Not everyone has a firm grasp of fundamental economic principles. We can see that reflected in the way Ohio’s Congressional delegation voted on the bailout bill, or “rescue plan,” or whatever you want to call it.
We saw a group of legislators who understood economic principles well enough that they comfortably stood by their convictions, voted “NO” on the bailout bill, and even put forward their own proposals to fix Wall Street’s mess without bailing out Wall Street using taxpayers’ money.
We also saw a group of legislators who knew a little bit about economics, saw the same crisis looming that the above-mentioned group saw, but who were only capable of “inside-the-box” thinking in coming up with a plan that will stave off a few symptoms of the malaise, “for the good of the country,” but will not eradicate the pathogens that have sickened our economy, thus the economic crisis has not been averted. These representatives to Congress voted “YES” on the bailout bill because they only knew enough of economics to offer temporary relief from the symptoms, not enough to treat the syndrome, and figured it was better to act on the little bit of knowledge that they had than do nothing.
Then there were three legislators, Pat Tiberi, Jean Schmidt, and Betty Sutton, who are so clueless about economics that they don’t know what or who to believe. They took their cue from others (check out this video clip of Betty Sutton from the Openers section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer), because they lacked their own knowledge and inward convictions. They voted NO on Monday but changed their vote to YES on Friday.
If the economy is issue number one in this election, then how are these three supposed to be of any help?
Of course, one must look at who they are running against to see if their challengers offer any advantages over the incumbents.
Betty Sutton’s district neighbors my own (I’m in Kaptur’s district), so it’s only natural I would look there, first. After making a few inquiries, I found the website of Dave Potter, Republican candidate for Sutton’s 13th Congressional District seat. Someone sent an e-mail to me with a press release from the Potter Congressional campaign with yesterday’s date on it. I looked through it to find something relevant to the bailout bill. I found it. Here’s an excerpt:
What our economy needs is market-based solutions, not government intervention and not lawmakers taking politically expedient votes with no understanding of how we got here. We need common sense solutions that force Wall Street [to] fund this recovery, not the taxpayers.
See? Potter’s the alternative to Sutton that voters of Ohio’s 13th Congressional District need.
For a little more comparison, when one clicks on the “Issues” tab on Potter’s campaign website, the first issue on the list is energy. In a nutshell, Potter takes an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy independence.
Back on the 29th of April, I noted that Betty Sutton had sent a message to Word of Mouth blog to inform them of her record on combatting high gasoline prices in Congress up to that point in time. This is what her office had to say:
Here is some information on the Congresswoman’s record on energy and price fixing.
- Rep. Sutton supports the suspension of purchases of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) temporarily. Filling the SPR takes 70,000 barrels of oil off the market each day, even though the reserve is 97 percent full with enough to meet our national security needs. At a time of record prices, suspending these government purchases, as we have done in the past, could reduce gas prices by 5 to 24 cents a gallon — a critical first step for America’s families, businesses, and the economy.
- Rep. Sutton has joined with other Freshman House members to urge the President to temporarily suspend purchases of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). This would allow more oil to remain on the market and could drive down the price of gas for consumers by as much as $.25 a gallon.
- Rep. Sutton is also a cosponsor of H.R. 5473 to temporarily suspend shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
- Rep. Sutton is a cosponsor of H.R. 2372 – WEAN Off of Oil Act (DeLauro) – Imposes a 50% tax on crude oil profits over $50 per barrel by major oil companies and directs proceeds to the Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve.
The Congresswoman has taken steps to address price fixing:
- House passed bill to deal with price-gouging/fixing at the wholesale and retail level: Rep. Sutton cosponsored and the House passed H.R. 1252 – Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act (Rep. Stupak) – Protects consumers from price-gouging of gasoline and other fuels by setting criminal penalties and permitting states to bring lawsuits against wholesalers or retailers.
- House passed bill to address price fixing at the OPEC level: Rep. Sutton voted for and the House passed H.R. 2264 – No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC) – Authorizes the Justice Department to take legal action against OPEC state-controlled entities that participate in conspiracies to limit the supply, or fix the price, of oil.
- Market Manipulation: Rep. Sutton is a cosponsor of the Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act, H.R. 594 (The PUMP Act). This bill would amend the Commodity Exchange Act to extend its jurisdiction to certain: (1) “included energy transactions” traded on an electronic trading facility; and (2) certain energy commodities involved in over-the-counter transactions. This would address market manipulation on the commodity level and empowers the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to impose civil and criminal penalties for price manipulation and other violations of such Act.
In addition, the Congresswoman supported the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law by the President.
- Oil savings: The bill increases fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon in 2020. The fuel economy and renewable fuel standards combined will save the U.S. 2.3 million barrels of oil a day in 2020, which is about what we import from the Persian Gulf today. This act is important as we reduce our dependence on oil. The fuel economy provisions alone will create 149,300 jobs, and save consumers $22 billion at the pump every year starting in 2020 ($700 – $1000), even after paying for the fuel-saving technology needed to meet the standards.
- The bill also invests in clean renewable energy. (Since the bill did not repeal all of the subsidies paid to big oil, Rep. Sutton joined with other Freshman House Members and signed two letters urging Congressional leadership to continue to pursue an increase in a renewable electricity standard (RES) and to pass renewable energy and efficiency tax incentives paid for by ending subsidies to big oil companies. Sutton also voted for H.R H.R. 5351, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Act, which passed the House. This bill contains provisions to end unnecessary subsidies to big oil companies and instead provide tax incentives to invest in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- Long-term Reinvestment in Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing. Rep. Sutton wrote a letter, co-signed by several other members of Congress, to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development urging funding for the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program. This program was authorized by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and provides low interest loans to automobile manufacturers and component suppliers. The loans would cover up to 30% of the cost of retooling a manufacturing facility in the United States to produce advanced technology vehicles or their key components, e.g., engines and transmissions.
This communication seemed overly wordy to me, so I thought I’d offer my own simplified analysis of what Sutton’s office had to say:
Sutton’s measures vis-a-vis the Strategic Petroleum Reserve=a drop in the bucket, so that wipes out the first 3 bullet points. That such measures could drive prices down by up to 25 cents a gallon is ludicrous. That’s grossly overestimated.
The fourth bullet point just means that when oil prices are already high, she wants to add more taxes to make the prices higher.
5th bullet point, redundant. We already have state laws that protect us from retail price gouging.
6th bullet point, silly, because our Justice Department can’t really take on OPEC countries, and going after the companies only induces a shell game.
7th bullet point, half measure. The whole futures market is in need of overhaul. Tweaking is insufficient.
8th bullet point, 2020 is a long way off.
9th bullet point, Sutton signed two letters.
10th bullet point, Sutton wrote a letter.
That doesn’t sound like much to me. What do you think?
I think it’s time to elect Dave Potter to Congress.