GOP Rep. Carter Declares Support For Norwegian Socialism

May 11, 2011 11:48 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

Like many conservative lawmakers, Rep. John Carter (R-TX) has often used the phrase "government takeover" to deride President Obama's health care law. But last night on the House floor, Carter came dangerously close to endorsing an actual government takeover of American energy production. Arguing in favor of increased oil drilling to address high gas prices, Carter cited Norway as an example of a country that the U.S. should emulate: 

CARTER: The thing is we don't know — we all speculate to some extent — but I think it's [a] pretty easy commonsense position to take that the more supply we have with the demand — we are the demand capital of the world on burning gasoline and diesel. We outshine anyone else on the face of this globe in the use of those products. And we have relatively cheap prices as compared to other countries — especially countries that have no production. They can get very expensive very quickly. Until very recently, there was no oil or gas at all to amount to anything in what we now call Western Europe. Today there is. They have found it offshore, they have found it on the land in Holland and Norway and other places. Norway's one of the — something like the third biggest producer of offshore oil in the world now. They're doing extremely well and running their economy in a very frugal manner. Very smart people.  And they should be commended. We should do so good.


It's true that Norway drills offshore, but Carter is leaving out an important piece of information: the Norwegian oil industry is owned primarily by the state. (Drilling also has not shielded Norway from sky-high gas prices.) 

Carter also extolled the Norwegians for "running their economy in a very frugal manner," calling them "very smart people" who "should be commended." However, while Norway largely avoided the brunt of the global recession, the business magazine Inc. recently described the country as something of a socialist utopia: 

Welcome to Norway, where business is radically transparent, militantly egalitarian, and, of course, heavily taxed. This is socialism, the sort of thing your average American CEO has nightmares about. [...]

Every Norwegian worker gets free health insurance in a system that produces longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates than our own. At age 67, workers get a government pension of up to 66 percent of their working income, and everyone gets free education, from nursery school through graduate school. (Amazingly, this includes colleges outside the country. Want to send your kid to Harvard? The Norwegian government will pick up most of the tab.) 

If a Democrat stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and heaped praise on the Norwegian economic model, which is far to the left of anything proposed by the Obama administration, conservative lawmakers and pundits would be up in arms. Yet, somehow, we expect Carter will get a free pass.