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Monday, August 11, 2008

Word to the Muncie Star-Press - The FACTS about Mike Pence

Yesterday, I received a copy of this humorous op-ed piece, disguised as an actual news article and written by Seth Slabaugh of the Muncie Star-Press. It just begged for a factual reply. Now I know that word has been slow to get out to some of the smaller media outlets in the rural American Heartland but, change is afoot! I further realize that you may be hesitant to replace the spoon-fed news of the last several years with updated and factual information due to fear of upsetting your readership. Relax! As our populist Texan friend, Jim Hightower, has noted - "The people are revolting! And I mean that in the best possible way." We hope you will join us!

MUNCIE -- U.S. Rep. Mike Pence's Democratic challenger, Barry Welsh, is calling for a windfall profits tax on big oil companies, and the liberal political action committee MoveOn is attacking Pence's relationship to big oil with radio ads.

Welsh also opposes Pence over drilling for American oil in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the Gulf of Mexico and the oceans off of the East Coast and West Coast.

Additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR would be only a small portion of total world oil production, and would likely be offset in part by somewhat lower production outside the United States. The opening of ANWR is projected to have its largest oil price reduction impacts as follows: a reduction in low-sulfur, light crude oil prices of $0.41 per barrel (2006 dollars) in 2026 for the low oil resource case, $0.75 per barrel in 2025 for the mean oil resource case, and $1.44 per barrel in 2027 for the high oil resource case, relative to the reference case.

"The high price of gasoline is ruining our economy and driving families that were already on the brink over the edge," Welsh told The Star Press. "One solution for immediate relief is to place a windfall profits tax on big oil executives and stop giving them taxpayer money on top of world record oil profits."

Pence couldn't be reached for comment Friday, but his chief of staff, Bill Smith, said "the last thing we need right now is more taxes," which would just drive up the cost of gas.

Welsh says the windfall profits tax revenue should be given as rebates to taxpayers.

"So what would happen is," Smith replied, "we increase the cost to the consumer to turn around and give it back to them."

The Windfall Profits Tax would not only reign in the big foreign oil companies, but also help the smaller American independents:

“The new windfall profits tax proposed is good for us independent oil operators.” This comes from a group of independent oil operators and wildcatters. Why? Obama’s new plan will basically exempt them and the burden of the revised version will fall on major oil companies and place an excise tax on foreign oil.

Well it seems they blame the multinationals (like Exxon/Mobil) for our dependency on foreign oil. “in the 1987, the multinationals and Opec got together to drive down the price of oil and force smaller independents out of business, so they could come back and raise prices once most of us were out of business. We’re glad to see they weren’t able to force “T” out.” T being a reference to to T Boone Pickens.

"When I ran last cycle, I warned of $4 to $5 a gallon gas if we didn't change, and we didn't," Welsh said. "Even if we began drilling and found oil ... it would have an impact of only a few cents, and that impact would not occur until 2018. By that time, American workers could be making the American vehicles of the future. We have to find new green solutions that include biomass fuels, wind and solar technologies ..."

Pence has said he supports not only new oil drilling but also more wind, solar and nuclear power, increased fuel efficiency for vehicles and alternative fuels.

During an interview earlier this week, Pence said he's against cutting subsidies to oil companies because those subsidies "encourage them to build more refineries, and most Americans recognize we have a severe shortage of refineries in this country."

An excerpt from today's Common Dreams issue titled "Leaked Oil Industry Memo Suggests Bid to Curb Refinery Output"debunks that idea:

Even as the Bush administration cites a lack of refineries as a cause of energy shortages, oil industry documents show that five years ago companies were looking for ways to cut refinery output to raise profits. The documents obtained by Sen.Wyden's office suggest that in the mid-1990s oil companies had no interest in building refineries because of low profit margins. In fact, companies were discussing the need to curtail refinery output in order to make more money, the documents suggest.

"If the U.S. petroleum industry doesn't reduce its refining capacity, it will never see any substantial increase in refinery margins (profits)," said an internal Chevron document in November 1995, citing views presented by participants at an American Petroleum Institute conference.

A year later, an official at Texaco, in a memo marked "highly confidential," called concerns about too much refinery capacity "the most critical factor" facing the refinery industry. Excess capacity is producing "very poor refining financial results," the memo said.

Wyden said the documents "raise significant questions about whether America's oil companies tried to pull off a financial triple play – boosting profits by reducing refinery capacity, tagging consumers with higher pump prices and then arguing for environmental rollbacks."

According to Smith, more than 70 percent of the people in Pence's congressional district believe we should increase drilling for American oil.

Polling from the GOP leaning Rasmussen Reports suggests otherwise:

A new Rasmussen Reports national survey, taken last night (Monday), finds that 45% think placing more restrictions on energy speculators is more important , while 42% take the opposite view that allowing offshore oil drilling is more important.

A major partisan divide on the issue, like the split in Congress, is evident, however. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Republicans say lifting the ban is the highest priority, while 59% of Democrats - and 48% of unaffiliated voters -- say controlling speculators is more important. Only 29% of unaffiliateds say lift the ban first.

In the latest survey, 46% oppose the present GOP congressional strategy of blocking other energy legislation until a vote on the offshore ban is allowed, but 28% support it. Even more Republicans (44%) are against their congressional leaders’ strategy than for it (38%).

MoveOn's radio ads ask: "Why is our Rep. Mike Pence grandstanding in Congress instead of working toward real solutions to high gas prices? Maybe it's because he's taken $30,000 from the big oil companies. He's been part of a failed energy policy written by big oil. In the last eight years, we've seen oil profits soar as the price of gasoline has gone from $2 to $4 a gallon. Big oil keeps running the show, getting billions in tax breaks."

Congress has been contolled by Democrats for nearly two years, Smith noted.

And, before that, Congress was controlled by Republicans for TWELVE years and the White House for nearly EIGHT years. Any questions? Perhaps this graph can answer those:

"Overall, 70 percent of (Pence's) donations come from individuals, and only 1 percent from oil companies," Smith said. "The idea that the oil industry in any way influences his voting is ridiculous."

Bill Smith is distorting the facts, and using the Muncie Star-Press to cloak his statements in a veil of credibility. MoveOn's numbers were actually lower than the reality. From Politico:

Democrats are basically saying "follow the money" on the energy debate, pointing out that lawmakers leading the Republican theatrics include Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who received $150,000 in oil company contributions. Stats from the Center for Responsive Politics show the industry contributed 26% of its donations to Democrats and 74% to Republicans.

I'm always available to help out any of you old media types with any facts that you may have trouble finding on your own. Thank you and good night!

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Blogger enigma4ever said...

great post..some of this I can't read cuz I am half blind...but I put you in my round up over at watergae summer..hope that is okay....

thanks for looking at all of this..great job..

title="comment permalink">August 12, 2008 12:13 AM  
Blogger Sewmouse said...

Please tell me you actually DID send this to the newspaper either E-mail or Snail?

title="comment permalink">August 12, 2008 12:07 PM  
Blogger John Good said...

Thank you, ladies. I just cannot stand by and watch the facts be thrown aside when I know better.

title="comment permalink">August 12, 2008 10:09 PM  

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