Senate Comes Disturbingly Close To Passing Cloture On Windfall Profit Taxes
50 votes to invoke cloture and consider the Carteriffic idea of imposing a supplemental tax burden on the activity of oil refinement and distribution. And those 50 didn't include Kennedy or Byrd (who are ill) or Clinton or Obama (who couldn't be bothered), all four of whom can be counted on to support the bass ackwards approach of penalizing Americans for engaging or investing in the production of a commodity, the availability and affordability of which we're ostensibly trying to increase.
The thought that the U.S. Senate is as few as 6 votes from a filibuster-proof desire to aim this gun at our own heads again is more than a little alarming. To review:
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 Congressional Research Service] 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.
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.
Joining the unanimous Democratic caucus were three Republican Senators - Olympia Snowe (ME), Bob Corker (TN), and Gordon Smith (OR).
I must confess I struggle to conceive of what might account for so many objectively asinine votes. A certain percentage can presumably be chalked up to old-fashioned stupidity - a genuine inability among some either to suss out the economic causality or to learn from the disastrous consequences of this precise mistake from the last go-round. But skulls that numb - even in the upper chamber - couldn't number more than 10%. At least a few others are likely all too willing to vote in favor of what they do recognize as dreadful policy, on the assumption that their constituents will laud the bill out of a knee-jerk hatred of oil companies and that it's far easier to pick up a torch and join that lynch mob than to 1) try to convince their colleagues and constituents that the policy is dreadful via their vast rhetorical and parliamentary prowess, or 2) make a principled vote if they're unable to sway the mob. These basest of political animals might number another 25%. Add in another 8% for the Freshman Democrats who can be expected to do as their told and 3% for a few wild RINOs and you still don't get to a simple majority (even before adjusting for the significant overlap among those groups), much less 54%.
Which legislative genus am I undercounting?
(HT: Power Line)
Handcrafted by Flip on June 10, 2008 |
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Senate Comes Disturbingly Close To Passing Cloture On Windfall Profit Taxes:
Tracked on Aug 26, 2009 10:26:45 AM
Tracked on Aug 30, 2009 3:33:23 AM