This video commentary by Dickinson Press editor Dustin Monke is pretty great.
In it he addresses President Barack Obama’s proposed $10 per-barrel tax on oil production (which, as I’ve pointed out previously, would amount to about a $4.2 billion tax on North Dakota based on current production levels), something he calls an attempted “killing blow” against the oil industry.
“This isn’t a tax aimed at building roads or creating self driving cars like the president says,” Monke tells us. “It’s an ego trip, wrapped around a radical agenda, that the majority of Americans don’t even agree with.”
He’s got a point. I can’t imagine that even the most extreme of anti-oil activists would be comfortable with the impact that sort of tax would have on our cost of living. It would be enormous, and the economic impact ugly.
Which brings up an interesting point.
Monke points out that President Obama has spent very little time talking about the economic impact of oil development in America. This is ironic, because it’s likely that economic impact which allowed Obama to get re-elected in 2012.
I’m not sure that Obama gets elected to another term if the economy hadn’t stabilized toward the end of his first term. As this chart from MSNBC shows, America had steady (if at times somewhat anemic) job growth starting in late 2010:
But why did the economy stabilize? The surge in energy industry jobs – including shale oil and gas booms in places like North Dakota – had a lot to do with it. If you take energy jobs out of the picture, the rest of the national economy looks ugly.
Check out this graph from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which compares energy sector jobs to the rest of the economy through 2012:
One of those lines is not like the other.
This outsized energy industry impact on the national economy has begun to show up in the way we talk about consumer-level energy prices. During the Bush years, a free-fall in gasoline prices would have been a cause for national celebration. The stock market would be soaring. The media would be full of headlines about Americans enjoying lower-cost goods and travel.
Over the last two years the average price of gasoline nationally has dropped more than 54 percent, yet the celebration is muted.
That’s because the reason for the drop is the cratering of oil prices which were driving the only really strong part of our national economy.
The very part Obama wants to kick in the teeth with a $10-per-barrel tax. Ego trip, indeed.