Anne Kornblut, writing for the daily campaign trail blog at WaPodescribes Hopey McHoperson’s plan to curb speculation in energy markets that Hopey’s advisors say would help stabilize soaring gas prices:
Obama proposed a four-step program that would, among other things, close a so-called “Enron loophole” that protects some energy futures trading from oversight by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, his advisers said.
“I think everyone believes there’s too much speculation in the oil markets, and a lot of it flows directly from that particular loophole,” Gov. Jon Corzine, the New Jersey Democrat, said on a conference call hosted by the Obama campaign.
The other three components of the plan, as described by Obama economic adviser Jason Furman, are: to ensure that US energy futures cannot be traded in offshore, unregulated markets; to work toward an international regulation of oil futures markets, in cooperation with like-minded countries; and to have both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice investigate the oil markets.
Whoa. “Like minded countries”? Who is that? France, of all places, seems most like us these days; Sarkozy has begun to sound positively Bushian in his speeches about Iraq. So I’m not sure if this is a way to actually include the rest of the world (you know, the one that hates us) or if it’s way of calling Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries run by crazies ‘crazy’ without actually saying the word.
But let’s be clear: closing the “Enron Loophole” will not produce a single additional drop of oil. Nor will it “stabilize” anything. Speculators – ie, traders – are interested in trends. The trend is your friend, is the saying. A trend is based on future events. That means that anyone making money on the increase in oil prices made their bets on the market IN THE PAST. While some are making beaucoups bux now, those who bet that the price would sink are bleeding money. Also, those who are making the bets aren’t directly influencing the price at all; they’re just trying to guess where it’s going.
Third, who exactly will soon be brought to the attention of the FTC and the DOJ? “Oil markets”? Who is that? The whole supply line from the producer to the consumer? Good lord, we’d spend literally billions of tax dollars on what would be the largest investigation ever undertaken by the US government.
Good luck with that.
And the last point is that it shouldn’t be called “Enron Loophole.” Enron was a great company run by great, innovative people. The word “Enron” should not be shorthand for any dirty, bad, underhanded thing that ever happens.
As gas prices have shot above $4 per gallon, energy has taken center stage in the campaign, with both Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, proposing policies to ease the crunch for consumers. McCain last week reversed his opposition to drilling offshore; he has also supported a holiday for consumers from paying federal taxes on gasoline.
The new president won’t take office until January 21 2009. That means that any ‘holiday’ from taxes won’t happen until then, which is fine with me, but it shouldn’t be viewed as some quick fix that will help summer vacationers.
Hows-about instead of a holiday from taxes, we just repeal them?
On Sunday, the McCain campaign said Obama is mimicking McCain on the gas loophole.
“The truth is Barack Obama is following John McCain’s lead to close a Wall Street loophole that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton,” McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement. “John McCain has supported bipartisan efforts to close this loophole and will work to address abuses in oil speculation. Barack Obama has voted the party line for Democrats who claim the loophole is fixed. The fact that Barack Obama is attacking John McCain, despite McCain’s leadership on the issue, shows that Barack Obama is driven by the partisan attacks that Americans are tired of.”
McCain is for anything that will make him look good to liberals. Any time I read “bipartisan”, I think “ball-less.”