Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Republicans Target Renewable Energy in Debt Limit Talks

First they came for the budget. Now Republicans are demanding that we slash renewable energy investment as part of the debt ceiling talks.

Why do Republicans hate renewable energy jobs?

Investments in solar energy enjoy strong support among congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama, but they could become part of deep spending cuts Republicans are demanding in return for their votes to raise the federal debt limit.

Republicans are targeting a U.S. Treasury grant program, set to expire at the end of this year, that solar companies say has kept them alive through the recession.

GOP lawmakers also want to cut an Energy Department loan guarantee program, part of which would end Oct. 1, that has provided nearly $35 billion in loan guarantees for solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy projects that have generated more than 68,000 U.S. jobs, according to the department.

Republicans are insisting that renewable energy compete in the "free market" - which would be fine if such a thing existed. But when foreign competitors are subsidizing the hell out of their renewable efforts, and we are subsidizing oil, gas, coal and nuclear power, the "free market" argument totally falls apart and becomes just another buzz phrase that the parrots pick up and repeat ad nauseam. Unfortunately, that seems to work.

This increasingly seems like another trap for the Democrats. With renewable energy enjoying widespread support, it's important to remember that any cuts to our efforts can easily be turned into a campaign ad, ala Rove's Crossroads super-Pac ads attacking Dems for Medicare cuts in 2010. How quickly we seem to forget these lessons.

That goes for Medicare and Medicaid this time around as well. Now word comes that the Obama administration is offering up "tens of billions" in cuts to health care, and a public that doesn't understand the nuance in budgeting will certainly understand the nuance of a picture of a distressed senior struggling to cut a pill in half. The same can be done on energy, and a GOP that has no sense of conscience or shame will be glad to pin their own unpopular policy right back on this administration.

I can only imagine the Republican artists laughing as they draw the storyboards for the next set of deceptive commercials...

Update: Digby calls it on the debt ceiling - and this whole episode explains the reason why I've become increasingly disengaged lately...

This is the most amazing "negotiation" I've ever seen. The Democrats just keep giving the Republicans everything they could possibly want and the Republicans just keep telling them to take a hike. It may be kabuki, but it's become a total farce. And the truly hilarious thing about it is that the Republicans are going to destroy the Democrats in 2012 for being the ones to propose cuts to programs that people rely on and then holding the Republicans hostage with further demands for taxes. (You think they won't? Or that a number of people aren't confused enough to believe them?)

"They made us do it" isn't going to fly with a public that is barely paying attention in the first place. Matter of fact, federal cuts will make it easier for these nasty Republican governors and legislatures to pass the blame back to Washington - and get themselves off the hook for the damage they have already done in state budgets. Doesn't matter that they destroyed their states before the federal cuts; one year from now, (most) people won't remember the timing. At least not enough to overcome ads that will flat-out lie about what has happened.