Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pain at the Pump

By Rep. Joe Barton


When I went to fill up my car the other day I had a case of déjà vu.
Gas prices are skyrocketing and some experts say they won’t stop until they hit $5 a gallon. It’s like I stepped into a time machine and travelled back to the Summer of 2008.
In these same pages I wrote a column proclaiming: Cheaper gasoline is within our grasp.
Back then it was a Democrat-led Congress holding our energy policy hostage, now it is a Democratic President.
Democrats on Capitol Hill took every chance they got to block or delay Republican plans to increase home-grown energy production. While they are no longer in power, it appears President Obama is using the same playbook.
He started by issuing a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. And when a judge said it had to be lifted, the Obama Administration just stopped issuing drilling permits.
Unrest in the Middle East has sent oil prices over $100 a barrel, and our lack of energy production has left us without a buffer.
Gas prices have gone up rapidly in the past few weeks stifling the positive economic gain we have made recently. According to one major energy analyst, for every penny the price of gasoline increases, it costs consumers nationwide an additional $4 million per day.  That equals $1.4 billion over an entire year.
The good news is just like back in 2008: Cheaper gasoline is within our grasp.
Here are some easy steps to save you money at the pump:
• End De Facto Drilling Moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.  The Interior Department’s decision to issue only a handful of shallow water permits and one deepwater permit since the Deepwater Horizon explosion last April is hurting our economy.   According the Administration’s own estimates, the moratorium has resulted in 12,000 lost jobs and rigs are actively leaving the Gulf for foreign countries like Cuba, Brazil and Mexico.  According to the EIA, production in the Gulf has declined by nearly 300,000 barrels a day since last April.
• Increase Offshore Production.  President Obama has placed the entire Pacific Coast, Atlantic Coast and the Eastern Gulf off-limits to future energy production – as it was before Congress lifted the moratorium in 2008.   A good portion of Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf is also being kept under lock-and-key.  According to the American Energy Alliance, expanding drilling in the OCS could create 1.2 million jobs annually across the country and generate $8 trillion in economic output.
• Increase Alaskan Production. Declining production on the Alaskan North Slope threatens the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS), a vital artery of domestic oil.  Several fields with tremendous potential await exploration and production, but the Administration continues to drag its heels on permits and embargo our own oil from ourselves.
• Increase Onshore Production.  Regulations imposed by the Obama Administration have significantly decreased onshore oil and natural gas production. The Western U.S. holds more than half of the world’s oil shale resources, which can be converted to crude oil using new technology.  USGS estimates that the region may hold more than 1.5 trillion barrels of oil – six times Saudi Arabia’s proven resources – and enough to provide the U.S with energy for the next 200 years.
• Stop Blocking Access to North American Resources. Instead of relying on energy sources half a world away, America has opportunities to access energy from an ally and neighbor here in North America.  The Obama Administration is preventing that from happening by stalling approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would create new American jobs while enhancing our energy and national security by bringing 700,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil to U.S. consumers. The Keystone XL pipeline would also allow us to access several hundred thousand barrels per day of oil in the newly-discovered Bakken formation in North Dakota.
• Don’t Increase Taxes on American Energy.   Republicans oppose efforts by the Obama Administration to make energy more expensive and destroy jobs by imposing new taxes.  The President’s FY 2012 budget proposal includes over $60 billion in tax and fee increases on American energy production.  These taxes will hurt our economy and simply be passed on to consumers, resulting in even higher prices at the pump.
It is time for the President listen to Republicans and turn these common sense ideas into policy so we can lower prices at the pump and keep the economy moving forward.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wait, I thought it was all Bush's Fault!

Government posts biggest monthly deficit ever

Glen Perkins delivers copies of the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget to the Senate Budget Committee hearing room in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. President Barack Obama will send Congress a $3.7 trillion budget that would reduce deficits by $1.1 trillion over a decade, setting up a battle with Republicans who have already deemed the plan insufficient to reduce federal debt. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg 
Glen Perkins delivers copies of the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget to the Senate Budget Committee hearing room in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. President Barack Obama will send Congress a $3.7 trillion budget that would reduce deficits by $1.1 trillion over a decade, setting up a battle with Republicans who have already deemed the plan insufficient to reduce federal debt. 

The federal government posted its largest monthly deficit in history in February at $223 billion, according to preliminary numbers the Congressional Budget Office released Monday morning.
That figure tops last February’s record of $220.9 billion, and marks the 29th straight month the government has run in the red — a modern record. The last time the federal government posted even a monthly surplus was September 2008, just before the financial collapse.
Last month’s federal deficit is nearly four times as large as the spending cuts House Republicans have passed in their spending bill, and is more than 30 times the size of Senate Democrats’ opening bid of $6 billion.
Senators are slated to vote this week on those two proposals — both of which are expected to fail — and then all sides will go back to the negotiating table to try to work out a final deal.


FLASHBACK 2007--(This is for the year, mind you!)

Deficit for Fiscal 2007 Slides

It’s all in the surge – the revenue surge, that is.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated Friday that the U.S. federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2007, which ended Sunday, was about $161 billion, or 1.2% of gross domestic product. That’s down from the $248 billion shortfall recorded in fiscal 2006, which translated into 1.9% of GDP. The Treasury Department will report the official tally later this month.

Much of the improvement in the nation’s fiscal outlook in the last year has come from continued rapid growth in federal revenue. CBO estimates that 18.8% of GDP in fiscal 2007, up from 18.4% 2006 and 16.3% in 2004 and 18.4% in 2000. Outlays came to an estimated 20% of GDP, about equal to the average over the previous five years.

While annual federal spending grew 2.8% in fiscal 2007 over fiscal 2006, year to year, revenue grew 6.7%. Individual income-tax receipts are estimated to be 11.3% higher than last year, and corporate income tax receipts are estimated to be 5% higher. Revenue growth has cooled substantially from the 11.8% fiscal year-to-year increase from 2005 to 2006. Spending growth also slowed.

Federal expenditures were up in fiscal 2006 due to Gulf-coast hurricane recovery efforts. They were driven down in fiscal 2007 by legislation enacted in 2006 cutting student loan subsidies and auctioning off a portion of the broadcast spectrum, proceeds from which are recorded as negative expenditures not as revenues.

“While somewhat lower than estimates issued at the beginning of the year, the 2007 deficit announced today by the Congressional Budget Office is no cause for celebration,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D., S.C.)

CBO has estimated that if the U.S. maintains a military presence in Iraq and if Congress doesn’t allow the tax cuts enacted in President George W. Bush’s first term to expire, then recent improvements in the deficit will be reversed, pushing it up to to roughly $300 billion by 2012. – By John Godfrey

Sunday, March 6, 2011

One of the reasons the Obama Administration is at least partially responsible for today's high fuel prices


Interior appeals oil drilling ruling

A deepwater oil drilling rig is shown. | AP Photo
The Interior Department had hinted an appeal was coming at a Senate hearing Wednesday. | AP Photo 
The Obama administration has fired another shot in the fight over the speed with which the Interior Department is — or isn’t — letting oil drillers resume work in the Gulf of Mexico after last year’s Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
The administration late Friday appealed a judge’s orders directing the department to act on several pending Gulf Coast deep-water drilling permits.
Gulf state lawmakers and the oil industry have accused the department of dragging its feet on the permits, enacting a de facto moratorium against new drilling, while the department has said it needs to ensure that safety and environmental protections are in place.
Friday’s appeal challenges rulings by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who on Feb. 17 gave the department 30 days to make a verdict on five pending deep-water drilling permit applications. He later added two permits to that order.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hinted at the appeal during a Senate hearing Wednesday.
Feldman “in my view is wrong,” Salazar said. “And we will argue the case because I don’t believe that the court has the jurisdiction to basically tell the Department of the Interior what my administrative responsibilities are.”
“The policy we have in mind is unmistakingly clear,” he added. “We are moving forward with the development of oil and gas” production.
Earlier in February, the judge held the department in contempt, citing its “dismissive conduct” in blocking offshore drilling during last year’s spill.
The delay in issuing permits since last year’s Gulf oil spill is “increasingly inexcusable,” Feldman wrote.
The Interior Department on Monday announced the approval of the first deep-water drilling permit held up since last year’s spill. The permit, issued to Noble Energy for a well partly owned by BP, was not one of those that Feldman’s ruling addressed.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50703.html#ixzz1FsiI6PDP

Thursday, March 3, 2011

America's Third War: Texas Farmers Under Attack at the Border

America's Third War: Texas Farmers Under Attack at the Border 

In Texas, nearly 8,200 farms and ranches back up to the Mexican border.
The men and women who live and work on those properties say they’re under attack from the same drug cartels blamed for thousands of murders in Mexico.
“It’s a war, make no mistake about it,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said. “And it’s happening on American soil.”
Texas farmers and ranchers produce more cotton and more cattle than any other state, so Staples is concerned this war could eventually impact our food supply, and calls it a threat to our national security.
“Farmers and ranchers are being run off their own property by armed terrorists showing up and telling them they have to leave their land,” Staples said.

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To raise awareness, Commissioner Staples launched the website ProtectYourTexasBorder.com. It’s a place where frustrated and scared farmers can share their stories.
One Texas farmer, who asked not to be identified, said it’s common for him to see undocumented immigrants walking through his property.
“I see something, I just drive away,” he said. “It is a problem, I’ve learned to live with it and pretty much, I’ve become numb to it.”
Another farmer, Joe Aguilar, said enough is enough. After walking up on armed gunmen sneaking undocumented immigrants into the United States through his land, Aguilar decided to sell his farm.“It’s really sad to say, you either have to beat ‘em or join ‘em and I decided not to do either,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar's family farmed 6,000 acres of land along the Texas-Mexico border for nearly 100 years.
“Our farmers and ranchers can’t afford their own security detail,” Staples said. “We’re going to become more dependent on food from foreign sources.
Americans don’t like being dependent on foreign oil, they won’t stand for being dependent on foreign food.”
For more on the battle at our border, visit http://www.ProtectYourTexasBorder.com.

Obama's radical leftist group change.org and the ACLU are injecting themselves into our local issues

Gay activist gears up for protest against Flour Bluff High School

Obama's change.org group has sent out the email that I copied below and added this cause to the front page of their website. 

Please tell us what you think by posting a comment below, and if you would like to send a message of support to FBISD, I have provided the email address of Dr. Julie Carbajal, Superintendent.

jcarbajal@flourbluffschools.net--Dr. Julie Carbajal Superintendent of Flour Bluff I.S.D.

When Nikki Peet recently asked for a safe space for students to meet and discuss issues like anti-gay bullying at Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, she expected the support of her school district.
But instead, Dr. Julia Carbajal -- Flour Bluff's Superintendent -- decided to cancel all extra-curricular clubs in order to prevent Nikki’s "Gay Straight Alliance" (GSA) student group from forming. It's her way of getting around the federal "Equal Access Act" law mandating simliar access on school grounds to student groups, regardless of their politics or philosophy. 
We know what happens when schools fail to address the bullying of LGBT kids: depression, isolation, and suicide. So we need to help. 
Nine out of ten LGBT students experience harassment in school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. At least two-thirds feel unsafe in the classroom. LGBT teens can be up to four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers.
In just a few days, nearly 4,000 Change.org members have signed the petition supporting Nikki, sharing the story on Facebook and forwarding emails like this to their friends.
This Friday, Nikki and members of the Corpus Christi community are organizing a major demonstration outside Flour Bluff High School. At the protest, Nikki and her supporters will be delivering petition signatures to Flour Bluff administrators, sending a strong message that it’s time to provide a safe, caring and effective learning environment for all students -- including LGBT youth.
The superintendent's outrageous actions have garnered attention throughout the U.S. Students, parents, and school officials everywhere are watching to see what happens -- and the outcome in Corpus Christi will have reverberations across the country.  
Sign our petition today, so Nikki can deliver the signatures of as many people as possible this Friday in Texas:
Thanks for taking action,
- Eden and the Change.org team