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Carnahan keeps focus on energy and oil in address to RCGA

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 4, 2010 - Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan touted her expertise as a tight-fisted businesswoman and as a farmer who "knows 'bull' when I see it" during her address today to members of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

She broke no new political ground in comments that appeared largely aimed at reassuring the Republican-leaning business community that Carnahan, a Democrat, wouldn't be a big spender if elected to the U.S. Senate this November.

She cited her business-related actions in the secretary of state's office, and what she's learned while running the Carnahan family's cattle ranch outside Rolla, Mo. (Carnahan did note that she resides with her husband in St. Louis.)

Carnahan didn't mention her best-known GOP rival, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, although she indirectly jabbed him for what she said was a mischaracterization of her views on energy issues -- most notably, the "cap and trade" energy bill now before the Senate after passing the House a year ago.

Carnahan said she agreed with critics that the energy bill, as currently worded, is too hard on coal-reliant states like Missouri and would force utility rates to skyrocket.

"It's unfair to stick it to the (American) consumers and raise taxes in one part of the country," she said.

But at the same time, "there's no doubt that we can't continue down this path of doing nothing," Carnahan said, referring to the United States' hefty consumption of oil -- much of it from foreign countries.

In the Middle East, "we're funding both sides of this war" against terrorism, she continued, because the U.S. is purchasing oil from the Middle East, with some of the money then finding its way to terrorists who then purchase weapons to attack American troops and the United States.

"We've got to have home-grown renewable energy that we control," she said.

Later, in a brief interview, Carnahan said the federal government should make sure that BP oil company "pay all the costs" related to the firm's huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Among other issues, Carnahan:

  • Supported the federal stimulus spending, at least the part that benefits the middle-class by sending money to schools to retain teachers and to local governments to prevent cuts in law-enforcement and public safety.
  • Labeled it "hypocritical" to spend billions in federal dollars to protect corporations, but then cut back on helping middle-class families.
  • Called for cuts in federal spending, largely by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Carnahan listed a number of her proposed changes in current federal practices that she said would save $700 billion over 10 years, and not cut any needed federal programs.
  • Opposed a value-added tax -- known as VAT -- that is levied like a sales tax on items and services. "It's something that sticks it to middle-class families and consumers," she said.
  • Reaffirmed her support of Social Security and Medicare for the elderly. Carnahan said some savings may need to be sought, but overall the programs are necessary for the elderly.
  • Endorsed the idea that justices on the U.S. Supreme Court should not be required to have been judges. President Barack Obama has nominated a lawyer with no judicial experience, Elena Kagan, for the latest Supreme Court vacancy.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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