Why Rick Perry's Energy Plan Might be a Game-Changer

The United States of America is in a bad way fiscally. The US Treasury reports:

that the U.S. deficit for the fiscal yearended September 30 is $1.29 trillion, the second largest in history (after 2009).

The national debt is $14.8 trillion. Our GDP is $14.9 trillion.

The financial crisis of 2008 reached critical mass almost precisely three years ago. And in Washington, the band plays on.

It doesn't have to be this way. The band in Washington isn't really playing on; they took their hands off their musical instruments and put them around the country's economic throat years ago. We are by talent and resources among the richest nations on earth, and by our political freedoms, far and away the greatest. But for going on 30 years now, while we have spent more money that we take in, we have chosen to put much of our natural wealth off limits. That choice has led in direct and indirect ways to the straits we find ourselves in now, at the mercy of some of the world's worst actors to fuel our economy, and on the precipice of bankruptcy. The current president has taken just about every negative fiscal trend and choice and accelerated them. The best line about Obama is simple: He made it all worse. He has made it harder for us to exploit our natural wealth, by making more of it off-limits and by using regulations to make it either too difficult or even illegal to tap. Whether he believes he had noble reasons or not is irrelevant; the effect of Obama's actions is that everything is more expensive, jobs are more scarce and America is less secure.

In his energy plan, Perry shows that he understands all of this, and will fix the problem.

Let's put the impact of getting America back into energy production in a serious way, in personal terms. In better times you had a job, and you bought a house and a car and other stuff. You bought some of that on the promise of paychecks coming tomorrow, but then the job went away and so the did paychecks, and your credit got some black eyes before your lines get cut altogether. Then the bank comes around telling you that foreclosure is imminent unless something changes.

Then you get a job, but not just any job -- a stable job that pays better than the one you lost. The bank takes a look at the change in your situation, and the check that you can now write to start paying down your debt, and calls off the foreclosure, and even extends your credit anew. Your nightmare isn't over immediately, but it starts fading pretty quickly.

Energy powers the economy. Nations that can produce energy possess real wealth, if they can exploit it. Getting the US back into energy production in a serious way would probably have similarly broad effects to your getting the stable and well-paying job. Our downgraded credit gets upgraded again because we're making rational choices about the lifeblood of the economy again. Obama's push to a green economy was not rational; that technology isn't ready to power an economy of our size yet and won't be for a long time. So we become rational economic actors again by unleashing our energy sector. Increased supply pushes energy prices down, which helps every family and business in the country, which broadens the tax base, which helps alleviate the deficit (if spending is brought back into sane levels). Energy producers like Venezuela and Russia have to respond to the new American competition with expanded production, or price cuts, or both. So energy prices get more downward pressure. America's stepped up production helps bring market forces to bear on the global economy in a good way.

And to the extent that Hugo Chavez and Vlad Putin and the mullahs born atop lakes of oil have lighter wallets, they're less of a security menace to us. We're more energy independent, and more secure as a nation. Unless you're a wild-eyed leftist or one of the .083 Percenters who evidently don't have a clue, those are obviously good things.

In Gov. Perry's plan to deregulate, expand exploration and drilling, and defang the regulatory state, you have a plan that may help refocus the Republican primary away from trivia and back towards real policy and making rational choices that actually benefit the nation. Romney has already reacted with a press release saying that his jobs plan is better than Perry's. That's debatable, but that's the debate we should be having.

Perry's plan also has in it the makings of bringing America back. That's pretty big, and very good.