McDermott on energy, Obama

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott is counting the days until President George W. Bush is out of office (it's 230 as of today, June 4), and he sounded optimistic in an interview last week that a Democrat will take the White House in the upcoming election.
"Then we're going to get to work," he said. There's a lot to do, according to the Queen Anne Democrat, who endorsed Barack Obama last month and describes Sen. John McCain as "Bush lite." Acknowledging that Democrats have held a majority in both houses lately, McDermott said that still wasn't enough.
"The Republicans made a decision that they were going to make this Congress not work," he said. "We had to take what we could get when we could get it." That didn't include health care for children, but it did include a one-year extension of the sales tax deduction, McDermott said.
With gas prices reaching the $4 mark and no end in increases in sight, he also takes aim at the oil industry and the industry's Republican supporters. Democrats, McDermott noted, tried to eliminate $14 billion in tax breaks for big oil and use the money for alternate energy sources such as solar and wind power.
"And the president vetoed it because he wouldn't take back this $14 billion we shouldn't have given to big oil anyway," he said. Democratic efforts to institute a windfall tax on oil profits similarly went nowhere because of Republican resistance, the congressman groused.
Oil companies have also balked at adding new refinery capacity over the years, blaming environmentalists for the lack of action, according to McDermott, who has another explanation. "They won't build new refineries because it would cut down on their profits."
A side effect of growing oil consumption is global warming, a problem that is accepted "intellectually" in the other Washington, McDermott said. "But the will to do anything about it is weak on the other side," he added, referring to Republicans.
McDermott and his wife both drive Priuses, but he complained the hybrid cars were on the streets of Tokyo for three years before they were available in this country. "And where was the marketing and vision of General Motors or anywhere else?" he asked.
The weak dollar and instability in oil-producing countries such as war-torn Iraq are also to blame for high gas prices, the Congressman said. He also blames America's record-breaking deficit on the war, and he dismisses the White House claim that America is bringing democracy to Iraq.
Instead, McDermott said, the real reason behind the war is oil. "We wanted control of it the day we moved in there," he added. "We wanted to be able to set the prices and make the profit."
But the United States has been unwilling to face the real cost of the war, according to McDermott. "I think we can be out in six months," he said, adding a caveat. Such a move would require the Iraqis to run their own country, the congressman said. "We don't want that."
McDermott also points to another problem with the war in Iraq. "We're making enemies who are going to be there for a long, long time." The war has also affected America's standing in the world, he said. "It's going to be very hard for us to re-establish our moral authority very quickly."
McDermott also slams the Veterans Administration for failing to treat a ballooning number of military personnel for post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. "It is going to be a huge, expensive problem," he said.
McDermott said he thought America was also going to invade Iran in 2006, ostensibly to "stir up anxiety" in the populace during that election cycle. "It didn't happen and I'm glad of that," he said, "but you still hear the drums (of war)." Invading Iran will be a real possibility if McCain is elected president, according to the congressman.
McDermott thinks Obama has a real shot at winning the presidency because he's energized three groups of constituents. The first is young voters. "In this thing, Barack has touched something in them. They've gotten out, and they're staying out there," he said.
The other two groups are women and African Americans, McDermott said. "And if the Democrats can harness the power of these groups, we're going to blow Republicans out of the water."[[In-content Ad]]