If Representative Dean Heller’s (R-NV2) explanation to the Las Vegas Sun is to be believed, then the ‘logic’ of his vote last week on the energy bill in the House goes as follows: (1) Big Oil companies need tax breaks to keep prices low; (2) Big Oil companies will raise prices if they lose their tax breaks; (3) Pickup drivers in his district want low prices; therefore (4) Big Oil companies should get tax breaks. However, one gets the distinct impression that the real reason for the vote is explained further down the article – Heller continues to play the contrarian, counting on any vote against “environmentalists” as a position that will play well in his district.
The practical effect: Unfortunately neither items one, nor two, hold up to even the most casual scrutiny. The Big Oil corporations got tax breaks, to the tune of $18 billion – and did customers see any relief at the pumps in
When the House passed legislation allowing tax breaks for Big Oil in 2005 [WaPo] the average price for a gallon of regular was $2.54. [NGP] This information hardly supports Heller’s contention that allowing Big Oil to take tax breaks equates to lower prices at the pump. During the period when Big Oil was enjoying the tax breaks, prices at the pump in Elko County increased 47 cents, or by about 18.5%.
The philosophical effect: Railing against the “Feds” does, indeed, play well in rural areas of Heller’s district. A very vocal cadre of anti-government types in favor of “wise use” (exploiters) and “no regulation” (polluters) hold sway in many local media outlets in the region. However, more well informed citizens are familiar with the local politics underpinning the Great Shovel Brigade ‘movement’ in Elko County – and the connection between the road to the ‘outhouse’ and a former Elko County commissioner. Additionally, they are also cognizant of the Fed’s efforts to assist a valley rancher by offering a way for him to keep cattle from foundering in a spring and keep the water source in better shape – which were refused. There are still individuals in the area who hold the untenable position that wildland fires can be prevented by deliberately allowing overgrazing. Heller is counting on the prevalence of these attitudes to keep him in office.
He’s “OK with a soccer mom wanting to drive an SUV;” he wants the “lights to come on when he flips a switch.” [LVSun] This is almost Presentism at its finest. By Representative Heller’s lights nothing needs to be done until the soccer mom can no longer afford to put gas in the tank, or until we’ve created enough carbon emissions to render human life on the planet all but impossible. These are short-term and ultimately really very selfish views, a perspective most often demonstrated by small children who want what they want when they want it. Further, the number supporting Heller’s position may be shrinking, not dramatically, but perceptibly.
When Representative Heller was elected in 2004 there were 9,074 registered Democrats in
In the mean time drivers in