Saturday, August 2, 2008

On Why You Cannot Blame the Democrats for Congress

The current GOP Senate minority has set an all-time record: using the filibuster more often than at any time in history. On more than 80 different occasions, they have blocked progress on ending the war, stymied efforts to rebuild our economy, impeded forward movement on health care, or stood in the way on a whole host of other issues.

Even so, Congress took action this week to protect the health of children, strengthening rules for the Consumer Product Safety Commission concerning toy safety and restricting marketplace practices used by the tobacco industry to target children.

Now I won't say I'm the biggest fan of Congress, but you cannot blame the Democrats for everything that has happened in Congress the past two years. Now, if they get a filibuster-proof majority come November, then you can blame the Democrats for what happens in Congress...


coreydbarbarian said...

for the longest time, it seemed like ted coburn was gonna stymy everything the dems tried to pass. after monday, the rest of the gop decided to get in on the act, pretending that it was all about the right to debate offshore drilling this whole friggin' time.


coreydbarbarian said...

oops. that should have been tom coburn, not ted. ted coburn was just some guy i wrestled against in high school - freudian slip or something.

incidently, this link is different from the one above.

Anony Mouse said...

This is nothing more than the same ol partisan garbage. “Its their fault no its their fault!” The GOP hasn’t done anything the DNC hasn’t done when they were the minority in power. The GOP blames the DNC when they are in power for not getting anything done and the DNC blames the GOP for not getting anything done when they were in power. We should expect more. I remember Pelosi with her big talk of reaching out to the GOP when the DNC came to power but her actions have done nothing but continue to show disdain and to invite greater partisanship.
Americans have spoken loudly that they want to drill in America to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But Pelosi refuses to allow a vote on energy measures supported by the GOP and centrist Democrats. Instead, she whips out the Rove issue well over 4 years old. They should have dealt with rove long ago and dealt with energy now. The last thing we need is one party who cannot be checked by the other. But, Nobama is beginning to waffle on the off shore drilling, expectedly.

Bawdyscot has the right idea. Thanks for the Cost Rica feedback Bawdyscot. I don’t always trust a travel agents opinion.

coreydbarbarian said...

whatever lets you sleep at night, m'dear mouse.

just curious, though: do you actually believe more drilling will alleviate anything?

Ceroill said...

Here's a couple of cents or so from my head.

1- I've been rather amused over the years as folk here in the US have griped about gas prices. Only now are we even vaguely approaching what most of the rest of the world has to pay for it.

2- It's not like the auto makers haven't (or couldn't have) seen this coming for I have little sympathy for them having to 'suddenly' shift gears to make smaller efficient cars again.

3- It's my understanding, flawed though it may be (correct me if I'm wrong), that we import more oil from Canada than from any of the OPEC countries.

4- More offshore drilling? From what I've heard there's 2 big problems: One is that it will be years before anything actually comes out of it, and second is that the amount will be only marginal compared to our current level of 'need'. If we continue as we have been, then by the time any oil comes out of the new platforms its effect will be truly trivial.

Again, I may be mistaken.

Anony Mouse said...

Canada is #1 with the Saudis a close second, Mexico 3rd & Venezuela 4th. We can’t continue to import 72% of our oil and why should we?

Congress passed a very promising bill to allow drilling in Alaska over 10 years ago. Clinton killed it with a veto so now we see the pain at the pump. The point being this issue has been addressed in the past but politics dominated the moment.
Off shore drilling will happen and will happen soon. Nobama is close to changing his position just as many in the DNC are also doing. Pelosi cannot continue to delay the inevitable without political harm. Let capitalism solve the problems as it does the job much better than the Feds. Bush’s action has already had a positive effect at the pump.
Off Shore drilling reduces our dependence on foreign countries
Provides jobs
Provides a great habitat for marine life
Has the potential to provide oil in as little as two years.
The fact we begin exploring will bring down the bidding amounts on the open market.

This along with R&D in alternative energies is a great plan for the future. Check out the socialist government of Spain. That is a path we need to avoid.

coreydbarbarian said...

boy, the republicans sure seem to believe they've found their issue.
drill here, drill now, drill, drill, drill!! never mind that it's a drop in the bucket, providing only psychological relief.

and if mouse really believes that bush's actions did ANYTHING to change oil prices, he has my pity.
oil prices have dropped because demand has dropped and supply has increased. simple economics, mousey.

am i the only one who noticed that america drove 10 billion miles less in july '08 as they did in july '07? or that the oil surplus in america has been rising for the past few weeks - both facts coinciding with the drop in oil prices?

yet mouse, and every other republican, thinks more drilling will make prices drop (and somehow magically provide "great" habitat for marine life, to boot). what's wrong, exactly, with the 68 million acres of offshore land that the oil companies already have rights to?

“So to sum up, under Senator McCain’s plan, the oil companies get billions more, we don’t pay any less at the pump, and we stay in the same cycle of dependence on oil that got us into this crisis.” ~ barack obama

Cumudgeon said...

Anony Mouse Barrack has already backed off his no drilling stategy. See here

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”

The only holdout is a congress who has gone on vacation while many Americans sacrificed their own. Many believe the shale in the Rockies has more oil than the Saudis. That should be looked into as well.

coreydbarbarian said...

proving once again that barrack obama is pragmatic, not rigidly ideological. if the republicans could put together a package that increased mpg standards and put some serious effort into alternative energies, and real protection for the environment, we'd have some progress. but, so far, all they want is "more drilling, more drilling."

also, out of curiosity, where are you gonna get the water to convert shale to oil? the rockies are already prone to shortages...


Just some thoughts to add to this primordial stew...

Everyone is talking about more drilling, but gasoline and diesel prices won't go down to any great degree until we build more refining capacity. The refineries now in service are old, use more energy than is needed and aren't necessarily where we need them. The main reason we haven't built more capacity are the overbearing environmental laws. Technology has come a long way from the '70's and you have to believe current refining technology would make cleaner(i.e. more environmentally friendly)refining just like the more environmentally friendly drilling techniques we utilize today(which even Obama has realized). Until this part of the package is addressed we will only solve part of the problem.

Next, how is this current backtracking by Obama on drilling in Alaska going to play to the people in his pack who are embracing Gore's latest platform of going carbonless in ten years? I realize oil isn't used for producing electricity to any great amount, but natural gas is. I would have to think staunch environmentalists must be blanching over this. This isn't going to make these people change skin and vote for McCain, but they have to be having second thoughts about exactly what an Obama Presidency would look like.

High oil prices and as a result high gasoline prices are moving this society towards other energy generation strategies faster and more efficiently than any government program. Entreprenurial thinking tied to free markets brings more satisfaction to consumers than any government program the little heads in Washington can squeeze out. I have posted before, it is not the business of our federal government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace. I am not talking of regulation(which in moderation is a legitimate realm of government)I am talking of picking wind over solar or geothermal or solar thermal and on and on. When people are spending their own money they tend to wise up, prioritize and look for innovation which the entrepreneur is better suited to provide.

Which leads me to the interesting part of this dichotomy, high energy prices forcing society to change against the public's perception they have a right to cheap energy. Add in the environmental aspects, the inflation of food prices because of energy strategies and the divisiveness of our current electorate and you have a crapshoot. But as any of you who have been subjected to my rantings before know, I believe life is a crapshoot. C'mon seven, c'mon seven, love me one more time!

coreydbarbarian said...

luck be a lady tonight...

thanks for getting 'guys & dolls' stuck in my head, bawdy! ; )

did y'all see paris hilton's new ad? seems like she's already solved the energy crisis.

while i'm at it, i saw this while i was there...

back to the crapshoot.

you make some excellent points, bawdy. i'm all for additional refining capacity, as part of a larger, comprehensive energy strategy.

that leads me to your next question: how will environmentalists view obama's pragmatic stance on drilling?

i hope they will see it as one component in a larger, comprehensive energy strategy. that, and maybe they'll equate natural gas with heat in the winter, aka my furnace.

your 3rd paragraph is agreeable, just so long as we don't allow capitalism to run hog wild with no restraints (kinda like the way big oil is). personally, i hate the fact that the north pole can melt off entirely, and nobody would blink, but gas prices double and suddenly energy is on the table.
capitalism and free markets are great, but they must be tethered with a sense of morality, and that can't be left to personal ethics. that's where gov't regulation comes into play. you (bawdy) don't seem to disagree, but i wanted to clarify that point for all.

Anony Mouse said...

Curmugeon it was just a matter of time before the flip or the flop exited the Obama camp once again. I have never seen a candidate change positions and distant himself from many individuals in my lifetime. I have no problem with a flip-flop if it is done for good reason (not to become president). Hopefully he saw the error of his ways once again.

Bawdyscot low oil prices are definitely not a right we have privy to but at the same time our government has been cowering to the extreme environmentalist for years not allowing drilling, refining or even nuclear power for thirty years. The plans on the table in congress cover drilling, wind, solar, clean coal, nuclear options among other technologies. Pelosi will not allow a vote since drilling is in the package. So much for working with the other party. I’m all for protecting the environment but it is time to hit some of the real world problems in that arena namely India and China. May I add that since the Feds make more money on a gallon of gas than the big bad oil companies ( ½ their profits go to taxes) we should start by ripping these guys a new one.

coreydbarbarian said...

this one's for mousey.

Anony Mouse said...

This seems to be good advise for CoreyB I hope it helps my boy.


"your 3rd paragraph is agreeable, just so long as we don't allow capitalism to run hog wild with no restraints (kinda like the way big oil is)."

To me this is a chicken or the egg situation. Who is more of a culprit, the big oil companies or big federal government. The oil companies may have lobbied in the '90's for tax breaks for oil exploration when oil was selling for $15 a barrel, but the feds didn't have to go along and if I were Congress we wouldn't have. I don't believe in ANY corporate welfare, not for farmers, not for auto manufacturers and not for oil companies. Lobbyists may be needed to get pertinent information to legislators and other government leaders, but that should be the extent to their activities. Money shouldn't change hands either way and the press should make this relationship as transparent as possible.

One more point, most here know my thoughts on what I believe the federal government is Consitutionally mandated to do; and as I stated, reasonable regulation is part of this, but the feds can't even get this right. Recent examples include the Federal Reserve's part in the mortgage debacle and the FAA's lovemaking with Southwest Airlines. What always gets me is if the feds can't get this stuff right, why would we want to give them more responsibility over our lives.

Lastly, along with Washington's love affair with "Wars" with unconventional enemies(Poverty, Drugs and Terror are three examples), does anyone else think the word crisis gets overused? It is to the point the word has lost it's edgy meaning.

coreydbarbarian said...

thanks, mousey! that was cute!
do ya mind if i "borrow" that website for a second?

keeping with that spirit..
here's one for bawdy.

and here's one for csm.

and this one is for...well, for anyone who's ever played any of the super mario brothers games.

(sorry bob, i was "shopping" with you in mind there at the end, but i just don't know if you played mario or not... ;)


Thanks corey for the day(night)brightener. Guinness, brilliant!!! Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Doh! Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Curmudgeon said...

Ha Ha Ha, good one anony mouse. Guinness can't hold a candle to Coors, C'mon!


I was weened on Coors and for a light domestic beer it is one I can still stomach(I charge $16 an hour to drink Bud), but holding a candle to Guinness? Comments like these will make me wonder about anything else you spout, curm. Sorry.

Ceroill said...

Corey, no, I never got into the Mario games, but thanks anyway.

As to beers, I'm afraid I couldn't care less. Personally I can't stand the taste of beer. When I was a teen my dad let me try a sip of his beer, and I thought it was awful. He told me it was an acquired taste, to which I replied, "Why would you want to acquire it?" Believe it or not, he actually had a good answer for me. He'd been through WWII, and in the army you had two safe things to drink: beer and coffee. Safe that is, as opposed to the local water supply (He was stationed in the Pacific, mostly in New Guinea).

Well, needless to say (but I'll say it anyhow) I decided that since I had other more enjoyable beverage options, I would not work to develop a taste for beer. Or coffee.

But that's just me. Go ahead and enjoy your lagers and ales, pal.


I had the exact same reaction as a child to cigarettes. Tried them twice and could not understand how anyone could do this. For that I am thankful to this day.

Ceroill said...

Bawdy, I never even did that much. Sometimes I tell people I have this strange aversion to purposefully inhaling burnt particles into my lungs. My dad smoked until shortly before I was born, apparently. He got the message when the doc told him he'd lost a good chunk of function in one of his lungs. Both grandfathers smoked as I recall.

G said...

Sorry for withholding my 2 cents until now, but a few thoughts:

- I don't blame the Dems in congress for everything. But they ARE primarily responsible for the things that HAVE been passed. When it comes to the institution of new laws, I'm one of those who actually likes gridlock. A large part of our current problems can be directly attributed to TOO MUCH regulation.

As one example, the length of time between opening the OCS and/or ANWR to drilling and any potential supply increase is so long BECAUSE of excessive regulation... and then the inevitable lawsuits by environmental groups.

- From Ceroill's comments, I agree with you about auto makers. The US auto makers are reaping what they've sown for years. I have no sympathy for them.

As for the additional supply provided by more drilling, opening the OCS/ANWR would only allow the leases at first. Whoever gets the lease would then explore to see what can be extracted. If it isn't significant, then they won't go through the time and trouble to drill. And the amount of time it will take to produce oil shouldn't keep us from pursuing it. To me, it means we should get going ASAP. If we don't do it and end up with $8/gal gasoline in 5 years, then people will be making the same "no immediate relief" arguments. Congress needs to be forward-thinking... not just looking for instant gratification at election time.

- Bawdy, I agree with you for the most part. However, I don't consider a tax break to be "corporate welfare." I'm usually in favor of tax breaks. Businesses and individuals are already over-taxed as it is.

- coreyd, Just a couple weeks ago, everyone was blaming the oil speculators. Speculators tend to react strongly to small political & market moves. If they were truly responsible for the high price, then removing the presidential ban on drilling most certainly caused them to react, quickly dropping the price. But I agree with you that it is predominantly an issue of supply/demand. Therefore, increasing the supply (i.e. drilling) will help to reduce the price (or at least slow down the increase) and reduce our dependence on foreign producers.

My problem with the Dems on this issue is that they're trying to play both sides... blaming the markets but denying that the market reaction could be attributed to Bush's move, claiming that increased drilling won't help, but providing exactly zero concrete solutions for either the near or long term. Research into alternatives is a great idea, but it holds even less certainty about future benefit than does drilling.

And I'm sorry, but Obama isn't being pragmatic. He's pandering. He has reversed his position on drilling and the strategic reserve that he held so firmly only a month ago... when prices were actually higher than they are now. What he really saw was sliding poll numbers over the issue, so he backtracked.

But really, he can say whatever he needs to about drilling to help him get elected. Nancy Pelosi has his back. Obama tells people what they want to hear, but Pelosi won't allow a vote anyway. In fact, she wouldn't even allow DEBATE on the issue. So where exactly is a "comprehensive energy package" supposed to come from if ONE person in charge won't even allow debate on the subject?

Finally, am I the only one here who is sickened by Obama's plan to hit the oil companies with a "windfall profits tax" in order to fund a $1,000 payment to consumers? Aside from the sheer idiocy of the plan (hitting them with extra taxes = higher operating costs = increased prices at the pump), is this not a thinly veiled plan to buy your votes? It makes me want to puke.

Anony Mouse said...

You are not alone G. Obama likes to blame BIG OIL for our high gas prices. His 1K plan is unconstitutional and just another one of his socialist manevers to become the new Robin Hood. This is the first time in my many years that my vote will be against a candidate rather than for a candidate. I think he is that dangerous.

Anony Mouse said...

4% of what you pay at the pump is profit for the oil companies.
15% of what you pay at the pump goes to the government for taxes.

Why hasn't any democrat proposed dropping the 15% to help the people instead of rasing taxes?

Profits by Industry:

Oil companies 8-9%
Bank of America 12.5%
Microsoft 29%
Coca Cola 21%
Cisco 22%
Intel 18%
Pfizer 16%

When will the blind squirrel find an acorn?

coreydbarbarian said...

anyone else notice that 6 out of 7 of mouse's examples of "profit by industry" are actually individual businesses and not industries?


" Bawdy, I agree with you for the most part. However, I don't consider a tax break to be "corporate welfare." I'm usually in favor of tax breaks. Businesses and individuals are already over-taxed as it is."

You are correct, g, businesses are over-taxed to the tune of 40%; much higher than just about any European country's corporate tax rate. I would like to see the corporate tax rate more in the 25% range. That being said, I was talking about targeted tax breaks, tax breaks which are enacted to change corporate behavior, to guide them in their investments and such. In this case it was to spur exploration. I just don't think it is in the federal governments mandate to point perfectly able corporations in the direction the government wishes they go. Most corporations of this magnitude know their markets, their capabilities and their competition to the degree they do not need any help from the government who in many cases has motivations very different than said corporation.


Anony's point does not lose anything just because of your literal interpretation of his heading. The percentage of net profits as compared with total revenue show the oil campanies as a class make less money per revenue dollar than any of the corporations he listed. This can be further amplified by looking at the Price/Earnings ratio of the oil sector as compared to the Technology sector, Pharmiceutical sector and many times by the Financial sector(though maybe not right now with the mortgage debacle). Add to this the environment from which they must extract that revenue dollar, nationalistic governments(who own most of the world's oil), deep sea drilling(this takes a tremendous amount of know-how)in harsh aquatic environments, fast changing commodity markets which they have little control over and governments who would love to tax the shit out of them, and you have a harsh operating environment.

But still, they should not get any special tax breaks; that would be corporate welfare.

coreydbarbarian said...

businesses are overtaxed?

when i read this, i got the feeling 2/3rd's of 'em aren't taxed at all...



First off, I am wondering if you only read the first sentence of the link you posted. The rest of the article, except for the political speech of the legislators quoted, mitigates the thesis of the first sentence. For example, if 25% of large corps aren't paying taxes I would assume that means 75% ARE paying taxes.

Also because our corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world, is it any wonder companies go to such great lengths to get away from paying them. It is just human nature to avoid unpleasant situations, no?

As an exhibit(though granted not the most visually stimulating)I give you Exxon's last quarterly income statement. Peruse down to the Income Tax Expense. Last quarter Exxon paid over 9 billion in taxes(you need to add three more zeros(all numbers in thousands))and that is just for the last quarter. As a disclaimer I do still own a little Exxon stock, but it is also in the sights of many of our short-sighted politicians.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) At 10:01AM ET: 77.57 0.59 (0.75%)

Income Statement Get Income Statement for:

View: Annual Data | Quarterly Data All numbers in thousands
PERIOD ENDING 31-Mar-08 31-Dec-07 30-Sep-07 30-Jun-07
Total Revenue 116,854,000 116,642,000 102,337,000 98,350,000
Cost of Revenue 70,206,000 69,391,000 60,206,000 55,658,000

Gross Profit 46,648,000 47,251,000 42,131,000 42,692,000

Operating Expenses
Research Development - - - -
Selling General and Administrative 22,940,000 23,963,000 21,855,000 21,486,000
Non Recurring - - - -
Others 3,104,000 3,155,000 3,159,000 2,994,000

Total Operating Expenses - - - -

Operating Income or Loss 20,604,000 20,133,000 17,117,000 18,212,000

Income from Continuing Operations
Total Other Income/Expenses Net - - - -
Earnings Before Interest And Taxes 20,322,000 19,128,000 17,555,000 18,024,000
Interest Expense 130,000 128,000 73,000 96,000
Income Before Tax 20,192,000 19,000,000 17,482,000 17,928,000
Income Tax Expense 9,302,000 8,062,000 7,350,000 7,668,000
Minority Interest (282,000) (283,000) (284,000) (188,000)

Net Income From Continuing Ops 10,890,000 11,660,000 9,410,000 10,260,000

Net Income 10,890,000 11,660,000 9,410,000 10,260,000
Preferred Stock And Other Adjustments - - - -

Net Income Applicable To Common Shares $10,890,000

coreydbarbarian said...

while i will readily admit i am no expert in economic affairs, you and i are arriving at entirely different interpretations of the article that i linked to.

regarding the exxon #'s, i notice that they pay 19.95% of their gross profit in income taxes.

yes, gross profit is different from income/earnings. using earnings instead of gross profit yields a 46% tax rate. but is earnings truly an honest measure of their "take" this quarter?

it's been almost 20 yrs since i took accounting 101, so be gentle, oh bawdy one. ; )


With Sarbanes-Oxley it better be an honest measure. Otherwise top management and the Board are going to jail.

Gross profits are before expenses so I would imagine even you would think it unfair if you were to be taxed on earnings before you paid the light bill, no?

csm said...

Didn't read the link you provided Corey, but I read an article in today's San Jose Mercury News citing that from 1998 to 2005 two thirds of US corporations paid no income tax... and about 68% of foreign companies doing business in the US avoided corporate taxes over the same period.

No I can go both ways (hey, no jokes please) on taxing corporations. But if the US is going to have a corporate tax it should be such that the burden is equitably shared and not one where the majority of corporations are not participating.

Ceroill said...

Back in the 80's there was a bit of a boom in industrial 'developement' in Tennessee. That is, a bunch of corporations moving here, or opening plants here. This was encouraged by the state giving them huge tax cuts or letting them pay no state taxes at all for several years or more.