President Obama is adept at rewarding those who put him into office. And hard-left financier George Soros is emerging as a leader of the patronage pack.
A payback to Soros was due. As the chief moneyman behind left-wing political action committees like MoveOn.org, Soros, an early supporter of Obama, played an instrumental role in drumming up voter mobilization and political advertising on the novice candidate's behalf. In no small part, Obama's triumph in the Democratic primary over better-known rivals was a testament to Soros's deep pockets and his political commitment.
Now it's time for Soros to collect on his investment. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Obama administration has committed up to $10 billion to Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance oil exploration off of Brazil's coast.
Yet Obama historically has opposed expanded oil drilling. This was not only a strategic decision, aimed at pleasing the environmental Left, but also a personal choice, since Obama sincerely believes that drilling is deeply destructive to the natural environment. Thus, as a Senator, Obama voted against permitting the U.S. to drill for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the grounds that it would be a crime to despoil such "beautiful real estate." Similarly, during last year's presidential campaign, he warned of the "environmental consequences" of oil drilling, and insisted that "we cannot drill our way out of the [energy] problem."
But apparently George Soros can. The president has elected to help another nation with the same type of drilling that he opposes so vehemently for this country, and the reason seems to be Soros's $811-millon investment in Petrobras. The company just happens to be the largest holding in Soros's investment fund. Soros's connection to the company is no secret; he has been investing in Petrobras since 2007. A profitable venture, Petrobras has estimated recoverable reserves for the so-called Tupi oil field of between 5 and 8 billion barrels. With his billion-dollar loan, Obama has taken patronage politics to striking new level.
The Petrobras loan may be a windfall for Soros and Brazil, but it is a bad deal for the US. The administration is prepared to lend up to $10 billion to a foreign company to drill off its coast, when it could bring in $1.7 trillion in government revenue, as well as create thousands of new jobs, by allowing drilling off the coast of the United States.
This is no empty speculation. The American Petroleum Institute estimates that oil exploration in the U.S. could create 160,000 new, well-paying jobs, as well as $1.7 trillion in revenues to federal, state, and local governments, all while fostering greater energy security. Federal data from the Minerals Management Service of the U.S. Department of Interior says the U.S. has enough oil and natural gas to fuel more than 65 million cars for 60 years, and enough natural gas to heat 60 million homes for 160 years. In fact, the government estimates that there are 30 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil on federal lands currently closed to development. But rather than investing in the country's energy future, the administration seems to be offering an expensive kickback to a political ally in a time of economic recession and high unemployment.
The oil deal stinks for other reasons, as well. For instance, there is the rank hypocrisy of Soros -- an enthusiastic proponent of global warming theory and environmental liberalism -- investing in the fossil fuels whose use he otherwise condemns -- and doing so in part with the aid of taxpayer funds. For years, Soros has urged the adoption of a global carbon tax that would punish companies that contribute to global warming. But that didn't prevent him from plowing money into Petrobras.
The cozy Soros-Obama alliance goes beyond favorable oil deals. It's also playing a role in the health care debate. Huge demonstrations dedicated to enacting Obama's universal health care are largely a Soros-financed operation. When tens of thousands of people rallied in the nation's capital in support of Obama's health care plan, the demonstrations were organized by Health Care for America Now! (HCAN), a new national grassroots movement of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states encompassing 30 million people dedicated to winning health reform now.
The "grassroots" organization appears to be more like a gang of interconnected ultra-liberal pressure groups. Among the 21 members of its steering committee are such Soros-funded groups as ACORN, MoveOn.org, and the Center for American Progress (CAP), headed by Clinton former chief of staff John Podesta, who also has been a key adviser to Obama. Soros's charity, the Open Society Institute, in 2007 gave CAP $1.75 million and approved added grants of $1.25 million.
Obama's collusion with Soros and his agenda-driven squadrons is an unfortunate turn from an administration that entered office promising unprecedented transparency in the White House. Soros certainly did his share for Obama. Now, with his backing for a billion-dollar oil loan to a Brazilian company, the president has proven more generous to Soros than to the American voters who put him in office.
By Tait Trussell