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Politics

The Esoteric President

Esoteric writing, I hardly need remind many NLT readers, is a form of writing in which the writer appears to be saying one thing, but in fact, is saying another.  This technique often involves writing in such a way that the words, on the surface, suggest one conclusion, even as the underlying logic, if we follow it, suggests another.  Most people, experience shows, don't bother following the logic closely. It's too much work.

This post by Roy Cordato on Obama's energy policy reminded me of that idea. The President proposes to elimate "'subsidies' for fossil fuels."  Cordoto notes that that's open to question. The "subsidies" are not exactly what they seem. "In reality, to allow expensing of these payments is not a subsidy. It avoids the imposition of a tax penalty on oil drilling and is an example of how all production costs should be treated by the tax code."

"The immediate expensing of costs," Cordato argues, "puts all investment spending on an equal footing and ensures that the tax treatment of investments is consistent with sound economic principles of taxation."  And he summarizes. "So Obama, in proposing to eliminate expensing of these drilling costs, is not abolishing a tax subsidy, but is imposing a tax penalty. And, given his often-articulated disdain for fossil fuels, he is probably quite aware of this fact."

I am reminded of Obama's comment, when he was a candidate about his policy with regard to coal power.  There, his pride seems to have gotten the better of him, and he let the mask slip: "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted."

In light of his clear preference for a single-payer health system, it is not unreasonable to speculate that he favors health reforms of the same sort.

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