Obama Super PAC strikes back at ad attacking the president's energy record

Remember that gas price ad Barack Obama didn’t want you to see? You saw it anyway — and, thanks to a $3.6 million ad buy by the American Energy Alliance (the group behind the ad), so did viewers in the crucial swing states of Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia.

Because they can’t rebut the facts of the ad, Democrats continue with their attack-the-messenger strategy. Obama’s Super PAC, Priorities USA, today released an ad that links Mitt Romney to the U.S. oil industry:

The super PAC backing President Obama has joined an intensifying battleground state skirmish over high gas prices and oil company subsidies.

new TV ad by Priorities USA Action links Mitt Romney to the U.S. oil industry, which it claims has been underwriting the assault on Obama to defend billions of dollars in taxpayer cash.

“Who’s behind this ad smearing President Obama? Big Oil, that’s who,” says the narrator in the 30-second spot that’s airing in eight states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.

“The money they make from high gas prices – is going right into Mitt Romney’s campaign,” the ad says.

Romney opposes eliminating tax incentives and subsidies for the major U.S. oil companies, even as they have reported record profits in recent months.  Obama wants to end the practice and invest the money on development of renewable energy sources instead.

At issue here is not who is funding whose campaign, but whether the president’s energy policies have been a boon or a burden for the average U.S. energy consumer. Up to this point, they very clearly have been a burden. As he has rewarded his preferred energy producers and punished his least favorite producers, he has wasted taxpayer dollars and sacrificed the creation of badly-needed jobs.

The president’s repeated “solution” to high gas prices is to eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies. Even that suggestion — as welcome as it must be to those who oppose crony capitalism no matter who the cronies are — is hypocritical on the president’s part. He’s not proposing to eliminate energy subsidies; he’s simply proposing to eliminate subsidies for oil companies. Never mind that the tax code already favors expensive and unfeasible renewables over affordable and available oil as it is.

Furthermore, if the elimination of tax breaks for oil companies is unaccompanied by corporate tax reform to lower rates, oil companies actually have less incentive to lower prices. Their correct goal is to maximize profits: How would increasing the amount of money they must pay in taxes motivate them to lower prices?

Again, though, the Democratic rebuttal to the original ad by the American Energy Alliance has so far not included a defense of the president’s actual policies — just accusations that concerned energy producers are voting with their dollars for a candidate who wouldn’t punish their industry. As long as they do want to talk about who is funding whose advertising, then, why don’t we revive an old outrage? Remember when President Obama said Super PACs are a “threat to our democracy“? What makes Priorities USA different from any other Super PAC?