If you need one more reason to vote Republicans out of Congress, just look at the huge $13 billion dollar Christmas present they gave the oil industry. The Senate yesterday passed landmark energy legislation to increase fuel efficiency of cars and trucks by 40% but on a 59 to 40 vote to end debate, were forced to strip from the bill key tax reform provisions to repeal special tax breaks for the oil industry. They also dropped a renewable energy mandate and renewable energy tax credits

One Democrat, Senator Mary Landieu supported the oil industry by voting no to end debate and one Republican, John McCain, was not present to vote. Considering the significance of this bill one has to wonder what he thought was more important than being there for the vote.

The 2008 election continues to shape up as a major turning point for America. It is an opportunity for Democrats to contrast their forward moving agenda to deal with issues like energy independence and global warming with the Republican sell out to corporate America at the expense of the common good for America’s citizens and their pocketbooks.

Face it, the Republicans continue to live in the past and remain beholden to special interests like the oil industry. And Democrats need to show some spine and be leaders in moving America forward. As the New York Times writes today,

some environmentalists said they were unhappy that the bill would not provide large incentives for expansion of renewable energy sources like wind, solar and biothermal.
Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth Action, accused Senate Democrats of “capitulating” to Senate Republicans and the White House.
“When the Republican leadership and the polluter lobby have blocked important legislation, Senate Democrats have been all too willing to move in their direction,” Mr. Blackwelder said in a statement. “The result is that the two most positive provisions of the energy bill — a clean energy mandate and a tax package reining in handouts for fossil fuels and promoting clean energy — are being removed, while detrimental provisions, such as a radical five-fold increase in unsustainable biofuel use, remain.”

Carl Hulse in On the Hill quotes what part of the strategy of the Republicans will be during the coming year. It will be to blame the Democrats for the problems Democrats inherited from the Republicans, all the while doing everything they can to be sure that Democrats get as little done as they can to solve these problems.

Here’s what Hulse quotes the Republican National Committee saying in its comments on their recent victories in the Special Elections to fill two Congressional vacancies.

“The underlying economic anxiety that Americans feel toward the tax-and-spend policies of the new, wildly unpopular do-nothing Democratic Congress have led to the emergence of issues such as combating illegal immigration and providing tax relief to working families and will ultimately play to Republicans’ advantage next year,”

Give me a break. “Wildly unpopular do nothing Congress“? The Republicans are the ones obstructing getting things done. And President Bush’s vetoes since the Democrats gained the majority are part of this strategy. The Republican strategy is to try to prevent the Democrats from passing significant legislation so that the Republicans can say it is the Democrats fault.

Look at what the Republicans do, not what they say. They are playing with right wing talk radio hype hoping Americans are easily deceived.

Providing tax relief to working families” ? If you believe the Republicans are going to do this you sure didn’t understand what was happening when they controlled Congress. Tell me how the Republicans, by preventing the repeal of the oil industries special tax breaks, and as a result giving $13 billion in tax breaks to the oil industry, is going to help working families.

The Republicans fought fuel efficiency legislation for cars and trucks all the way. The Democratic sponsored and passed bill according to the Environment News Service is expected to save 1.1 million barrels of oil a day and save consumers some $22 billion in 2020. Proponents say it will also make a significant dent in U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, equivalent to taking some 60 million cars off the road. ”

Thank you Democrats!
The Environmental News Service  noted that the Democratic passed legislation also

“…tightens energy efficiency standards for government buildings as well as for consumer appliances and products.
“People underestimate efficiency, but today household appliances, lighting and electronics use up to two-thirds of energy in households,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat. “By requiring these new standards for manufacture of these products, we will save over 40,000 megawatts of energy. That is the same amount of electricity used in 19 states today.”

Thank you Democrats!

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