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Obama Highlights Energy Differences

August 4, 2008

For quite some time, the nation has been centered in a no man’s land of similar policy in the election, especially where public statements have been concerned. Candidates have done little to distinguish themselves part from personality and character, aside from a few pet issues. Now, the surge to draw distinctive lines of separate policy between parties and candidates is on the move. The conventions are coming and in true fashion, the majority presidential candidates are jumping to make themselves distinctive and are finally beginning to lay down “the law” of party politics. The boxing gloves appear to be on, started by the rumpus with Nancy Pelosi in the Congress last week. A take no prisoners attitude seems to be in process as partisan traction takes hold.

For example, true to Democratic party politics and current green philosophy, Barack Obama isn’t necessarily reflecting political change on the politics of oil where the Democratic party is concerned. He is calling for a windfall profits tax, while claiming that John McCain is in the pockets of Big Oil. There is little question that on the topic of energy, Barack Obama does inhabit change over current policy. Interestingly, a windfall profits tax does little beyond making government richer, ostensibly for the purpose of promoting green behavior. Environmental proponents are likely having a good time with that.

Obama has voiced his willingness to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling as part of a grand strategy to lower energy costs. He wants to provide relief to Americans without continuing to foster the national oil addiction. His stance is that we live in a democracy and that he is willing to listen. How long he will hold that agreement after the election is anyone’s guess. At the moment, he appears to be taking a tougher stance toward change in energy than his majority opponent, John McCain.

Just before Congress closed its current session, Republican partisans declared the need for an extended session to deal with the national oil crisis. Apparently, the Democrats including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, decided that this was last minute grandstanding and shut down the measure. The real truth is probably much trickier politically.

Like a wide swath of politicians, specialists and writers like myself, Barack Obama has spoke out for tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Obama has projected $150 billion over the next decade as well as leveraging billions more in private capital to build a new energy economy. The private capital could be considered as the windfall profits, but he doesn’t say. Considering the trillions that involve the American economy over a year, that probably isn’t much for a decade. He also claims 5 million American jobs related to the new energy economy. That number is pretty small as well, which are likely conservative figures. What the figures are based on is anyone’s guess.

He is a shorter-term goal setter announcing his desire to build fuel-efficient cars and have one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on the roads within six years. He wants to require that 10 percent of the nation’s energy comes from renewable sources by the end of his first term, as he thinks about his second term strategy. He wants to limit American business, government and citizens to meet the goal of reducing electricity demand by 15 percent within the next decade. These goals are more aggressive than the goals that he has previously published and how these will mandated is still uncharted territory.

Barack Obama is a man with a plan and seems likely to throw some more new ideas our way to stir the political pot. If John McCain wants his equal time, he needs to get on the energy platform and state his goals or create a new controversy. The real issue is what John McCain can do to champion the Democrats. Tomorrow is another day. ~ E.Manning

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