Mother Jones has jumped on Obama for what may be the first “reneged promise” of his campaign: assigning a windfall tax to the profits raked in by Big Oil. According to MJ blogger Nick Baumann, a transition team staffer:
The President-elect’s transition team hasn’t explicitly announced it will drop the windfall tax plan, but a transition aide, commenting on the condition he not be identified, backed off the promise in an email. “President-elect Obama announced the [windfall profits tax] policy during the campaign because oil prices were above $80 per barrel,” he said. “They are currently below that now and expected to stay below that.”
Advocacy groups like the American Small Business League—which noticed almost immediately when the discussion of windfall taxes was removed from Obama’s Web site—are bemoaning the fallen tax as a disappointment, while economists (and common sense) note that it now seems far less necessary given that it would bring in substantially less money today than four months ago.
Still, the fact that this debate has arisen at all, before Obama has even taken office, is a testament to the dangers (or maybe just necessary consequences) of using technology for increased government transparency.
Watchdog groups can now police the Internet for early indications of a policy change, and leap on something as (seemingly) small as a single proposal to publicize a decision from the administration. Of course, the fact that Obama’s people are promptly removing now-dead proposals from the site in the first place is a pretty reassuring testament to the operation’s integrity as a whole.