U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement on October 2, 2008.
As much as members of Congress want to find scapegoats, the root of this problem is political greed in Congress. Members of Congress from both parties wanted short-term political credit for promoting home ownership even though they were putting our entire economy at risk by encouraging people to buy homes they couldn’t afford. Then, instead of conducting thorough oversight and correcting obvious problems with unstable entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, members of Congress chose to ignore the problem and distract themselves with unprecedented amounts of pork-barrel spending.
Taxpayers who want to ensure that this doesn’t happen again should send a very clear message to Washington that it’s time for Congress to live within its means and restore the principles of limited government and free markets that made this country great. I will do everything in my power to ensure that this bill does not lead us down a slippery slope of European style socialism and slow economic growth. I will also promise taxpayers that I will do everything in my power to block what I expect will be hundreds of attempts by politicians in Washington to continue business-as-usual borrowing and spending in the next Congress. In a time of crisis, American families have to make hard choices between budget priorities. So should Congress. If politicians want to create new programs they should eliminate duplicative programs or reduce funding for less important programs. The only way we can put this crisis behind us is for Congress to rejoin the real world of budget choices and consequences which, as we have seen in recent days, can be ignored for only so long.
Thomas L. Friedman at the New York Times describes the political mess that constitutes U.S. energy policy (excerpts below). While I have some reservations about subsidies for alternative energy, I don’t think that subsidies for traditional energy (oil and gas) should be extended. Apparently the oil lobby and their fat wallets are more important in Washington than energy independence.
Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.
These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again — which often happens — investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That’s how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies.
The Democrats wanted the wind and solar credits to be paid for by taking away tax credits from the oil industry. President Bush said he would veto that. Neither side would back down, and Mr. Bush — showing not one iota of leadership — refused to get all the adults together in a room and work out a compromise. Stalemate. Meanwhile, Germany has a 20-year solar incentive program; Japan 12 years. Ours, at best, run two years.
While all the presidential candidates were railing about lost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, no one noticed that America’s premier solar company, First Solar, from Toledo, Ohio, was opening its newest factory in the former East Germany — 540 high-paying engineering jobs — because Germany has created a booming solar market and America has not.