Monday, August 04, 2008

Obama's Energy Problem

His recent move to the center on offshore drilling is going to be painted as a flip flop. Additionally the fact that he continues to push for a windfall profits tax on oil companies is pure populism. As for tapping into the strategic reserve it is a bad idea in my opinion. While I, myself, was against offshore drilling a few years ago I believe at this point that moving closer to energy independence is extremely important. As long as the states can decide where drilling can occur off their shores I'll back that.

The windfall profits tax, however, is unfair and not at all business friendly. A more sensible approach would be to cut all subsidies to the oil companies and lease oil and gas rights on public lands (as well as mineral rights) and offshore at fair market value. That at least would be fair. I see no reason to give hand outs to companies that are breaking quarterly profit records repeatedly. As for the strategic reserve rename it the Emergency Military Petroleum Reserve and then leave it alone.

If Obama seriously wants to win he is going to have to differentiate his policies from McCain's and it is far better to have McCain co-opting Obama's policies on energy than it is to have Obama playing catch up to McCain. After all, this is ultimately a race about change vs experience. If Obama can prove that he has quality ideas that seem pragmatic he'll carry the day. Conversely if he appears to be mainly reciting Dem talking points then the election is his to lose.