Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

This Congress is so dysfunctional that changing the face of the Majority Leader or anyone else at that level will have no impact on energy policy or priorities.

The Republicans and Democrats are like the Germans, English and French during World War I. They both carried out warfare from trenches with neither side doing more than expending a lot of artillery and incurring large casualties without gaining ground. As military inertia was the dynamic then, political inertia is the dynamic of today.

The Republican House of Representatives covers the political spectrum, which means that the Majority Leader has to do the equivalent of herding cats. It has always been that way but it is more so now with the presence of Tea Party members

It makes no difference who the majority leader is when it comes to energy policy since there is no present way to reconcile House and Senate notions of what constitutes sound energy policy. The presence of Tea Party members in the House may have the effect of reducing the number of subsidies, like the wind tax credit, which steal from tax payers to enrich the politically favored and further entrench crony capitalism.

Since the 1974 oil embargo, energy policy has been driven primarily by illusion and not objective realities. As a result, policy choices have hindered economic growth, wasted research dollars, and encouraged well healed companies to seek profit through the regulatory and legislative processes instead of the market place. The likelihood of that changing anytime soon is vanishingly small.

What is being observed in the energy field is symptomatic of a dysfunctional political system where ideology and special interests shape outcomes instead of the nation’s business. Lobbyist and lawyers profit at the expense of the economy and tax paying citizens. The disdain for government and the rise of the Tea Party are the consequence. The long term outlook is not encouraging or healthy, absent some external force that will force major change. There are too many problems receiving too little attention to be optimistic about the future. All great powers collapsed from internal rot caused by an entitled class that enriched itself. We may be traveling down the road to perdition.

The President and members of Congress have chosen politics as their profession and this crowd has helped make it an epithet. They need to remember Henry Clay’s wise counsel: Politics is not about ideology or political purity; it is about governing. And, if you can’t compromise, you can’t govern. To that I would add, you can’t govern without understanding the problems to be addressed.

 

This article appeared on the National Journal’s Energy Insiders weblog at http://disqus.com/wokeefe/

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