Wyden Filibuster? And a trip to NH?

Yesterday, Senator Ron Wyden held up action in the US Senate demanding a vote on whether oil companies should continue to receive massive government subsidies in the light of record profits. (Oregonian coverage; BlueOregon coverage)

"I would stay here all night," Wyden said. "I would stay here until they literally had to take me off the floor because I couldn't stay here any longer, to save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars on what amounts to the biggest giveaway -- the biggest giveaway -- to the oil industry."

Last weekend, Senator Wyden made a tour of New Hampshire - a story broken first in Oregon by the blog Loaded Orygun (and still unreported by the Oregonian.)

There's usually only one reason that US Senators travel to the first presidential primary state. Apparently, that's not the case this time:

Wyden isn't waiting around for Congressional buy-in to pitch his [tax reform] plan. His trip last week to Bedford was designed to place the issue of tax reform into the minds of Hampshirites, in the hopes that an electorate primed and ready to discuss the issue, will force potential Presidents to address it as well...

From the coverage of the Manchester Union-Leader:

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, deputy Democratic leader in the New Hampshire Senate, said that making tax reform a reality could turn Wyden into a rising Democratic star who may one day be visiting the Granite State on the campaign trail.

“He was very articulate on the issues and has a very Mr. Smith-like quality to him,” D’Allesandro said. “These changes in the tax code make a lot of sense to me, and if he were to pass something revolutionary like this, that would be his ticket.”


  • DAN GRADY (unverified)


    Sure, sure, we love to hate the oil companies, and when the House & Senate is retaken, a windfall tax is certainly in the cards.

    I want to know when the Senator is going to step up and sign the resolution censor the President, when is he going to jump into the fight with both feet?

    I want to know why any politician in this Congressional Cycle wants to be seen hesitating for worrys over what the Republican Mean Message Machine has to say. I would want to be the candidate the Republicans scream and smear the most. Free Advertising.

    The writing is on the wall. Stand up, and face the enemy. The time has come to make your stand for a progressive agenda of public financed elections, restoration of our government agencies, and the end of the Patriot Act, NSA spying on Americans, and the overreaching of the Executive Branch to create a hybrid office of the Unitary Executive.

    Russ Feingold and Al Gore should be at the front of our message, as everything the Republicans lied about smearing these men, reality has debunked with consequences so the public won't be fool with again.

    Happy Thoghts;

    Dan Grady

  • anonymous (unverified)

    "I would stay here all night," Wyden said. "I would stay here until they literally had to take me off the floor because I couldn't stay here any longer...."

    So Senator Grandstand...why didn't you? Were the TV cameras' batteries running low? A 4-hour filibuster? Pitiful! I am sure those fat cat oil execs were quaking in their pools of profit.

  • betty (unverified)

    I saw Oregonian story last week about Wyden's tax plan. I'm glad it's getting some national play. He's becoming a real mover and shaker on the national level.

    When you take into consideration his seat on the Finance Committee (a committee he elbowed his way onto in front of a lot more prominent Dems) he's in a good position to get attention for his proposal. That committee has jurisdiction over tax policy.

    Did y'all hear his interview on the Diane Rehm show a while back? I got calls from friends in several states who heard him and thought he was good.

    BTW, I thought his filibuster was great. It’s not like he’s never jumped into the gas price issue – this is just one of many things he's done over the years… so you know he’ll keep it up. There is no silver bullet to regulate BIG OIL. Ron's been fighting them for a long time - before all the newspapers were paying attention.

  • babs (unverified)

    Hey, Anonymous - let's get the full story out here. According to the Washington Post:

    "At about the same time over in the Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked to be recognized -- and refused to yield the floor for four hours and 40 minutes. His goal: to shame senators into killing billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies. After hours without food or a trip to the bathroom, Wyden's forehead was growing shiny and his speech repetitive. Even Harry Reid (Nev.), the Democratic leader, pleaded for mercy.

    "I think the senator from Oregon has clearly established that you will not get a vote on this most important amendment; I'm disappointed," Reid said. "I would say, though, to the distinguished senator from Oregon that there are a number of senators here who wish to try to offer amendments."

    "I would just say that I would stay here all night," Wyden replied. "I would stay here until they literally had to take me off the floor because I couldn't stay here any longer. . . ."

    This was not the answer Reid was looking for. "I reiterate through the distinguished chair to the senator from Oregon that the point's been made," he said.

    That’s right; Wyden got pulled from the floor by his own leadership. Have you ever stood for 5 hours straight, with no bathroom breaks and no support, talking almost continuously the whole time? I think he succeeded just fine in making this an issue and getting everyone’s attention, thank you!

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    I agree with Senator Wyden on his point, and most of us probably do, but he, Cantwell and others are missing the point of supply and demand. The U.S. hasn't been pertroleum self sufficent for decades, which we figured out (well, apparently many did not or have forgotten) in the early 70's. We made great progress on fuel efficiency, until the SUV market explode a decade or so ago. Senator Wyden should use his position on Finanace to take away the misused tax break for SUV's (last I knew it was still on the books) and work with McCain, kerry and otehrs to increase CAFE standards. It's up to consumers to change, though, and, sadly, high gas prices might be the only way that happens. I read that in 2006, the Toyata Corolla (I"m proud to drive it's twin, the Chevy Prizm) is the only non-hybrid that gets over 30 mpg. How patheitc. Sooner or later, people are going to wake up and realize that we need to conserve. We also need more options so that we don't have to drive so much. Although cities like Boston, NY, and DC have great rail systems, many cities, especially western cities like Seattle, LA, and Denver, are light years behind on mass transit. I wish that more politicans would show the wisdom on conservation that Jimmy Carter, Jerry Brown, Neil Goldschmidt (give him credit where it's due) and others did in the 1970's. Whining about high gas prices might get press coverage, but it gets our country nowhere.

  • (Show?)

    Wow,Wyden forces the country to see the corruption of the Republicans in the Senate who refuse to make the oil companies pay the royalties they should and all this group can do is whine that he hasn't solved every problem our country faces today. We should be thanking him for forcing the spotlight on the incredible oil company rip-offs of our national treasury. Remember that the Bush energy program from last year that he claimed would reduce the price of gas was based upon giving out billions of tax subsidies to the oil companies. Sure they really needed more money to drill for oil. Not!

    Thank you Ron.

  • Suzii (unverified)

    No, I'm sorry, anybody who can't solve all the country's problems in an afternoon just isn't trying.

  • Garlynn (unverified)


    I'd have to agree with you on one point: The gov't isn't doing a very good job of forcing auto makers to continuously improve gas mileage.

    Case in point: SATURN

    In 2000, I bought a Saturn SL-2, which to this day still gets 38mpg hwy, 31mpg city.

    Two years later, it got replaced by the ION, which gets 35mpg hwy, 28 city.

    SIX years later, and Saturn STILL doesn't have a car on offer that gets better gas mileage than the SL-series, which has technology that dates to the early 90s.

    WHY don't cars get better gas mileage? The answer is because the government isn't regulating the industry and FORCING auto manufacturers to produce cars with better mileage. Anybody who tells you something about the market is full of crap. Just like urban sprawl, the market has nothing to do with it. It is government regulation which causes cars to get low gas mileage, and it is government regulation that causes sprawl.

    Will the Democrats fix the gas mileage issue? I'm not very confident in their ability to do so. Right now at the federal level, they seem to be pandering to complaints about the high cost of gas, rather than taking the opportunity to sieze the soap-box and advocate for greater fuel economy as well as smarter growth patterns that cluster development near transit and jobs.

    So... given all this... what do we do?

  • Grant Schott (unverified)


    Yes the government needs to play a bigger role, but we can't let consumers off the hook in a free market economy. Take a look at what people are driving, and most seem to be going for the gas guzzlers over the economy cars that do exist. Even a lot of progessives and "environmentalists" are culprits. I recall that a few years ago, the City of Portland's lobbyist was driving a city SUV to Salem.

  • Andrew Tunall (unverified)

    Maybe its time we elected another Democratic U.S. Senator from Oregon to stand up there with Ron Wyden, then the headline would be: Oregon Senators Take On Oil Companies.

    Hopefully by then we'll even have our wave power generation plant experiment online on the south coast.


  • Michael M. (unverified)

    Garlynn -- I couldn't disagree more. The answer to your question is because gas prices are too low. Make lazy, wasteful American consumers actually pay a fair market price for the damage they wreak upon the environmental and the political landscape, and you'll see auto manufacturers producing cars with better mileage.

    I moved here from New York City almost a year ago and it astonishes me how geared this area is to the automobile. And Portland actually has a reasonable public transportation system. I'm finding I can usually get most places I need to go without the need of a car (which I don't own). Yet almost everywhere in the region except the heart of downtown is set-up for easy automobile access vs. easy pedestrian access. Compared to NYC, Portland is pretty pedestrian-unfriendly, but then many American cities are. I guess I just expected more here. It's incongruous to hop over to the local Trader Joe's and see well-off shoppers painstakingly choosing organic this and fair-market that, then going outside and load all their politically correct purchases into their Ford Enormous SUVs that get 12mpg. The best way to fix the problem is not through more ineffective government regulation, but through market pricing that makes people pay for their chosen lifestyles. Let the oil companies bask in their windfalls while they last -- they won't last any longer than it takes ordinary people to wake up and realize they no longer wish (or can afford) to contribute.

  • Scott McLean (unverified)

    Senator Wyden has done an outstanding job in the U.S. Senate standing up for Oregonians, which is refreshing because most Senators seem more concerned with special interests.

    Senator Wyden would be a great presidential candidate. He is known for holding town hall meetings all over the state of Oregon. He listens to regular folks, and that is impressive if you ask me.

  • John Forbes (unverified)

    Wyden also is a urban liberal, not overly telegenic, and far beind the like of Senators CLinton, Biden, Kerry, Bayh, ect... on the presidential scale for senators. Senators tend to be behind VPs and governors. Senator Wyden has always been an ambitious and effective legislator. Presidential possibility? I highly doubt it, and few Oregonians have been. Mark Hatfiled and Wayne Morse probably had what it took, and Morse made a half hearted run in 1960, but few remember. I also can't forget the KOIN TV pop quiz in '95 and how Wyden's 20 point lead over DeFazio shrank to 5% on primary election night. Wyden did, however, some from behind to beat Smith, but it wasn't a John Edwards '98 type performance that caused the like of David Broder and Chris Matthew to take notice.

  • (Show?)
    <h2>Ah yes... the KOIN pop quiz. That's become a staple of politics all around the country now. Another Oregon "innovation."</h2>
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