New Plan, Same as the Old Plan

So the new Bush energy plan (not, to be clear, the atrocious energy bill). It's not really bad, just kinda lame. I mean, yes, we do need to break through the impasses that are keeping nuclear energy plants and liquid natural gas terminals from being built. And the hybrid car subsidy is certainly a good thing. Neither am I really against constructing a few more refineries. But for a president who prides himself on bold strokes and towering ambition, this is kid's stuff. This is pecking your date on the cheek before drinking a warm glass of milk and going to bed. This ain't, in other words, shit.

The affordable oil's gonna run out, kids. Whether it's now or later, it's riding into the sunset as we speak. Bush says:

"Over the past decade, our energy consumption has increased by more than 12 percent, while our domestic production has increased by less than one-half of 1 percent," he added. "It's now time to fix it."

But even that overstates our abilities, Our production, after all, doesn't feed all our demand, we import vast amounts of energy. So 1% of demand growth is far larger than 1% of production growth -- so we're doing even worse than that quote lets on. Which is why it's so disappointing that, aside from building more nuclear plants and more LNG terminals (which really doesn't matter too much, as we're peppering Baja California with them anyway), Bush's plan does nothing to lessen our dependence on oil. Even the hybrid credit is minor, particularly when you consider the atrocious write-off businesses get for gas guzzlers when they claim them for professional use. Savings on a Porsche SUV top $33,000! Try getting that on your Honda Insight

There's nothing in Bush's speech about conservation, nothing about a major initiative to fund R&D, nothing about the need for Americans to try and cut their usage of gasoline, nothing, in fact, that'll have any long-term impact on the situation. What we have is a politician offering a pro forma response to a high gasoline prices, nothing more. There's no vision, long-term planning, or even new ideas in this proposal, and so it contains nothing to get excited over.

I've said it before, but liberals should be truly grateful -- from a political standpoint -- that Bush isn't a better politician. Where he smart, he'd schedule a major speech, announce that he's letting some of his tax cuts lapse and would be pouring the billions in savings into weaning us off foreign oil and pushing our economy towards a more sustainable perch. Massive subsidies for hybrids, financial assistance so Detroit can quickly develop hyper fuel-efficient vehicles, a well-funded R&D program, financial incentives for conservation, subsidies for renewables (like wind and solar), and so forth. If he did that, his numbers would shoot through the roof. As it is, he'll muddle along, with his deficiency in the vision department screwing not only the country, but himself.