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Carter 2.0 — Biden Blames Others For His War On (Reliable) Energy

biden carter

Joe Biden is the gift that keeps on giving. The gift, that is, of parallels with fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Most Americans have no memories of the actual Carter presidency, from 1977 to 1981, but this Baby Boomer sure does. As for you youngins, you can look him up, and you’ll see too: He was terrible in office.

So terrible, in fact, that when he ran for re-election in 1980, he was thunderously defeated, losing to Ronald Reagan by almost ten points in the popular vote and by 489 to 49 in the electoral college.

Yes, Carter was that bad.

So it might seem strange that Biden seems to have chosen Carter as a role model. He is replicating, for instance, Carter’s policies on regulatory contraction and, at the same time, price inflation.

Yes, it’s a strange emulation, and yet here we are in the early 2020s, replaying the late 1970s. …snip…

But perhaps Biden doesn’t remember this history anymore. So let’s recollect it for him.

Flashback to Carter 1.0

Jimmy Carter came into office on January 20, 1977, convinced that American energy producers—including, but not limited to, the big oil companies—were the problem.

Specifically, the new president was convinced that producers were wrongfully withholding supply, thereby undermining support for his grand governmental energy plan.

It was strange for Carter to think that bureaucrats were the solution since it was an American entrepreneur, Edwin Drake, who had launched the oil industry when he struck black gold in Titusville, Pennsylvania, back in 1859.

Indeed, entrepreneurs, and later tycoons, had made America the planet’s leading oil producer throughout the 19th and most of the 20th century.

In fact, U.S. oil production only started to falter in 1971, when President Richard Nixon imposed price controls on oil as part of an overall strategy of combatting inflation with regulation and red tape—an effort that was not a success.

The predictable result of those price controls was that U.S. energy production, which had been rising for more than twelve decades, began to decline.

This was the situation that Jimmy Carter inherited when he took office in 1977. Puzzled over the decline—the basic laws of supply and demand did not compute in his brain—Carter blamed the oil companies for not producing more energy.

He further grudged them for not supporting his grandiose legislation, which called for everything from government-sponsored synthetic fuels and solar power to federal mandates on the energy efficiency of automobiles and even home appliances.

Carter’s dogged view was that Washington, D.C., was better at making energy decisions than actual energy producers in, say, Houston or Tulsa—and if the industry didn’t agree, well, then it should be investigated, even demagogued. (Never mind that as Breitbart News’ John Carney has documented, the ratio of prices at the pump to prices further up the supply chain has not changed–which is to say, there’s been no sudden gouging.)

Yet every opportunistic politician needs someone other than himself to blame, and Biden, a survivor these past five decades, is nothing if not an opportunist, and so now he’s attacking the energy companies.

And here’s where Carter neatly anticipated, by almost exactly 44 years, Biden’s just-sent letter to the FTC. In a White House press conference on October 13, 1977, Carter accused oil companies of “the biggest rip-off in history.”

He raged on at Exxon and others for a while longer, leaving The New York Times to report that Carter’s venom against the oil companies was also linked to his anger at fellow Democrats in Congress, who were not jumping to pass his energy bill:

Although he has spoken strongly before about the oil lobby’s role in the legislative process, Mr. Carter’s language today was the roughest he has used in the 38 weeks of his Presidency. It signaled the beginning of a White House offensive aimed at salvaging some of the energy proposals the Senate has either blocked or eviscerated in the last few weeks after the House largely adopted the Administration program.

Hmm. A Democratic president having trouble getting his too-ambitious legislation through a Democratic Congress—does any of that echo down to the president day?

Stepping back, we can see that Carter and Biden have had something in common: a faith that their government-centric policies are best.

And with that faith comes a curt dismissal of others’ ideas about energy, whether they come from Democrats (such as Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia in Carter’s day, or Sen. Joe Manchin, who now holds Byrd’s seat) or from Republicans.

The result of such presidential myopia is predictable. Like Mr. Magoo, the near-blind cartoon character, Mr. Carter, then, and Mr. Biden, now, stumble around unaware, until finally tumbling into a trap.

That trap, of course, is less energy supply, combined with higher energy prices. This is exactly what we suffered from in the Carter era and what we are suffering from again now in Biden times.

Given his mindset, there’s little chance that Biden will notice when lifelines are thrown in his direction. Interestingly, one of those lifelines is coming from the very energy companies that Biden wishes to see investigated, and perhaps prosecuted.

On November 16, Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum, volunteered that her company could produce more energy if it were allowed.

Speaking to CNBC, Hollub wondered aloud why Biden was asking the Arab-dominated OPEC oil cartel to produce more so that we could import more, while at the same time, he was restricting America’s ability to produce more.

As Hollub put it, “If I were gonna make a call, it wouldn’t be long-distance, it would be a local call.” She added, “And I think that we could do it more cheaply in the United States.”

For reasons having to do with classic-demagogic Democratic politics, combined with the newer green hostility to carbon fuels, Biden doesn’t want to get too close to American oil companies—not even if they can help him.

That’s his loss, although, of course, it’s our loss too for as long as he’s president. (And so some survival-minded Democrats in Congress are now distancing themselves from him on the energy issue; one such is Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who puts the blame on Biden, not Big Oil: “There’s a variety of contributing impacts, but certainly the buck stops with the President.”)

Interestingly, Biden is now tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as a way of bringing more oil to the market. (Yes, this appears to be a repudiation of the greens’ favored strategy of raising prices to shrink consumption, but that’s a tale of Biden’s last-ditch desperation that can be told another time.)

The SPR is an idea from the 70s; it was first filled, in fact, during the Carter administration.

And while tapping the SPR is not necessarily a bad idea, we can step back and see: Biden, like Carter before him, would rather play shell-games with limited reserves, already pumped and in storage than do anything that would genuinely increase long-term supply–namely, more energy exploration and production.

The real SPR is not some stash of oil controlled by bureaucrats, but rather, the reserves of energy all across the United States waiting to be drilled and mined. And yet it’s that overall energy capacity that Biden, as with Carter before him, has worked so hard to cripple.

This is a point made well by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA); we need less bureaucratic fiddling and more actual production:

The best way to lower gas prices is to continually invest in the U.S. energy industry so we don’t have to import energy from other countries when there is a supply shortage. Americans need long-term solutions to skyrocketing gas prices, not a band-aid fix.

Thus it’s highly unlikely that Biden will heed the words of North Dakota’s Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, who is also calling for more U.S. production:

We urge President Biden to work with North Dakota and other oil-producing states to continue to grow our domestic oil supply now, rather than taking it from future generations or buying it from foreign sources.

And across the partisan aisle, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was similarly caustic in his commentary on Biden’s SPR maneuverings.

Perhaps Biden is so enamored with Carter that he has buried the memory of what happened to his like-minded predecessor after just four years in office: He lost in a landslide to Reagan.

We might further recall that the new 40th president, in one of his first acts of office, abolished those counterproductive energy price controls, thus freeing up supply and ushering in the great economic boom of the 1980s.

Or maybe Biden has simply forgotten this history. So now it’s up to us to remember it.

Read in full at Breitbart

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