Wash Post's Will echoed right-wing attacks on Clinton's proposal to tax oil profits


In his April 5 Washington Post column, George Will wrote that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) February 1 speech at the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) 2007 Winter Meeting "reveals her confiscatory itch," citing her proposal "to take" the oil industry's record profits and " 'put them into a Strategic Energy Fund that will begin to fund alternative, smart energy ... that will begin to actually move us towards the direction of [energy] independence.' " Will continued: "Her clunky 'toward the direction of' suggests that she actually knows that independence is as chimerical a goal as Soviet grain production goals were."

Will's references to "Soviet grain production goals" and Clinton's purported "confiscatory itch" echo previous attacks by conservatives regarding Clinton's comments at the DNC Winter Meeting. As Media Matters for America previously noted, a February 21 guest commentary (subscription required) for the website InsightMag.com claimed that Clinton's comments "finally show[ed] her true color ... red as in Lenin. ... Red as in if you are successful I will confiscate your property and, because I know how to utilize it better than you do, society will be better off. Red as in communism."

Media Matters also noted that on the February 2 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron said that Clinton's "pledge to take oil company profits and put them into an energy fund" is "an idea not likely to go over well with capitalists." Cameron's comment was cited in a Republican National Committee "research briefing" on Clinton under a section headlined, "Hillary Proposed Seizing American Oil Industry Profits."

Prior to her February 1 remarks, Clinton, in a May 23, 2006, speech at the National Press Club, unveiled a plan that she said would "reduc[e] our dependence on foreign oil by at least 50 percent by 2025." A press release accompanying her speech stated that her proposal provides for levying a "temporary fee" upon oil company "profits that exceed a 2000-2004 profit baseline." In her May 2006 speech, Clinton proposed instituting this tax "over the next two years" on oil companies that "reap huge benefits from unexpectedly high energy prices." According to the press release, the companies would "be required to pay a portion of their profits into the strategic energy fund," which would invest in alternative energies. The press release also stated that this "temporary fee," combined with "eliminat[ing] oil company tax breaks" and "ensur[ing] that oil companies pay their fair share of royalties for drilling on public lands," would "raise more than $50 billion to fund research, development and deployment of energy technologies that will reduce America's oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions."

From Will's April 5 column:

The next wave of stories about "soaring" gas prices will predictably trigger some politicians' indignation about oil companies' profits. The day after Exxon Mobil's announcement that it earned $39.5 billion in 2006, Hillary Clinton said: "I want to take those profits, and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy, alternatives and technologies that will begin to actually move us toward the direction of independence."

Clinton's "take" reveals her confiscatory itch. Her clunky "toward the direction of" suggests that she actually knows that independence is as chimerical a goal as Soviet grain production goals were.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes, Environment & Science, Energy
The Washington Post
George F. Will
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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