No fair up-or-down votes on lifting Congressional bans on domestic oil drilling!
While the American people suffer from record-high gas prices, that is the message -- loud and clear -- from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her liberal colleagues!
In fact, Pelosi and Company are so dead set against alleviating the pain Americans are feeling at the pump that she hurriedly banged down the gavel, adjourned Congress and FLED from Washington for a five-week vacation.
And, when a group of conservative legislators tried to speak directly to the American people about the need for Congress to address our nation's energy crisis before skipping town, Pelosi ACTUALLY turned off the microphones, shut off the cameras and turned out the lights!
Right now, many Americans can't afford to go on vacation because of the high price of gasoline. But that didn't stop Nancy Pelosi from taking her five-week summer recess.
In defense of her egregious actions, all she could do several days ago was rant:
"I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet. I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuses for their failed policy."
"Trying to save the planet?" How many people will have to suffer before she declares the world safe?
And moreover, what "failed policy" is Pelosi talking about? President Bush and conservative legislators are calling for the REVERSAL of a 30-year policy of limiting domestic drilling. They are trying to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil by responsibly increasing our domestic supply.
How can a policy that hasn't been implemented in 30 years be a "failed policy?" Is Pelosi that out of touch with the 70% of the American people who support more domestic drilling?
Well guess what? Pelosi and her minions might be able to run but they can't hide (Members of Congress have fax machines in their district offices too).
And we're not going to let Pelosi get away with her callous obstruction while Americans are suffering, in large part, because Pelosi objects to any and all new domestic drilling!
Despite what Nancy Pelosi may think, this is not the former-Soviet Union! Nancy Pelosi cannot single-handedly repress free speech and callously disregard the will of the American people.
She needs to be put in her place and told this is not the way things work in the United States of America!
President Bush has the power to call Congress back into session and Congressional leader have that power as well!
And together, we're going to MAKE SURE IT HAPPENS -- RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW! We're going to demand that Pelosi's Politburo be brought back into town -- kicking and screaming if necessary -- for one purpose and one purpose alone; a fair up-or-down vote on lifting Congressional bans on domestic drilling!
Here's the Play-By-Play Question: Why would Pelosi shut down the microphones, chase away the C-SPAN camera crews and turn off the lights while Members of Congress were still speaking on the floor?
Answer: Simply put, Pelosi and her liberal colleagues do not want you and your fellow Americans to hear the other side of the debate. She blatantly was suppressing the speech of opposing points of view?
John Gizzi with Human Events gives us some of the sad and sordid details:
"Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempted repeatedly to shut down lawmakers from making the five-minute speeches that traditionally mark the closing of a House session. Angry conservatives on the Republican side rebelled, turned on microphones that the speaker had shut off, and kept the House press gallery in operation as more and more reporters came by to see what on earth was happening...."
"This was war, all right. And as Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona, one of the leaders of the Republican revolt told me, 'The speaker wouldn't let us have the five-minute speeches because she didn't want the day dominated on the floor by speeches pointing out she has not allowed a vote on a single measure to permit greater oil exploration for the past two months. This is our answer to the Orange Revolution and our modern day Boston tea party.'"
Gizzi continues: "'Word spread that the speaker -- who was never actually here on the floor -- was going to shut down the House press gallery,' a breathless Shadegg told me in a call from the floor, 'But rules are clear that the gallery can't be shut down if a Member is there. So a bunch of us have been taking turns -- we're 'human shields,' keeping the press gallery going.' Along with Shadegg, the 'human shields' included House GOP Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), and Texas Reps. Ted Poe and John Carter.
"'You cannot repress free speech, Madame Speaker,' declared Shadegg, adding that the intense protest to keep the floor and press gallery alive were critical because 'every day without oil production, the American people are hurt. It destroys the lives of the poorest Americans, those with the oldest cars, the worst mileage, and sometimes the longest commutes. That's the point we are making.'"
This point bears repeating: Traditionally when Congress adjourns, Members are allowed to make five-minute speeches before going home. But Pelosi DIDN'T WANT THEM TO SPEAK! So she shut down the microphones and turned off the lights -- even though she had no clear right to do it.
Nancy Pelosi is out of control! Her blind allegiance to a Socialist philosophy has warped her judgment!
We need to send Nancy Pelosi a message and let her know exactly WHO IS IN CHARGE -- THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!
National Watermelon Month... The Lunatics Appear to Have Taken Over The Asylum!
Just to put some perspective on just how out of touch Pelosi and Company are, consider the following statement from Tony Perkins with Family Research Council:
"Of the 290 laws passed this Congress (which comes dangerously close to the lowest number ever), 30 percent of them just name post offices. Congress also took the time to recognize July as 'National Watermelon Month' and officially classify dirt as a natural resource. It is little wonder that Congress's approval rating is in the single digits -- nine percent -- for the first time ever."
The Pelosi Politburo had the time to declare July "National Watermelon Month." The Pelosi Politburo had the time to classify dirt as a national resource, but didn't have the time or inclination to call a vote on the most pressing issue facing the American people TODAY!
Is THAT how you "save the planet?"
It would appear the lunatics have taken over the asylum! But at least some of our elected officials have gotten the message.
Republican Leaders John Boehner and Roy Blunt put together a memo asking President Bush to call Congress back into session.
The memo reads in part: "It's not a request we make lightly. But the American people are suffering. The consequences of continued congressional inaction on gas prices are unacceptable. We've called on the Speaker to call Congress back into an emergency session this month and schedule a vote on the American Energy Act. We must continue to make a stand until the Speaker complies."
And some are answering the call. According to ABC News: "House Republicans tell ABC News that at least 30 members of Congress... are flying back to DC from their Districts today and tomorrow to attend a special debate on energy policy. This 'session' is scheduled for Monday, August 4th beginning at 10 am ET. As expected, no Democrats will participate."
And where does President Bush stand?
John Gizzi recounting a conversation with Congressman Mike Pence:
"'I spoke with a key aide and made it clear he should urge the President to call Congress back and deal with the energy crisis.' Pence would not say who the aide was, but noted that the response to his admonition was 'very positive.'"
Congressman Wally Herger told Gizzi: "'We're doing everything we can to get President Bush to bring Congress back. As to the White House's attitude on making this rare-but-constitutional step, Herger said, I'd say that right now, it's rising on his [Bush's] agenda.'"
And if you're asking; 'when will President Bush act,' the answer should be obvious.
He's waiting to hear from you.
Dare We Say Socialism? We're actually at a pivotal moment in our nation's history, and we're playing a very sick game of "chicken."
Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi is the leader of a group of legislators who are pushing a far-Left -- dare we say Socialist -- agenda that has infected the Democratic Party!
And she's staring down the American people... standing her ground... hoping you and I will flinch first!
Look no further than this recent statement on the floor of the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Maxine Waters to the President of Shell Oil: "This liberal will be all about SOCIAL____ (abrupt pause) uhhhh... uhhh... (pause) will be about... (pause) basically taking over and the government running all your companies."
Or how about this statement by Congressman Maurice Hinchey: "Maybe they'd be willing to have these companies owned publicly... owned by the people of the United States."
Waters and Hinchey aren't even attempting to obscure the fact that they want to nationalize our industries -- THAT'S SOCIALISM!
And what about Pelosi?
She KNOWS that if she can get away with single-handedly obstructing a vote on the one thing that can relieve the suffering of Americans without being run out of town on a rail -- namely lifting prohibitions on domestic drilling -- she can probably get away with anything!
"All That Is Necessary For Evil To Triumph Is For Good Men To Do Nothing." - Edmund Burke
Some of our elected leaders are not about to let Pelosi get away with it!
Congressman Shadegg sent an e-mail out which read in part: "We're not giving up... Over 70% of Americans favor increased domestic drilling. Republicans believe that a viewpoint held by a majority of the public deserves, at the very least, a vote on the floor of the people's house. Congressional Democrats have repeatedly admitted, by requesting that President Bush open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, that an increase in supply will decrease prices. Yet, over the past several months, they have barred from the floor any legislation seeking to increase domestic supply--and now, they've gone on vacation. This isn't just about gas prices; this is about our economic and national security. ..."
"My colleagues and I are committed to an energy policy that increases the domestic supply of fossil fuels to power the American economy of today, and aggressively pursues a variety of alternatives, including solar, nuclear, wind, and hydropower, to drive the American economy of tomorrow. We can, and we must, lower energy prices, create American jobs, and cease our funding of Hugo Chavez and other unfriendly governments. Speaker Pelosi may believe that Americans can wait until September for relief, but if you ask the average family of four, living paycheck to paycheck, relief can't come soon enough."
Shadegg is RIGHT!
This battle is about more than gasoline prices, and yes, even the suffering of Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck!
History may remember this fight over domestic drilling in a greater context... as a pivotal battle in our fight to maintain "our economic and national security" -- indeed our sovereignty as a nation!
And while we can applaud legislators like Shadegg and Blunt and Boehner and Pence for taking the fight to Pelosi; their actions will not make the difference!
The actions of the American people will determine the final outcome!
If good men and women do nothing, Pelosi will succeed!
Together, we must take action right here and right now!
Fax messages to President George W. Bush and each and every Member of the Leadership of the House and Senate! Tell them in no uncertain terms that the American people want them back in Washington DC and that there WILL BE NO VACATION for them until they hold a fair up-or-down vote on lifting Congressional prohibitions on domestic drilling!
President Bush has the power to call them back into town! They have the power to call themselves back into town! Tell our elected officials that they serve the American people and we REFUSE to wait until September just so they can come back to Washington and continue stalling this vote! Tell them their employers want them back at work and we want them back now!
Below is a sample fax that you are welcome to copy & paste or start with and add to. You can have it automatically faxed to your President Bush, your congressman and senators for FREE by going to http://capwiz.com/atr/home/ and entering your zip code, then clicking "Compose Your Own Letter". It automatically sends it to the correct people based upon your zip code -- nothing could be easier:
The American people are not stupid or easily deceived. Repeated attempts by liberals in Congress to force President Bush to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are essentially an admission that we can only solve our energy problems in the short term by increasing the domestic supply as soon as humanly possible. Recent polls show that 70 percent of Americans (Democrats, Republicans and Independents) agree that Congress must permit more domestic drilling; and yet, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, has repeatedly refused to permit votes on measures that will increase the domestic supply to come to the floor, knowing that legislation on such measures would likely pass!
The American people are suffering, and yet Speaker Pelosi continues to obstruct. Her actions in this regard are ethically bankrupt and morally criminal. However, the straw that broke the camel's back was the decision to adjourn Congress for a five-week vacation without resolving this matter.
Republican leaders Roy Blunt and John Boehner wrote a memo to President Bush which read in part: "It's not a request we make lightly. But the American people are suffering. The consequences of continued congressional inaction on gas prices are unacceptable. We've called on the Speaker to call Congress back into an emergency session this month and schedule a vote on the American Energy Act. We must continue to make a stand until the Speaker complies."
The American people elected you. The American people are your employers. Your employers demand that you report back to work immediately and hold a fair-up-or-down vote on lifting legislative prohibitions on domestic drilling -- PERIOD! Anything less is unacceptable. Furthermore, delay is also unacceptable; if Congress fails to reconvene of its own accord then I demand President Bush exercise his authority and force the matter.
Oil Company Profits and Tax Collections: Does the U.S. Need a New Windfall Profits Tax? by Jonathan Williams and Scott A. Hodge
Fiscal Fact No. 41
This week, the Senate will hold hearings on rising oil and fuel prices and the subsequent record earnings recently posted by U.S. oil companies. Some lawmakers have suggested that these profits are unseemly and, thus, should be subject to a new “windfall profits” tax.
Before rushing to create a new federal tax, lawmakers should ask two questions:
(1) Do oil companies currently pay too little in taxes compared to profits? (2) What was the effect of the last windfall profits tax enacted in 1980?
The answer to the first question is that over the past 25 years, oil companies directly paid or remitted more than $2.2 trillion in taxes, after adjusting for inflation, to federal and state governments—including excise taxes, royalty payments and state and federal corporate income taxes. That amounts to more than three times what they earned in profits during the same period, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Department of Energy.
These figures do not include local property taxes, state sales and severance taxes and on-shore royalty payments.
The answer to the second question, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), is that the 1980s windfall profits tax depressed the domestic production and extraction industry and furthered our dependence on foreign sources of oil.1
Figure 1. Oil Industry Taxes Have Outpaced Oil Industry Profits Since 1977. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Figure 1 illustrates the magnitude of government tax collections versus industry profits between 1977 and 2004. During this period, the 29 largest domestic energy firms earned a collective $630 billion after adjusting for inflation. These profits varied dramatically—from a low of $7.9 billion in 1995 to a high of $42.6 billion in 2004—based upon world market demand, supply, and international events.
In contrast, the taxes paid or remitted by domestic oil companies have been consistently far greater than their profits and now total more than $2.2 trillion (adjusted for inflation) over the past quarter century. The largest share of those taxes is federal and state gasoline excise taxes. In 2004, governments collected $58 billion in gasoline excise taxes. Overall, governments have collected $1.34 trillion in gasoline excise taxes since 1977.
Today, U.S. consumers pay an average of 45.9 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes. The federal gasoline excise tax is 18.4 cents per gallon while the average state and local tax is 27.5 cents. The vast majority of these taxes are levied at a flat rate per gallon—regardless of whether a gallon of gas costs $1.49, $2.49, or $3.49. Thus, the effective rate of these taxes can vary wildly, from roughly 31 percent in the former case to 13 percent in the later.
Federal and state governments also collect a substantial amount of excise tax from the sale of diesel fuel. In today’s dollars, governments have collected $160 billion in diesel fuel excise taxes since 1977.
Oil companies also pay taxes to governments for the right to extract oil from public lands and waters. For example, the federal government has collected a total of $48.8 billion in royalty payments from oil companies in exchange for their ability to explore and drill in the U.S. outer continental shelf. Oil companies also pay severance taxes to state governments for the right to drill on state lands. Unfortunately, complete data on state severance tax collections for the period is not available at this time.
In contrast to excise taxes, corporate income tax payments vary as widely as industry profits. As mentioned above, domestic energy companies earned a total of $630 billion in post-tax profits between 1977 and 2004. Tax Foundation economists estimate that companies paid $518 billion in corporate income taxes to federal and state governments during the same period. These payments varied from a low of $5.1 billion in 1995 to a high of $40.4 billion in 1981.
The 1980 Windfall Profits Tax As is also illustrated by Figure 1, during the 1980s the federal government experimented with a new tax intended to limit the “windfall profits” of domestic oil companies. In reaction to the rise of energy prices during the late 1970s and the removal of price controls on the energy industry, President Jimmy Carter signed the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act into effect on April 2, 1980.
The tax was technically misnamed because it was in fact an excise tax, not a “profits” tax. The tax was imposed on the difference between the market price of oil and a government-determined base price. For example, a 70 percent tax was levied on the difference between the market price received by oil companies and the average base price of $12.81 per barrel. Independent producers, stripper wells and heavy oils were taxed at different rates.
As shown in Figure 2, the windfall profits tax was forecasted to raise more than $320 billion between 1980 and 1989. However, according to the CRS, the government collected only $80 billion in gross tax revenue ($146 billion in 2004 dollars). The net amount was actually less than this—roughly $40 billion—because the tax was deductible against corporate income.
Figure 2. Tax Revenues from the 1980 Windfall Profits Tax Were Dramatically Less Than Projections. Source: Congressional Research Service.
CRS also found the windfall profits tax had the effect of decreasing domestic production by 3 percent to 6 percent, thereby increasing American dependence on foreign oil sources by 8 percent to 16 percent. A side effect was declining, not increasing, tax collections. Figure 1 clearly shows that while the tax raised considerable revenue in the initial years following its enactment, those revenues declined to almost nothing as the domestic industry collapsed.
The 1980 windfall profits tax was also found to be highly burdensome for the industry to comply with and for the Internal Revenue Service to administer, especially in years when no revenue was raised. It seems unlikely that a new tax could be designed in a less burdensome fashion. Tax Foundation economists estimate that U.S. companies currently spend nearly $150 billion annually to comply with the federal income tax alone. Enacting a new windfall profits tax would add an additional layer of complexity to the federal tax system.
The past year has clearly been a good year for oil companies. However, these large profits should be viewed in proper perspective, given the staggering amount of tax the industry currently pays and remits to governments at the federal, state, and local levels. As the experience of the past quarter-century has shown, governments have actually “profited” more from the oil industry than the industry has earned for its shareholders.
1. Salvatore Lazzari, “The Windfall Profit Tax On Crude Oil: Overview of the Issues,” CRS Report for Congress, Congressional Research Service (September 12, 1990), p. 3.
(Note: the above was in November 9, 2005 -- Congress didn't learn from their mistakes then and is now about to go right back and make the same mistake all over again)