Friday, May 2, 2008

Todd Tiahrt, Oil Oligarch

If there's one thing Todd Tiahrt loves more than skyboxes provided by his pal Jack Abramoff it's oil, and oil loves him too. Tiahrt is the fifth largest recipient of oil lobbyist dollars in the House of Representatives. Not bad for someone who isn't from a large oil producing state.

Some would have thought this love affair would go on forever but there is a jealous third party, the American people. For some reason to tightwad elitist Americans, who don't share the down home values of "I have nine houses" John McCain, are upset that they are paying gas that, in Wichita, is currently at $3.44 a gallon.

So those nasty elitist Democrats are looking at the top five oil companies, that made a combined $123 billion last year, don't really need the government handout of $18 billion.

Tiahrt should agree. After all, Tiahrt's a Republican and we all know that Republicans are some "pull yourself up by your bootstraps, don't accept a welfare check" Republican. Exxon-Mobile should work hard for it's money just like "fly in my personal jet" McCain who had to work hard at sleeping with a rich beer heiress while his own wife was crippled from an accident. Alas, I digress. Tiahrt's all about independence and fiscal responsibility right?

Um, no.

During this latest attempt by Democrats to invest in it's nation's energy infrastructure by weening us off foreign oil Tiahrt said no, "Any tax increase that Congress imposes on the oil companies would only be paid for by consumers through boosted prices at the gas pump."

Perhaps he has a point. The oil companies are scrounging. If they lose the tax breaks then their $123 billion profit would have been only $105 billion. $18 billion, after all, is more than the NASA budget for 2008. NASA the folks that gave us kidney dialysis machines, CAT scanners, cordless power tools and freeze dried ice cream. Exxon sells a billion dollars of oil a day, but I guess we need that money to give a good paycheck to Exxon CEO Lee Raymond a $400 million a year salary. That's $6,000 an hour, he must work really hard personally pissing out that oil.

But would removing those tax breaks actually cause an increase in the price of gas (Tiahrt must not be aware that with them we still see gas prices go up 100% in a couple years)? The answer is no. Here's how the system works in a nutshell.

OPEC determines how much oil is going to be produced and sets a base price for the market. Irregardless of supply or demand they tell us what they want to sell at and you don't have a choice. They sell to market speculators, the commodity traders on Wall Street. Thanks to deregulation in the 90s there is no oversight and they can manipulate the price regardless of what the supply/demand is. The oil is bought by the companies who have to refine the oil into gasoline. In order to reduce supply they shut down refineries thereby increasing the price of gas. Then it's sent out to the gas stations who mark up the price for their own profit, but also have to jack up the price because these places take credit cards and they have to get their percentage whether or not you actually use a credit card.

So every bit of the way someone increases the price. The tax breaks are a way to guarantee the oil companies maintain a profit. They were implemented back when oil was $35 a barrel when Saddam Hussein was flooding the market with cheap oil to piss off American and OPEC. The Republicans dealt with the cheap oil problem by illegally invading Iraq, so don't expect them to solve the problem of expensive oil, it's what they wanted all along.

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