Bush offers more half-finished energy thoughts

Bob Tippee
Editor

An important tool of politics is the half-finished thought.

US President George W. Bush deploys it masterfully when he discusses oil.

Who can forget his state-of-the-union diagnosis that the US is addicted to oil?

That was half a thought. If a nation can be said to be addicted to a commodity because it uses a lot of it, then the US also is addicted to wheat, corn, beef, various metals, and so forth.

The president didn't finish the thought because doing so would have crushed the political point he wanted to make.

He repeated the ploy in his Aug. 21 press conference.

Asked what political price he might be paying because of American impatience with elevated gasoline prices, Bush stammered his way to this: "I understand gas prices are like a hidden tax. Not a hidden tax, it's a tax—it's taking money out of people's pockets. I know that. All the more reason for us to diversify away from crude oil."

Wheat prices sometimes rise and make the price of bread increase. The increase takes money out of people's pockets. Does such an increase also constitute a tax?

In fact, there's an important difference between taxes and increases in commodity prices. Politicians control taxes. They don't control commodity prices and shouldn't try to do so.

So Bush's thought on oil prices as taxes was both wrong to begin with and incomplete. It didn't own up to the inability of government to do anything constructive about high gasoline prices.

A larger omission looms invisibly behind the president's assertion that high gasoline prices give reason to "diversify away from crude oil."

A complete statement of Bush's argument would read something like this: "Because high gasoline prices act like a tax, the US should diversify away from crude oil to more expensive and less plentiful energy forms that cannot compete without tax breaks, which must be funded by higher taxes."

At the press conference, Bush even pointed to tax credits for hybrid vehicles and the push for fuel ethanol, which of course claims a huge tax credit.

There were no follow-up questions.

(Online Aug. 25, 2006; author's e-mail: bobt@ogjonline.com)


Related Articles

Political disputes, insecurity stymie Lebanese bid round

03/13/2015

For a promising natural gas resource off Lebanon, the only reportable discoveries are of ways to defer exploration.

Higher Iranian oil flow requires more than sanctions’ end

03/06/2015 Relaxation of sanctions squeezing Iran is just one among several dubious steps necessary if the Islamic Republic is to come close to meeting aggres...

Speaker suggests how Russian regime change might occur

02/27/2015

Speculative details about regime change in Russia have emerged from an especially interesting source.

Chevron wins again in Ecuador case as moneyman recants

02/23/2015 With another triumph in its long battle against litigious gold-digging involving Ecuador, Chevron Corp. again demonstrates the goodness of corporat...

Oil forecasts need a new asterisk for supply instability

02/13/2015

Do projections of worldwide oil supply need another asterisk?

EPA offers new, twisted excuse to stall Keystone XL

02/05/2015 Anyone puzzled by the delay in approval of the Keystone XL pipeline border crossing—running 6 years now, and counting—should read the Obama adminis...

After Keystone nod, Congress should okay ANWR leasing

01/30/2015 Now that it has passed legislation supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, Congress should approve oil and gas leasing of the Arctic National Wildlife...

Data refute Lew’s claims about taxes paid by producers

01/23/2015

On the subject of taxation, administration officials count on the public to believe anything.

Market watchers’ adjustments offer hints of recovery

01/16/2015 Because markets look ahead, changes in standard forecasts offer potentially important signals during storms such as the one now pummeling the oil a...
White Papers

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Oil & Gas Journal’s Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015

Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The  Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015 Webcast will address Oil & Gas Journal’s outlooks for the oil market and pipeline construction in a year of turbulence. Based on two annual special reports, the webcast will be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and OGJ Managing Editor-Technology Chris Smith.
The Forecast & Review portion of the webcast will identify forces underlying the collapse in crude oil prices and assess prospects for changes essential to recovery—all in the context of geopolitical pressures buffeting the market.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected