Monday, April 24, 2006

America's Looming Crisis: Our Oil Addiction

As Americans, we all know that we are dangerously addicted to oil.

The President even admitted it in his State of the Union speech this year. (However, he has yet to do anything about it)

This addiction is at the core of many of the most serious problems right now in our nation. Most notable are gas prices and the situation in the Middle East.

Gas prices are out of control and on the rise, while situations in the Middle East seem to get worse than better. (The main reason why Iran is a threat and a destabilizing force is because they are a nation of oil)

You may not have thought about it before, but this is the first war in which the American people are funding both sides at the same time.

At home, we tax ourselves outrageous amounts and then borrow money from China to pay for our troops and their effort.

On the flip side, we fund our enemy, the insurgents, every time we go to the pump to fill up our vehicles.

As Congressman Ford explains, "Four and a half years after 9/11, we buy more oil from the people who did harm to us and we spend more for it." "You have to ask the basic question: Who's getting the last laugh?

Ford is not alone in his assessment that our oil addiction is making the United States fund both sides in the war on terrorism.

As New York Times writer Tom Friedman recently noted, "By adamantly refusing to do anything to improve energy conservation in America, or to phase in a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax on American drivers, or to demand increased mileage from Detroit's automakers, or to develop a crash program for renewable sources of energy, the Bush team is - as others have noted - financing both sides of the war on terrorism. We are financing the U.S. armed forces with our tax dollars, and, through our profligate use of energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where the cash is used to insulate the regimes from any pressure to open up their economies, liberate their women or modernize their schools, and where it ends up instead financing madrassas, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agenda America is trying to promote. Now how smart is that?"

Congressman Ford has been outspoken on this issue in Congress as well as on the campaign trail.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Congressman Ford made the issue central in his recent campaign stop in Knoxville:

"Noting that oil prices had surged close to $70 a barrel and gas prices in Knoxville averaged $2.62 a gallon, he added: "There isn't a Democratic or Republican way to pay $69 a barrel for oil."

Ford called for a visionary effort such as the push to build the interstate highway system or to land a person on the moon. He said removing the country's dependence on foreign oil would remove the need for military action in the future."

Congressman Ford has matched his rhetoric with action while serving in the Congress, passing legislation that is aimed towards reducing our nation's dependence on oil and increasing conservation:

Congressman Harold Ford’s legislation for reduced independence on foreign oil and increased conservation through the production of hybrid and advanced diesel vehicles passed the House in its final version today and is poised to become law.

Ford’s legislation, in the form of an amendment to this year’s energy bill, originally passed the House on April 21. The final version, which reconciled differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, overwhelmingly passed the House today and is expected to pass the Senate soon, leaving it to await the President’s signature to become law.

"Hybrid and advanced diesel technology is critical to achieve national energy independence, for the sake of our economy, national security and environment," Ford said. "By providing incentives for our country’s car and truck manufacturers to develop the next generation of fuel efficient vehicles, this initiative will create hi-tech jobs vital to maintaining the nation’s competitiveness in the global economy.

"This is welcome news for Tennessee and our thriving auto and truck manufacturing sectors. It is particularly helpful for towns like Smyrna, home to 6,700 men and women making Nissan’s next-generation hybrid vehicles; Spring Hill, home of 5,700 workers at the Saturn plant; and Madison, home of 1,300 workers manufacturing at least 60 large trucks a year at the Peterbilt Plant."

Ford worked with fellow Tennesseans Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman Bart Gordon, each of whom sit on their respective energy committees, to ensure that the conferees appointed to negotiate the final version of the energy bill extended the production incentives to all car and truck manufacturers so long as they produce the vehicles domestically. This ensures that foreign-model vehicles produced in the U.S. qualify for these grants and incentives, benefiting communities like Smyrna.

It is clear Congressman Ford is dedicated to working towards a solution on this all important issue.

However, once again, his Republican opponents are missing in action.

None of the Republicans running against him in this race have shown any real interest in weening our nation of this dangerous addiction. It seems they are too busy debating over who has the most funds on hand and who has won the most straw polls.

I am proud Congressman Ford has took the initiative to make this issue a focal point in his campaign.

Campaigns are about supposed to be about the future and there is no other issue more pressing to the future of our nation than this one.

110 Days

Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics

Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.

It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.

It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.

I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!

Read Congressman Ford's call for reform of the House rules here!