Vice presidential candidates Sen. Joe Biden (Dem.) and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (Rep.) matched wit and guile in the vice presidential debate in St. Louis, sparring over topics as the economy, the war on terror and energy. The one thing they didn't disagree on: oil and gas exploration and production companies are greedy and should give up most of their profits. Say it ain't so, Sarah. We expect it from the Democrats, as presidential candidate Sen. Barak Obama has pitched a "windfall" profits tax as part of his platform for months. Biden continued the rhetoric by often alluding to "another $4 billion tax cut for ExxonMobil" throughout the debate. ExxonMobil, for the record, which has become the symbolic whipping boy of the energy industry, employs 82,000 people and enjoys a modest 10% profit margin, if that can be called windfall. Biden congratulated Palin on implementing a windfall profits tax in Alaska. "That's what Barack Obama and I want to do. We want to be able to do for all of you Americans---give you back $1,000---like she's been able to give back money to her folks back there." The disturbing part is Palin didn't engage Biden on this issue at all. In fact, she bragged about how she had to "take on those oil companies and tell them 'No.' Greed ...wasn't going to happen in my state. That's why (Rex) Tillerson at Exxon and (Jim) Mulva at ConocoPhillips, they're not my biggest fans." Because it's true. Biden pegged her. According to the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Alaska collected some $6 billion from a new tax imposed in 2007 on barrels produced on state lands, more than doubling state revenues from oil and gas production. Ironically, the taxes were enacted by a Republican legislature and a Republican governor. According to ConocoPhillips, as reported in the Seattle Times, the state now collects some 75% of every barrel. And, surprise, oil and gas investment is moving elsewhere, such as the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Such policy proposals from the Democrats are anticipated, who have long campaigned on wealth redistribution. We don't expect it from the Republican candidate, whose party platform has long campaigned on less government involvement and free markets. Says Biden: "John McCain will not support a windfall profits tax." And thank goodness, in spite of his VP's conservative sins. Seattle Times: Windfall tax lets Alaska rake in billions from Big Oil: While Congress and the presidential candidates debate the wisdom of a windfall tax on oil companies, Alaska has already imposed one, hauling in billions of dollars in new revenue for the state treasury. Steve Toon, Editor, A&D Watch; Contributing Editor, Oil and Gas Investor; www.OilandGasInvestor.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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