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Republicans Join Democrats to Save Corporate Welfare (Again)

June 8, 2012 @ 1:29 pm
Posted by Tad DeHaven

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) introduced three amendments to the recently passed Energy & Water appropriations bill that would have eliminated a slew of business subsidies at the Department of Energy. Unfortunately, House Republicans once again teamed up with their Democratic colleagues to keep the corporate welfare spigot flowing.

From The Hill:

The largest spending cut proposal came from Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), which would have eliminated the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy account at the Department of Energy and used the $1.45 billion in savings toward deficit reduction. Like other Republicans, McClintock argued that this account needlessly spends money on questionable private investments that have not led to any measurable returns. But the House rejected McClintock’s amendment in a 113-275 vote, in which 113 Republicans voted for it but 107 Republicans joined every Democrat in opposition.

From a second article from The Hill:

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) proposed ending all nuclear energy research subsidies to private companies, which would have saved $514 million and used that money to lower the deficit. But the House rejected that amendment in a 106-281 vote that divided Republicans 91-134. McClintock also proposed language cutting fossil energy research subsidies, which would have saved $554 million. But the House killed that amendment 138-249, as Republicans split again 102-123.

A few comments:

First, Democrats voted overwhelmingly to continue to subsidize commercial interests. And here I thought Democrats were concerned about the have and have-nots.

Second, Rep. McClintock deserves a round of applause for his efforts. These votes speak volumes about a member’s beliefs about the proper role of the federal government. A lot of members—especially Republicans—talk a good game when it comes to spending, limited government, free markets, etc. However, when the time comes to put their money where their mouths are, many choose to instead put other people’s money in the mouths of special interests.

For those taxpayers who are interested in seeing how their member voted, the following are the roll call tallies for McClintock’s amendments:

[See here for more on why energy subsidies should be eliminated.]

Update: Steve Ellis from Taxpayers for Common Sense alerted me to an amendment introduced by Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and McClintock that would have shut down the Department of Energy’s Title 17 loan guarantee program. That’s the program that gave us Solyndra. The amendment failed 136-282 with 127 Republicans joining 155 Democrats to defeat the amendment. That the Republican-led House couldn’t get rid of the program that begot Solyndra is about as low as it gets.

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Green Graft: One of the Best Breakdowns of Green Energy Crony Capitalism We Have See

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I feel like I have to say this periodically as we highlight the massive corruption in Obama’s various “green energy” initiatives. We like alternative energy. We think it has an important place in the future of energy. However, we are not for the subsidization of these technologies and we are certainly not for the extensive “green graft” we have seen under the current presidential administration.

The attached (short) article does a good job of summing up some of the most egregious examples of green graft.

(From The American Thinker)

“ Let’s turn our attention to SolarReserve. The DOE gave a $737-million loan for SolarReserve to build its Crescent Dunes project near Tonopah, NV. SolarReserve’s list of “investment partners” includes Pacific Corporate Group (PCG) Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC, whose number-two man is Ronald Pelosi, a San Francisco politico who just happens to be Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law.”

Click here for the story.

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Green Firms Get Fed Cash, Give Execs Bonuses, Fail

Green Firms Get Fed Cash, Give Execs Bonuses, Fail – ABC News.

CAGW Names Energy Sec. Steven Chu 2011 Porker of the Year

image(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) announced the results of its online poll for the 2011 Porker of the Year.  Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu won with 43 percent of the vote.  Second place went to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) with 27 percent, and third-place honors were awarded to Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon with 16 percent.  Honorable mentions go out to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis.

Sec. Chu’s weak oversight of DOE’s loan guarantee program (LGP) resulted in huge losses to taxpayers when solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, the recipient of a $535 million loan guarantee, filed for bankruptcy in September, 2011.  Solyndra was granted the $535 million loan through a green energy technology section of the LGP, which received a massive increase in funding on the 2009 stimulus package.  The LGP program itself has been the subject of three Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports since its inception, all detailing its management weaknesses, arbitrary selection process, and vulnerabilities to manipulation and politicization.

To make matters worse, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that Solyndra’s former employees qualify for federal aid packages worth $13,000 each under DOL’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which compensates and retrains American workers who can prove that their jobs were lost as a result of foreign competition.  The TAA benefits far exceed normal unemployment benefits.  The DOL granted TAA to Solyndra’s employees by accepting the company’s claim that it went belly up as a result of unfair competition by Chinese solar panel manufacturers, rather than from mismanagement by company executives.

Unfortunately, Solyndra was not Sec. Chu’s and DOE’s only ill-fated LGP recipient.  Beacon Power and Evergreen, Inc., both of Massachusetts, along with Ener1 of Delaware and SpectraWatt of Oregon, have filed for bankruptcy after receiving DOE loan guarantees.  In addition, Fisker Automotive, which was awarded a $529 million loan guarantee, announced layoffs at its Delaware plant after the government halted payments due to “delays” in its production schedule.  A July, 2010 GAO report concluded that the LGP lacked clear goals and failed to hold all applicants to the same standards.  GAO said that the LGP “has treated applicants inconsistently, favoring some and disadvantaging others,” and that “some applicants … receive conditional commitments before incurring expenses that other applicants had to pay.  It is unclear how DOE could have sufficient information to negotiate conditional commitments without such reviews.”

“Sec. Chu dismissed numerous warning signs that the LGP was a ticking time bomb,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz.  “The dramatic program expansion in 2009 and the continued funneling of taxpayer dollars toward poor investments reeks of poor management and crony capitalism, since Solyndra’s major investors were among the President’s largest campaign donors.  If this is the Obama administration’s idea of how America can ‘invest’ in its economic recovery, taxpayers would much rather keep the money and do it themselves.”

For acting as if winning a Nobel Prize in physics also magically confers the title of venture capitalist, and for frittering away taxpayers’ hard-earned money, DOE Sec. Steven Chu is CAGW’s 2011 Porker of the Year.

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Year is a dubious honor given to a lawmaker, government official, or political candidate who has shown the most blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers throughout the year.

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If Obama Loses, It Will Be Because Of This One Chart

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James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute

In his State of the Union response the other night, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels neatly summed up Mitt Romney’s (who has a roughly 90 percent chance of being the GOP nominee according to Intrade) economic case against President Barack Obama: “The president did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight, but he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse.”

In other words, the Obama Recovery stinks. Even if today’s GDP report — for the fourth quarter of 2011 — shows 3 percent growth or better, it would be just the fourth time that has happened since the economy began turning up in June 2009: 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2010, and 3.8 percent in the second quarter of 2010. But no 3 percent-plus quarters since then.

The first nine quarters of the Reagan Recovery, by contrast, looked like this:  5.1 percent, 9.3 percent, 8.1 percent, 8.5 percent, 8.0 percent,  7.1 percent, 3.9 percent, 3.3 percent, 3.8, percent, 3.4 percent. In fact, the Reagan Boom went from the first quarter of 1983 until the second quarter of 1986 without notching a sub-3 percent GDP quarter.

So while the Reagan Recovery quickly made up for lost years of growth, not so much for the Obama Recovery, as this chart in today’s Wall Street Journal makes clear:

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And few economists are expecting the Obama Recovery to take off anytime soon. The IMF predicts just 1.8 percent growth for 2012 (and that’s assuming no EU sovereign debt meltdown). And the Federal Reserve sees growth in the 2.2 percent to 2.7 percent range with unemployment around 8.2 percent to 8.5 percent. Ugh!

The WSJ offers two explanations for the anemic rebound:

Economists say the nature of the recession helps explain the slow recovery. Aftershocks from the financial crisis have left banks reluctant to lend, making it hard for companies, and especially start-ups, to get access to capital. The housing market, which has historically helped lead the economy out of recession, remains deeply depressed.

Many business leaders say they are also being held back by policy-related uncertainty, everything from the threat of new regulations and higher taxes to the fear that political gridlock could hamper the government’s ability to respond to a new crisis. Recent economic research has given some weight to those complaints. A study by a trio of academic economists found that policy uncertainty has risen in recent years, and that periods of uncertainty have in the past corresponded with rising unemployment and slowing growth.

Whichever explanation holds more weight with voters may go a long way toward deciding who’ll be America’s next president.

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U.S. making nice with the Muslim Brotherhood?

The highest-level meeting between a U.S. diplomat and Muslim Brotherhood officials will take place today in Cairo, Egypt.

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U.S. deputy secretary of state, William Burns, will meet officials of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing in the highest-level meeting yet between the two sides. (Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. has long shunned Egypt‘s Muslim Brotherhood, accusing it of links to terrorists. Looks like that is about to change.

The State Department‘s number two diplomat, William Burns, will meet with leaders of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which just won roughly 40 percent of the seats in parliament, AFP reports. (Final results of Egypt’s recent legislative elections have not yet been released).

The meeting marks part of a shift towards rapprochment from a decades-old U.S. policy of hostility toward the Brotherhood, who many in the U.S still fear will pose a threat to Israel and boost support for more extreme Islamists.

Still, the rise of Islamists, moderate and extreme, is a new reality in post-Mubarak Egypt. See Middle East highlights in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bills from Jul. 2012, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved an amendment to limit the Secretary of State from using funds to support the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Obama’s Cordray Appointment Mocks the Constitution

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July 18, 2011: President Obama announces the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to serve as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

By Phil Kerpen
Published January 04, 2012

In 2008 candidate Sen. Barack Obama famously said: “This is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he is going along. I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We are not going to use signing statements as a way of doing and end run around Congress.”

Now, we find that not only was he kidding about signing statements – he recently used one to ignore about 20 provisions of the omnibus spending bill – but Obama also believes he can decide for himself that the Senate is in recess when it is not, overturn at least a hundred years of precedent, and bypass the Constitution’s

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Moreover, the president now considers it a political virtue that he is doing precisely what he criticized George Bush for doing: “make laws as he is going along.” Obama now says: “I refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer… when Congress refuses to act in a way that hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”

If he were acting within the confines of the law and the Constitution, the argument might make sense.But Obama has now adopted a theory of executive power so expansive that a reporter at a recent press conference understandably asked whether the president believes we have a virtual monarchy, a president of unlimited powers subject only to periodic elections but not to the rule of law.

According to a 1993 brief from the Clinton Justice Department, Congress must remain adjourned for at least three days before the adjournment constitutes a “recess” for the purposes the recess appointment power.

The origin of this three day period is Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, which states: “Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days.”

In other words, the president can only recess appoint when the Senate has adjourned for more than three days, and the Senate cannot adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the House.

Speaker John Boehner has properly withheld that consent to prevent Obama from installing radical appointees into key positions.

There is recent precedent for this action and for its legitimacy.In fact, then-Obama Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote to the Supreme Court on April 26, 2010:“Although a President may fill such vacancies through the use of his recess appointment power … the Senate may act to foreclose this option by declining to recess for more than two or three days at a time over a lengthy period. For example, the Senate did not recess intrasession for more than three days at a time for over a year beginning in late 2007.”

Obama’s attempt to “recess appoint” Richard Cordray while the Senate is in pro forma session is especially galling in light of the history of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the broad powers that Cordray – if Obama’s sleight of hand is permitted by the courts – will wield over the United States economy.

The CFPB has the power to interfere with every consumer financial transaction in the economy. It is housed in the Federal Reserve and funded out of Fed operations, not congressional appropriations, avoiding effective congressional oversight.

All power is vested in one individual – now, presumably Cordray – with no board or commission.None of this was part of Elizabeth Warren’s original design, which included a five-member commission that was funded and overseen by Congress.Senate Republicans have correctly called for reforms to make the new agency accountable before confirming a nominee and allowing it to begin writing rules that could have a major negative impact on the economy.

Obama doesn’t care.He’s making is up as he goes along.What a difference four years makes.

Phil Kerpenis vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America – and How to Stop Him.

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Beneath Growth, a Sea of Poison

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Mike Brownfield
January 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

Today’s jobs report from the Department of Labor was encouraging news for the U.S. economy. It shows that 200,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate ticked down from 8.7 percent to 8.5 percent. Jobs were created in every sector of the economy save one — government! This report is consistent with other economic indicators and shows that the economy is finally coming out of its malaise. But like any reports, they must be put into context. The creation of 200,000 new jobs is solid growth and above the 130,000 to 150,000 new jobs that must be created to keep up with population growth.  However, this doesn’t mean happy times  are here again.

There are not enough Americans working or looking for work. In fact participation in the labor force is at its lowest point in 30 years as many potential workers are not yet even attempting to find jobs. Moreover, at this stage in a recovery, new jobs should be surging instead of averaging less than 140,000 for the last three months. So all is not well and President Obama should not check the “mission accomplished” box. In fact, Obama’s painful economic policies will only serve to further hamstring America’s economic engine, thereby preventing a truly strong, vibrant economy that the country is capable of having.

The President single-handedly unleashed another poison pill on Wednesday with the White House’s announcement that he will exact another illegal, unconstitutional end-run around Congress with the appointment of three new members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) without Senate approval, all of whom are union officials. Here’s why that matters.

The NLRB is a five-member board that is responsible for investigating unfair labor practices, creating labor-related rules, and conducting elections for labor union representation. Last year the NLRB enacted measures shortening union elections to as little as 14 days, limiting employees’ ability to hear from both sides before they vote, allowing unions to cherry-pick which workers in a company can vote on unionizing, and preventing workers from insisting on a secret ballot in union drives, as Heritage’s James Sherk explains. These measures will make it much easier for unions to organize workers — but at the expense of workers’ rights. If workers want to join a union they have that right — management gets the union it deserves — but the government should not limit their rights in order to press workers into unionizing.

Prior to the President’s appointments, the NLRB had only three sitting members, with the one member’s term ending at the end of 2012. Were the NLRB to go down to two members, it wouldn’t have a quorum to conduct its business, meaning that the President’s Big Labor agenda couldn’t be enacted. Now, though, the President has appointed three new members who will undoubtedly carry out his agenda without any checks or balances.

And that agenda is to bolster America’s unions — a key constituency and political force standing behind the President. Unfortunately, their goal is not primarily to protect workers. The trouble is that the Big Labor agenda is fundamentally at odds with the pro-growth agenda that America is so thirsty for. Sherk explains:

Unions make businesses less competitive and discourage investment. This reduces job growth. Studies show that jobs fall by 5-10 percent at newly organized firms. Going forward, employment grows by three to four percentage points more slowly at unionized businesses than at otherwise identical non-union companies.

In short, America is witnessing President Obama put his Big Labor allies before workers, all in the guise of taking action on behalf of the American people. America’s job creators are sitting on the sidelines, as well, watching as this President takes actions that serve only to inject more poisonous uncertainty into the economy.

Apart from the economic ramifications of the President’s actions, the American people should also remember that his NLRB appointments are a blatantly unconstitutional, tyrannical abuse of power. The U.S. Constitution requires that the President receive the advice and consent of the Senate when making appointments — a requirement that President Obama entirely set aside in order to advance his agenda.

Today, the President may say he is finding success in fighting for the American worker, but in truth he is fighting for his political allies. Beneath the surface of his populist rhetoric, his policies are poisoning strong economic growth. And for the President, the Constitution is collateral damage.

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