Question: Could the energy boom save President Donald Trump and the GOP in the 2018 midterms?
Answer: No. But it could go a long way toward producing the kind of robust economy that will help incumbent Republicans a year from November.
The energy boom is real and it is here to stay. (Disclosure: My firm represents oil and gas companies.) Energy production produces good jobs and low gasoline prices pump billions of dollars in cash into the economy, in real time. And with Trump directing large-scale deregulation, the anti-business climate in Washington is coming to an end — and the resulting energy boom is certain to make a difference in today’s economy.
Remember, at the end of the day, it is the economy that affects elections. Despite the recent wave of seemingly endless distractions and show-stopping unforced errors, Trump and the Republicans in Congress still do not have any problems that 4 percent GDP growth would not go a long way toward solving.
The good news is the benefits of robust American energy production are just beginning to be realized. As Stephen Moore explains, “Since 2015 when Republicans and Congress passed a law ending the oil and gas export ban, the U.S. has exported more than 150 million barrels of crude.” And due in part to Trump’s outlook for U.S. energy dominance, “we are now building liquefied gas terminals that will lead to sharp increases in exports of our abundant natural gas.”
Let’s not forget, the entire fracking revolution occurred while President Barack Obama wasn’t looking. Had he been paying attention, he would have been against it. After all, Democrats hate oil and gas. They even make a point of advertising that much on the campaign trail.
And today, as the Democrats march even further to the left, they continue to call for the “decarbonization” of the American economy despite the obvious benefits resulting from explosive energy production and exports and oil- and gas-related jobs. In December 2016, the Obama administration went so far as to publish a report, “United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization,” calling for “increasingly ambitious decarbonization policies” and “economy-wide net (greenhouse gas) emissions reductions of 80 percent or more below 2005 levels by 2050.”
Remember, as a presidential candidate, Obama famously declared that he wanted energy prices to go up. “Under my plan of a cap and trade system,” Obama argued, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Thankfully, Obama never envisioned cheap American natural gas.
For his part, Trump has tried to highlight what his administration is doing to usher in a new era of energy development that stands in stark contrast with the Democrats’ delusional taxpayer-subsidized fantasy of wind and solar, but those announcements have been mostly smothered by bizarre tweets and disinterested mainstream media outlets who have always been hostile to oil and gas development.
Even so, Trump deserves some credit for trying. Speaking at a Department of Energy event last week alongside the able, energy-friendly former governor of Texas - and now secretary of energy - Rick Perry, he announced six new initiatives that will help strengthen America’s energy sector and “propel this new era of American energy dominance.”
As the president noted, “This vast energy wealth does not belong to the government. It belongs to the people of the United States of America. Yet, for the past eight years, the federal government imposed massive job-killing barriers to American energy development.” Well said.
And oh, by the way, I’ve been traveling in Europe this week and have received an earful about Trump. Business people and political leaders wonder if he really means what he says. While that may be true on energy development, more challenges are on the horizon where he has less authority but ultimate responsibility. North Korea is on the brink, Russia is on the rise and our allies are nervous. This week’s Group of 20 meeting, combined with the latest missile launch in North Korea, could make July 2017 pivotal in the Trump presidency.