compromise” that includes a painful (and preferably ironic) penalty if said claims do not pan out.

Never happen, of course.  But fun to think about.

Entry Filed under: Economy,Energy,McCain,Politics,Republicans

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