The Obama campaign is trying to hang so-called “vulture” capitalism around Mitt Romney’s neck, but as two excellent opinion pieces explain, it’s the administration’s crony capitalism that’s the really disturbing story.
I have previously discussed how multiple levels of government work together to provide businesses with taxpayer money (see here and here). And while Republican policymakers have enjoyed making political hay out of the Obama’s administration’s Solyndra problem, the truth is that both parties are willing partners in the corporate welfare racket.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing last week on the Department of Energy’s budget request for fiscal 2013. Chris Edwards tipped me off to a particularly galling exchange between Energy secretary Steven Chu and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Sen. Franken uses his allotted time to badger Chu about a federal loan that Energy conditionally committed to a Minnesota company in 2010 that apparently has yet to be approved.
The president’s fiscal 2013 budget includes a 213 page document that contains 210 proposed cuts, consolidations, and other savings. That sounds like a lot until one finds out that the alleged savings would only amount to $24 billion in a $3.8 trillion budget. Not only would the cuts do little to reduce the size of government, they would do nothing to reign in the scope of government.
Good reporting shouldn’t go unnoticed just because it appeared during the week after Christmas, so let me draw your attention to a comprehensive article on the front page of the December 26 Washington Post by Joe Stephens and Carol Leonnig:
In the Washington Post, Steven Mufson does a nice job describing how Solyndra is just one of many energy subsidy failures of recent decades.
When the Solyndra scandal broke in September, I wrote that “Republicans should be careful when casting stones given their past and present support for energy subsidies.” The left has been ripping congressional Republicans for making political hay of the Solyndra affair after having lobbied the Department of Energy to bestow their constituents with similar taxpayer handouts.
The details surrounding the $535 million government loan to Solyndra – the now-bankrupt solar energy company that had been the green apple of the president’s eye – are still emerging. It remains to be seen whether or not the Obama administration broke any laws when it pushed the loan out the door despite obvious problems with the company’s finances.
An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal written by the American Council for Capital Formation’s Margo Thorning makes a good case for “pulling the plug” on subsidies for electric vehicles. Subsidies for alternative energy vehicles have been popular with both Democrat and Republican administrations, but the Obama administration has been a particularly enthusiastic supporter of industrial planning.
The other day, The Wall Street Journal provided a public service by lambasting Newt Gingrich for his absurd speech to the ethanol lobby in Des Moines last month (money line: “Obviously big urban newspapers want to kill it because it’s working, and you wonder, ‘What are their values?’”). Today, Gingrich and fellow ethanol-maven James Woolsey struck back in those very same pages. In doing so, Gingrich provided yet more evidence that he’s intellectually unfit for office.