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.