We found that only 11 of those votes would have reduced or eliminated subsidies or tax incentives for alternative energy. The rest were votes McCain cast against the mandatory use of alternative energy, or votes in favor of allowing exemptions from such mandates.
FACT CHECK: McCain’s plan entails cutting the overall corporate tax rate and does not represent a special $4 billion in tax breaks for the oil companies. Both Obama and McCain have proposed plans that eliminate tax loopholes for oil and gas companies, according to the Associated Press.
McCain bases his claim on a partial quote from Obama on Dec. 30, 2007. Obama said, “I start off with the premise that nuclear energy is not optimal. I am not a nuclear energy proponent.” If that was all Obama said it would not make him an opponent of nuclear power, of course. But Obama went on to say, “There is no perfect energy source. Everything has some problems right now. We haven’t found it yet. Now I trust in our ingenuity. I have not ruled out nuclear as part of that [$150 billion proposed energy research] package, but only so far as it is clean and safe.”
Furthermore, the energy plan Obama released in October 2007 said: “It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table.”
A: I meet Americans every day who are really hard hit. So absolutely, I want to make sure that tax stimulus package proposed that would follow up the initial rebate check with another one if you had three consecutive months of unemployment. That gets out to people right away. And in fact, we have a better chance of getting that done than the proposal that John McCain and Hillary Clinton have put forward, but understand this: the idea of a gas tax holiday is a phony approach. It is a gimmick. We saw this tried in a number of other states including my home state of Illinois. And what happens is, at best, you’re seeing pennies over 90 days, but more typically what happens is the oil companies just jack up prices by the same amount as the gas tax was as it’s suspended, so consumers don’t see the savings.
A: You’re right; this defines the difference between myself and Senator Clinton This gas tax, which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly adopted by Senator Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick. It is a political response to a serious problem that we have neglected for decades. Here’s the upshot. You’re looking at suspending a gas tax for three months. The average driver would save 30 cents per day for a grand total of $28. That’s assuming that the oil companies don’t step in and raise prices by the same amount that the tax has been reduced.
If the 2005 energy bill signed by President Bush was indeed the “single largest investment in clean energy” ever seen, as Obama says, then it’s hard to see how his administration can be faulted for lack of “any serious effort” to promote alternative fuels. Furthermore, another bill Bush signed in December sets a national fuel economy standard of 35 mpg by 2020, the first major increase in vehicle fuel efficiency standards in more than three decades.
It is certainly true that more could be done, and Obama would be within his rights to say that Bush’s efforts aren’t serious enough to suit him. But claiming a lack of any serious effort at all is contradicted by the record and by Obama’s own words.
A: I have some experience on this because in Illinois we tried this when I was in the state legislature, and that’s exactly what happened. The oil companies, the retailers were the ones wh ended up benefiting.
Q: But you voted for it.
A: I did.
Q: When gas was only $2 a gallon.
A: I voted for it, and then six months later we took a look, and consumers had not benefited at all, but [the state] had lost revenue.
Q: So you learned from a wrong vote.
A: Yeah, I learned from a mistake. And, in addition, this would come out of the Federal Highway Fund that we use to rebuild our roads and our bridges. Now, Sen. Clinton says that she’s going to use the windfall profits tax to fill it, but she’s already said that she’s going to use the windfall profits tax to invest in clean energy. More importantly, nobody thinks that George Bush is actually going to sign a law for windfall profits taxes, so that’s not going to happen this summer.
McCAIN: I traveled all over the world looking at the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Now, what’s the best way of fixing it? Nuclear power. Sen. Obama says that it has to be safe or disposable or something like that. Nuclear power is safe, and it’s clean. And I know that we can reprocess the spent nuclear fuel. The Japanese, the British, the French do it. And we can do it, too. Sen. Obama has opposed that.
OBAMA: I’ve called for investments in solar, wind, geothermal. Contrary to what Sen. McCain keeps on saying, I favor nuclear power as one component of our overall energy mix. But this is another example where I think it is important to look at the record. Sen. McCain said a while back that the big problem with energy is that for 30 years, politicians in Washington haven’t done anything. What Sen. McCain doesn’t mention is he’s been there 26 of them. And during that time, he voted 23 times against alternative fuels.
But no more. Obama's proposed cap-and-trade legislation--little more than a tax on carbon emissions--threatens to eliminate this newfound advantage for U.S. companies. By imposing a tax on manufacturers who reside in the United States, but not on those that are in India or China (both of whom refuse to go along with the emissions taxes), Obama creates a massive incentive to move manufacturing jobs out of the country.
The result? When an American factory closes, the odds are increasing that it will move away, rather than wait for Obama's carbon-tax axe to fall.
Gasoline, electricity, and heating oil will all become more expensive under cap-and-trade, and so will everything that is made or shipped using electricity, coal, or gas--which is pretty much everything.
But Obama later endorsed Waxman-Markey, which gives away 85 percent of the credits. Understandably, some of Obama's green allies did not like seeing their cherished anti-carbon regime transform into "the largest corporate welfare program" in US history
After the House passed it, Obama praised the bill as "a historic piece of legislation." And in terms of doling out corporate welfare, it certainly was.
But profits generated through regulation and subsidies don't come from thin air--they come from higher prices and higher taxes. Every dime GE pockets in windmill subsidies is a dime a taxpayer could have spent stimulating some other portion of the economy. Every dollar Goldman Sachs makes in cellulosic ethanol subsidies is a dollar a taxpayer could have invested in a technology with more promise than squeezing fuel out of grass. And when our utility bills go up thanks to cap-and-trade, that's money an American family could have spent on books, vacations, or repairing broken doors. This simple economic principle undermines the idea of green jobs.
It’s time to make energy security a leading priority. My energy plan will invest $150 billion over the next ten years to establish a green energy sector that will create up to 5 million jobs over the next two decades. We’ll help manufacturers--particularly in the auto industry--convert to green technology, and help workers learn the skills they need. And unlike George Bush, I won’t wait until the sixth year of my presidency to sit down with the automakers.
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