Fiscal Cliff Becomes K Street Gravy Train

This morning, even as Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Vice President Joe Biden make “major progress” on the fiscal cliff, one thing is clear: this is becoming a K Street Gravy Train.

Because legislative text is unavailable, it is impossible to know just how larded up a potential deal will become, but the Examiner’s Tim Carney has this nugget:

An all-star lineup of lobbyists, featuring former congressmen and many of Obama’s closest allies, is fighting to save a tax credit for wind energy that expires at midnight Monday.

The lobbying team to renew the tax credit is formidable, packed with Obama’s closest corporate confidants as well as former congressmen from both parties.

Subsidizing wind doesn’t stimulate the economy, it simply fosters cronyism.  Lawmakers should not allow special interest lobbyists to sneak a last minute extension of bad policy into a year-end bill.

An extension of the so-called farm bill (which is about 80% food stamps) may also hitch a ride.  The Hill reports a one-year extension is “gaining support” with House Republicans:

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Green Energy Fails, Lobbyists Push for More

The Hill reports that energy groups are calling for a change to the text of a wind-power tax credit that would increase investment in several types of renewable, or green, energy.  They would like other forms of energy (green energy, of course) to receive taxpayer subsidies.  Eligible energies would include biomass, geothermal and hydropower.  Usually, when the government makes a supposed “investment,” it’s a red flag that some sort of failure is around the corner.

The list of Obama’s green energy failures is very, very long.  This abysmal record should signal to the federal government – and taxpayers – that it’s time to stop subsidizing these ventures with taxpayer money.  In fact, these subsidies never should have begun.   Yet, somehow, special interest lobbyists act as though this trend will suddenly change if they effectively rob taxpayers some more.

Energy groups want new language in the Senate Finance Committee’s tax package that they erroneously think would “boost investment for 2013.”  Actually, they’re right, but only on a technicality.  Investments will get a boost; they just won’t pay off.   

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Windmills: So Many Installed, So Little Power Actually Produced

Energy is and will always be an economic topic of great importance.  When a topic is of great economic importance, it also becomes a topic of political importance.  And when something is of political importance, politicians have a tendency to get involved…with your money.

Conservatives are opposed to subsidies for any industry, including the energy industry.  Subsidies distort markets, shift costs from the industry at hand to the taxpayer, and disguise the true cost of producing a particular product — all of this is usually on the taxpayers’ dime. 

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Let’s Get Rid of the Wind Production Tax Credit

The Kansan reports that Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is calling for an end to the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC).  This tax credit provides incentives, including grants, tax incentives, and energy production rebates on the first ten years of wind energy production.  These types of federal incentives have been credited with “an increase in wind production and wind energy jobs throughout theU.S.”

Like many wise observers, Rep. Pompeo does not believe that the federal government should be in the business of supporting any segment of the energy industry.  His insight is a solid one.  Heritage energy policy analysts have explained that legislation promoting special industries subsidies “[fail] the free market test.” 

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Wind and Sun Have Washington Connections

The following graphic from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency color codes the states that have a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) or that have a goal to get an RPS in red and orange respectively.  Those states colored in white do not currently have an RPS or an intention of implementing one.

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