Every poll taken and every conversation with a real person outside of DC shows gas prices as the number one issue in the country... and today Senate Democrats schooled us on it. “Republicans Defend Big Oil” is the basic message we sent the country after the energy debates in the Senate today, we'll really win elections on that one. Here’s the AP’s opening paragraph:
Saved by Senate Republicans, big oil companies dodged an attempt Tuesday to slap them with a windfall profits tax and take away billions of dollars in tax breaks in response to the record gasoline prices that have the nation fuming.
Anything that even gives a reporter the excuse to write that is political insanity. So how do we win on this issue instead of getting ourselves pegged as special interest shills? Stop doing anything that can be portrayed as defending oil companies, start shining the spotlight on the Saudis and shift the debate further towards production.
First, I don’t see any reason at all we need to keep getting stuck with the “defending tax breaks for big oil” charge over and over again. Subsidies are not a free market principle. Let’s cut ‘em and get the issue off the table.
Second, start talking about the Saudis. The Democrats are winning this debate because they’ve offered domestic oil companies up as a handy scapegoat. We’ve got to change the narrative and start focusing criticism on, gee I don’t know, the international cartel of terrorist funding despots that actually controls the oil supply? Of course, the legions of lobbyists and public affairs shops that the Saudi’s have retained around DC have absolutely nothing to do with why they haven’t been the subject of criticism.
Doing both of those things makes it easier for us to shift the spotlight back onto all the pro-energy production policies we want to pass and the Democrats insist on blocking. Republicans are much more serious about increasing production and making the
So practically, what should Senate Republicans have done differently? Let the bills come to the floor, drop the objection to cutting the oil company subsidies, offer amendments to strip out the windfall profits tax (letting senators vote their conscience on it) and then start offering amendments for a week straight on production-increasing measures that will “free us from our dependence on terrorist-funding despots.”