by NW Spotlight
After years of zigging and zagging on energy policy, President Obama has final found a strategy he can embrace: take credit for what other people are doing.
That’s the key takeaway from the State of the Union speech last night where he touted the domestic oil and natural gas boom that is driving down the price of fuel for Americans from Boston to LA. It’s a moment that surely gave his environmental base heartburn, but he knows smart politics when he sees it.
Unfortunately for him, he can’t lay claim to any of his own policies that are driving this energy boom. The exploration and production of domestic oil and gas is taking place almost entirely on private land, not through leases on public lands or offshore reserves. The success, however, is undeniable.
The oil and gas sector invested more back into the economy than any other sector of the economy – a whopping $40 billion – according to the liberal Progressive Policy Institute. The industry supports 10 million American jobs.
Obama’s previous strategy for penalizing this kind of success and job expansion is to target the industry for tax increases, as he did explicitly in last year’s State of the Union. His political braintrust may have learned that it’s not a good idea to cook this golden goose at the same time you’re taking credit for lower gas prices. But, watch that his reality matches his rhetoric. That proposed tax increase is coming as part of his budget, and it’ll take money directly out of the economy and the pockets of Americans. That’s how tax increases work.
Energy independence is something that all politicians say they want. But, Obama is coming to the political realization that in order to really achieve that goal, the American oil and gas sector (yes, fossil fuels) must be free to explore and produce energy. Despite being heavily subsidized, renewable energy will only account for 9% of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Obama took credit for the $750 average savings from lower gas prices American households are poised to enjoy this year. Unfortunately, Obama will be delivering a proposed tax increase to oil and gas companies when a simple “thank you” would be most appropriate.