Cheney says Bush is Powerless
Dick Cheney says that California made their bed and now they have to lay in it. This is a typical wealthy man's view of the world. The view is: "I did what I had to do and I made a lot of money and all of you who are not as well off as I am just did not work hard enough". It is a personal philosophy with Mr. Cheney and like all personal philosophies it bleeds over into one's job; in this case the Vice-Presidency of the United States.
There is no doubt that California made some monumental errors in judgment and those errors are now wreaking havoc. You cannot have free enterprise if you try to impose price caps on part of the distribution system. Price caps on part of the system will eventually cripple the entire system. California tried to put a price at the consumer level in regards to what the power companies could charge and yet did not put a price cap on the wholesalers from whom the power companies had to purchase power. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that in the long run the power companies were going to go broke.
Unfortunately, now the crisis in California is causing a ripple effect throughout the entire nation. We are all to some extent participants in the California crisis.
If Mr. Cheney would put on his thinking cap for a moment he would look at the California problem from the perspective of what can we learn. He would also consider that this is a problem that concerns us all and there is much to learn in hopes that other states will not succumb to the California energy dilemma.
More importantly as Americans we need to reach out to California and make adjustments that will ease their immediate problem.
I believe that in the long run California will have to repay those who step in to help them cope with its power shortage. But to virtually turn our backs on California and say there is nothing we can do is a cold callous attitude. And it comes from Mr. Cheney whose personal holdings in oil stock increases as the price of energy goes up: as does the stock of his friends. To say to California, "tough luck" and move on is not what is needed at this time.
I think what Mr. Cheney is saying is that the President of the United States, George W. Bush, does not have the ability to solve the energy crisis in California or does not have the desire to solve the problem in California. Personally I think it is some of each. I do not think the President has the ability to solve the problem and I think he feels his friends in the energy business are going to benefit more if California is left to flounder. If California is left to flounder, the price of energy continues to go up and the President's "drill a well in every back yard" will make sense to everyone.
For the President of the UNITED STATES through his Vice President to say that the other forty nine states are not interested in the energy problem in California is shocking and simply UnAmerican. We are all in this energy crisis together and hanging California out to dry as an example to other states is not the way for the President of the United States to handle this matter.
Senator Jeffers left the Republican party because of its determination to take a questionable victory in the last Presidential election and turn it into a mandate to govern from the political right. The President did not see the monumental repercussions that could come from a defecting Senator and in the same week through Vice President Cheney says that there is nothing that he, the President, can do for California. This is a lack of leadership in the most powerful political office in the world and it is a cause for concern.
In the final analysis, there is an immediate solution for California's rolling black outs. The solution means that other Americans are going to have to sacrifice a little to help California a lot. It means that the energy companies are going to have to take in a little less profits. It means the President is going to have to lead as opposed to putting his hands in his pocket as he walks away saying "good luck California".
May 26, 2001
Cheney Says Govovernment Cannot Help California This Summer
By H. JOSEF HEBERT
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (May 25) - Vice President Dick Cheney said Friday that nothing more can be done to help solve California's power problems this summer.
He criticized the state for not taking steps sooner to fix a flawed electricity market.
''They knew years ago they had a problem,'' Cheney said at an energy conference for small business. ''They postponed taking action because all of the action was potentially unpleasant.''
The vice president's assessment came as Democrats and Republicans in Congress tried to work out a compromise on legislation to bring some relief to California this summer. President Bush plans to visit the state next week and meet with Gov. Gray Davis to discuss the issue.
A group of West Coast Democrats, in a letter to Bush on Friday, urged him to use his trip to California to respond to the Western energy crisis.
It ''is a problem that only federal intervention can solve,'' said the Democrats from California, Oregon and Washington. They urged Bush to call on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to impose temporary price controls on wholesale power markets in the West.
Cheney, addressing a U.S. Chamber of Commerce energy conference, said, ''The bottom line is there isn't anything that can be done short-term to produce more kilowatts this summer.'' He also rejected price controls, saying they have added to the lack of an adequate power supply.
Davis has sharply criticized the Bush administration for opposing temporary price controls to reduce record high wholesale electricity prices across the West.
Cheney said this week's upheaval in the Senate, with a shift from GOP to Democratic control, ''can conceivably have an impact'' on getting much of the administration's long-range energy plan approved.
Still, he said he thinks the administration can make progress on the energy package unveiled last week. He acknowledged it would be easier if Republicans had remained in control of the Senate.
Cheney outlined key points of the energy package before several hundred people, many of them entrepreneurs from across the country, at an energy conference sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Asked by a Californian what the federal government could do to lower power costs that have gone from $7 billion in 1999 in California to $40 billion over the last 12 months, Cheney reiterated his opposition to price controls.
''We think that's a mistake,'' he said, contending that part of California's energy problem today is the result of price caps put in place a few years ago.
While acknowledging that California's attempt to deregulate its electricity market had bipartisan support, Cheney suggested that Davis, a Democrat, added to the problem by not seeking retail price hikes sooner. ''We're now in a situation where the prices have to go up anyway,'' he said.
California in 1996 allowed its wholesale electricity markets to be deregulated, but continued controls on retail prices, leaving major utilities unable to pass on their high costs. Only recently have state regulators imposed sharp increases, as high as an 80 percent hike on retail prices.
Democrats in both the House and Senate argue the Western energy markets are broken and rife with manipulation by a small number of energy companies, many of which are based in Texas and support the president.
They maintain price controls can be crafted in such a way as to allow companies to still make substantial profits and increase supplies. They claim generators now are holding back power to force up prices - allegations denied by the companies.
A bill before the House Energy and Commerce Committee is aimed at bringing some help to California this summer, its sponsors say. But progress on the bill has bogged down over disagreement on the price cap issue.
The legislation cleared a subcommittee May 10 on a 17-13 party-line vote without a provision to cap wholesale electricity prices as Democrats had wanted. Both parties were trying to work out a compromise on price caps Friday, but Democrats said no progress was made.
''We are obviously frustrated,'' declared House minority leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., who accused Republicans of bottling up the legislation in committee.