I’m Missing Something

in this report from the New York Times. The report takes note of campaign promises from John Edwards to ease the sting of increases in the price of oil:

To ease the financial burden for low-income families, Mr. Edwards, a Democrat from North Carolina, said Congress should tap into its heating and oil reserves and increase subsidies to the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which he said President Bush had unfairly scaled back. In February, Mr. Bush proposed an 18 percent cut in the program, which provides $2.2 billion this year to help people pay heating bills.

I have no problem with subsidizing the cost of heating the homes of those who are truly needy. However, tapping into the heating oil reserves would presumably be a subsidy to everyone using fuel oil for heating regardless of need—not a good idea.

Here’s the part that puzzled me:

He also spoke out against oil companies, saying they exerted too much control and should be investigated more fully by the Justice Department. “We need to find out if these oil companies are gouging the American people, because we know they’re making a lot of money,” Mr. Edwards said. “We need to stop subsidizing the big oil companies’ profits with taxpayer money.”

The article doesn’t fill in the blanks on what subsidies Sen. Edwards intends to end. Is lack of regulation a subsidy? I also note that some plaintiff’s attorneys are “making a lot of money”, too. Should they receive increased scrutiny?

Also, why doesn’t Sen. Edwards propose measures to wean those people in the Northeast whose homes are heated by oil away from fuel oil? While most homes in the Northeast aren’t heated by fuel oil, most homes heated by fuel oil are in the Northeast. Why isn’t this a state issue rather than a federal issue? Other than the fact that Sen. Edwards is stumping for votes in New Hampshire, that is.

If you haven’t seen it you might want to take a glance at the Energy Information Agency’s Winter Fuels Outlook for 2007.

3 comments… add one
  • Edwards is just pandering.

    That said, the only subsidy I can think of is that mentioned by Sen. Biden in earlier debates, that is the tax incentives provided by the Energy Bill signed by Pres. Bush. I seem to recall him, in an answer to a question, tell of how he asked the oil companies if they needed these million dollar incentives to search for more oil, and how the executives had responded “No.” I don’t know if these have been repealed, but it may be what former Sen. Edwards is alluding to.

  • I think Edwards, when faced with a difficult of ambiguous problem, tends to revert to his trial lawyer roots – hence the calls to “investigate” the oil companies. Of course, it’s also much easier to point the finger at corporate interests rather than attempt to address the more difficult problems inherent in our Nation’s energy policies….

  • Larry Corbett Link

    Until recently heating with oil was a good choice, and still is for now anyway. I heated only with oil last winter, which started out mild, but dropped off the deep end for a few months middle of Jan and through Feb, but even then I personally only used a bit over 300 gallons of heating fuel. Last year it cost me just over one thousand dollars, if this winter is comparable to last winter, it might cost me an extra 300 or so this year..but time will tell.

    Currently the cost of the same fuel is now over 90 cents higher than last year at this time. The average income, per individual in my state is around 26k, those who are in the upper wage brackets can absorb things a bit easier, those earning much less or are on fixed incomes will find it a bit more difficult.

    Part of the problem is the fear of fuel shortages..as well as the higher prices. Living in the northeast and consuming energy to keep warm is not much different than living in the south using energy to run airconditioning to stay cool during the hot season..when next seasons summer heat arrives and the cost of producing energy to run those airconditioners jumps or even fails, what will their reactions be, fear, anger, happiness??

    So why did Bush cut the funding for emergncy home heating oil assistance?
    Is it just another attack against those less finacially successful? Is it a punishment for being poor? The cost of the heating oil assistance is nothing..you forgot to mention that only 4% of the nation uses heating oil to heat their homes.

    Where has the funding gone…to pay for the war in Irag..? What is that cost running now, a trillion dollars?? And where is that Iragy oil…you would think that at $100 bucks a barrel there would be some oil flowing from there, but perhaps that is yet another story…I think there isn’t much doubt in most American minds that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark!!

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