I watched Meet the Press this afternoon, and Senators Joe Biden and Lindsey Graham were on it. Joe Biden was defending Barack Obama and attacking John McCain, and he said some pretty provocative things (see Read the transcript).
First of all, Brian Williams referred to a February 17 quote by Hillary Clinton that questioned Obama’s flip-flop on receiving public financing. Here’s Biden’s response:
“I understand her words. She was competing against him. Were I, were I still in the race, I’d probably be raising it. But the essence, the honest to God truth is, he’s kept his commitment of keeping big money, individual influence, out of his campaign.”
Well, that’s pretty telling, isn’t it? Biden likes Obama because he’s kept big money out of his campaign, yet he’d be criticizing him if he (Biden) were still in the race? So Biden admits that he doesn’t always say what he means and mean what he says? He’s basically confessing that he’s dishonest?
Second, Graham and Biden talked about drilling for offshore oil. Graham said: “Why did the Democratic leadership send a letter to President Bush, to [tell] Saudi Arabia…to drill more? The Democratic solution here is tax at home and get Saudi Arabia to drill more. The supply they want comes from the Mideast. The supply John McCain wants is here at home to blunt the effect of dependency of Mideast oil.”
And Biden responded: “We’re not trying to get Saudi to drill more, we’re trying to get them to pump more of what they’re drilling. They’re not pumping what they could, number one. This is a gift, a gift to the oil companies by John McCain. They have now leased 41 million acres of offshore leases. They’re only pumping in 10.2 million of those acres. Seventy-nine percent of all the offshore oil available off the coast of Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Coast, the Pacific Coast, lies within those acres that they now have. Why are they not pumping? Why are they not doing this? Why are they not pursuing what’s estimated to be a total of 70–54 billion barrels of oil at their disposal right now if they pump? Why are these greedy fellows deciding they want to go beyond that? It’s because they want to get it in before George Bush leaves the presidency. It’s because they’re not pumping the oil to keep the price up. They are not even drilling. So here you have 30 million leased acres they have right now that possesses 79 percent of all the offshore, and they’re not drilling. And John says they need more? And it would take 10 years for it to come online.”
But, if the oil companies don’t even want to drill offshore, then why’s Biden against allowing them to do so?
Biden still raises a good question, though: Will the companies even want to drill and pump more in America, if they’re permitted? Or are they satisfied with the status quo, since higher prices mean more profits?
In a free market economy, competition should be bringing down the prices. Theoretically, a maverick company should be able to enter the equation, drill and pump in more areas, and offer the gasoline at lower prices, all in attempt to draw customers to itself. Then, the other companies would try to do the same, and the gas prices would come down. So why isn’t that happening?
Maybe the companies are all agreeing not to drill more, since that allows them all to reap high profits. Or perhaps there’s not a whole lot of competition, since there are only a handful of big oil companies that are even in the game. If a maverick company ever entered the equation, the big companies would drive it out of business, since they’d have the resources to pump more and charge lower prices. Then, after driving the maverick company out of business, they’d raise the prices back up. That would discourage maverick companies from even joining the game!
Of course, there’s the possibility that government policies favor the big companies and discourage competition. David Cay Johnston presents examples of that sort of thing, in Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill).