Friday, August 08, 2008

High Gas Prices, Republican Policies And The Personal Finances Of Members Of Congress


David Davis: the party's over

As we mentioned earlier, far right extremist David Davis (R-TN) lost his primary bid for a second term yesterday. And he lost it to another far right extremist. So why did TN-01 Republican voters toss out one reactionary for another? The incumbent reactionary got tagged by the reactionary challenger as a shill for Big Oil, which was very appropriate-- because he is. In fact he's one of the silly clowns running around Capitol Hill all week waving air pressure tire gauges over their heads and twittering instead of spending time with their constituents. As Greg Sargent write this afternoon at TPM "Indeed, Davis was so sure that the issue was a political winner for him and the GOP that he issued a triumphant press release Wednesday about his heroic role in the initial "revolt" several days earlier, and even bragged that he'd be returning to Washington to keep pushing the issue. And indeed, according to a Dem leadership aide, Davis was on the floor yesterday pushing the drilling stuff-- on election day."

For the last month DWT has been highlighting the connection with high gas prices and Oil Industry bribes/"donations" to Republicans and Blue Dogs. This is particularly pronounced in terms of the crooks and clowns who are part of the twittering imbeciles with the air pressure gauges, who, collectively, have collected millions of dollars from Big Oil and always carry water for the oil and gas companies, putting in place tax breaks, policy, and legislation that have led directly to the outrageous profits and more outrageous prices at the pump. People like Chris Shays, Michael McCaul, Adam Putnam, Scott Garrett, John Kline and John Shadegg may be elected, respectively, by voters in Connecticut, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Minnesota and Arizona but their first loyalties, at least as far as energy, has always been to the big corporations that fund their careers. John Shadegg has taken $119,495 from Big Oil. He has voted to make sure they get whatever they want-- regardless of what it has cost the consumers in Paradise Valley. When John Kline voted over and over and over to give Big Oil the ability to suck billions of dollars from working families for energy costs do you think he was thinking about what it costs to get from Burnsville, Lakeville or Eagan-- let alone Faribault-- to the Twin Cities? Do you think he considered what it costs to heat homes in Goodhue, Le Suerur, and Scott Counties or was he thinking about the $118,705 Big Oil donors "donated" to him?

This morning Paul Blumenthal, writing for the Sunlight Foundation brought up an aspect of the role of personal finances in these legislative decisions that I hadn't thought about: the ownership of substantial amounts of stock in Big Oil corporations and how votes impact the value of those investments. Paul asks the question, who stands to make the most money, personally, if McCain and a Republican/Blue Dog Congress get to continue the Bush-Cheney energy policies. These are the House members who have the really big investments in Oil companies. Should they be voting on policies that could make themselves even richer?

There are a handful of honest members of Congress on this list who do not vote their own financial interests, but vote for their constituents' interests-- Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), David Price (D-NC), Steve Cohen (D-TN), James Oberstar (D-MN)-- but no one on this list should be voting on energy policies. And many of them-- particularly Robin Hayes (R-NC), Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Virgil Goode (R-VA), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)-- have been less than honest in talking with their voters about energy policy and how and why they vote the way they do, votes that have cost their constituents millions and millions of dollars.

Since Robin Hayes is at the very top of the chart (i.e.- the bottom of the barrel) we reached out to Larry Kissel, his Democratic challenger. Larry's at an orientation at Wake Forest for his daughter's freshman year. But we reached Thomas Thacker a spokesman for the campaign. "If we leave Robin Hayes in office two more years every square inch of this land will be leased to the oil companies. The people he is supposed to represent in the 8th district only have one Congressman and he has failed them miserably while voting the interest of his friends in big oil. He is getting richer every time the price of gas goes up as the common people like Larry Kissell are getting poorer trying to pay high energy costs." 


I asked two other Blue America candidates to comment on the fact that their opponents own significant amounts of stock in oil companies and have been voting for policies that have driven up the price of gasoline and heating fuel. Gary Peters is in a very hard-hit Michigan district, whose congressman, Joe Knollenberg, votes so frequently with Big Oil (like always) that you might get the idea that the whole district was swimming in oil and every one of his constituents was raking in the big bucks from increased gas prices. But they're not; a greater and greater proportion on the income of Oakland County residents is going to gasoline and energy costs. "One of Congressman Knollenberg's and the Bush Administration's biggest failures has been their utter refusal to enact an energy policy that will actually help our economy, and not simply the profits of the Big Oil companies. After eight years of failed leadership, Michigan needs leaders in Washington who will take action to implement a real energy policy, and who will work to protect Michigan jobs instead of oil company tax breaks."

Tom Perriello in south and central Virginia has a similar situation and his opponent, Virgil Goode, is just as sleazy and self-dealing as Knollenberg. "This is just another example of how the corruption in Washington is crushing working families at the pump. The auto industry can make more money buying off politicians than they can building me a more fuel efficient truck. Until we get leaders in Washington who stand up to the special interests, folks who are working hard and playing by the rules will continue to fall further and further behind, and I'm sick and tired of it."

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At 6:05 AM, Blogger Minnesota Central said...

When you consider oil holdings, are you considering mutual funds ?

For example, John Kline has made an investment in ING Russia Fund ? The ING Russia Fund is composed of 47.8% investment in the oil and gas industry. Many people’s investment strategy includes global investments … not a bad strategy considering the weak US dollar. But Russia ? An investment that is tied exclusively to a single country ? The dollar amount of his investment is immaterial, it's the message that he values investments in Russia over US or other countries.

Admittedly, Russia is not officially in the “Axis of Evil” but since Kline likes to remind voters that during the Cold War, he carried the “nuclear football” that contained the President's launch codes used for nuclear attack, it is surprising that it is where he would make a direct investment.

And now with the Russia-Georgia problem, Kline needs to decide if his personal portfolio is more important than American foreign policy.

Read more here.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger bernie said...

I do not understand - if Republicans want more expensive gas, as you allege, then why are they fighting for more drilling here in the states?

And just curious, how does one make gas prices rise by legislation? I know that they rose because of inaction by Democrats, but which law passed by Republicans made gas prices go up?


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