That's why I'm so disheartened by the giveaways in Congress's energy bill. These guys are acting like they need to bribe oil executives to drill for oil to sell at $50 a barrel.
Here's the letter that Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the Government Reform Committee sent to Speaker Hastert to let him know that Energy Committee Chairman Joe Barton's staff had snuck a $1.5 BILLION hand-out that is aimed at a particular group of Texas oil companies into the bill, after the mark-up session was supposed to be over. Over one-third of the total was worked in as a "direct spending" measure, so if passed, it would be outside of the standard congressional appropriations process. So what's the cool $1.5 Bil for? Glad you asked! It is meant to go towards "Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources" [Italics mine]. Well, that went from Ultra-Specific to Unconventionally Vague really quickly. What is quite clear is just who the money is aimed at. The language of the bill mandates that the government "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium." Sounds general, except it's not. It's just about a sure thing the bill refers to a consortium known as the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA), which is based in Sugar Land, Texas--made famous by its representation in Congress by one Hon. Tom Delay. Chairman Barton is also from Texas. The Board members of RPSEA include Halliburton and Marathon Oil Company. Marathon Oil's PAC contributed heavily to Republican (and to a lesser extent Democratic) candidates in the 2004, including donations to both Delay's and Barton's campaigns. Looks like their return on investment will exceed all expectations! In his letter, Waxman says that the "top oil companies" in this country are expected to break all records and earn over $230 Billion in 2005. Why on earth would Congressional Republicans bend over backwards to sneak them an extra $1.5 Billion? This is not in our common interest and it is also absolutely unnecessary. Why spend taxpayer dollars subsidizing an amazingly profitable industry? This makes no sense.
Here are the Boston Globe and Reuters articles on this story.
Update: Rep. Joe Barton has finally explained, based the merits, why everyone should support his energy bill, filled with all the giveaways. Because everyone against is "so anti-American....[long awkward pause]....economic growth and opportunity."
He must have realized that he sounded odd, because he went into this eloquent backtrack. So reports the Dallas Morning News:
Did Mr. Barton really consider the opponents anti-American? a reporter asked a moment later.
"No. No," he said. "What I said was, ask them why they're opposed to something which is pro-American economic growth and opportunity. That's what I said."
An hour later, Mr. Barton remained puzzled that his statement had come across so harshly.
"If I said it, I didn't mean to," he said in an interview. "Anybody can oppose any bill and still be pro-American. That's silly. ...
"My gosh," he said, "we've got 100 senators and 435 House members, and I assume that if some subset of America votes for you, either congressman or senator, you're a person who's pro-America."
Mr. Barton, nice job with the explanation. Don't be scared to go with your gut though. Sometimes, the best bet is to just call your opponents "anti-American." Otherwise, you might need to explain to your constituents how you're sending their hard earned tax dollars straight to the oil companies.