Green Pigs Don’t Fly

Green Pigs Don’t Fly

By Jeffrey
Folks

Reportedly, Obama’s jobs speech will focus on
infrastructure spending, and much of that spending will undoubtedly be tied to
the creation of “green jobs.”  The problem is, what he has already spent has not
created jobs.  According to the Heritage Foundation, it may well have
cost
jobs
.  It has, however, enriched some of his wealthiest political
contributors.  And that seems to be the real motive behind the president’s
infrastructure spending.  Not green jobs, but green pork.

That appears to be the case with Obama’s $535-million
loan guarantees to Solyndra Inc.  During a 2010 visit to Solyndra’s plant in
Fremont, California, Obama insisted that the solar panel company would create
“one thousand long-term jobs.”  Solyndra has since declared bankruptcy, and it
seems unlikely that the taxpayer will recover any of the $535 million in
loans.

The half-billion that Obama threw away on Solyndra is
only a small part of $60 billion earmarked for alternative energy in Obama’s
2009 stimulus bill, and that $60 billion is only a fraction of the $100 billion
that Energy Secretary Stephen Chu envisions “investing” in alternative energy.
Solyndra is not the only green jobs company to receive stimulus funding —
hundreds of them did.  And dozens of them have gone bankrupt already, including
Evergreen Solar, taking billions of taxpayer money with them.

The GAO’s Franklin Rusco has raised questions
about the transparency and rigor of the approval process for the Solyndra loan
guarantees.  It has been suggested that the White House took a special interest
in Solyndra during the loan guarantee application process, monitoring the
process, and perhaps communicating with officials in charge.

That should be a question for congressional
investigations, and thankfully the investigations have begun.  The House
Committee on Energy and Commerce is seeking White House documents regarding
Obama’s role in obtaining the loan guarantees for Solyndra.  So far, the White
House has stonewalled, refusing to supply the requested
documents.

Reportedly, Solyndra CEO Christian M. Gronet, who
received ten
million
stock options on the same day the $535-million loan
guarantee was approved, donated to “Friends of Barbara Boxer” in 2009/2010.
According to other reports, Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, a
prominent Obama campaign contributor and bundler, was a major Solyndra investor
as well.  It is an open question as to whether political contributions from
Solyndra executives and investors influenced the administration’s decision to
back the loans.

The latest green power company to receive federal loan
guarantees is SoloPower Inc., which just this month revived a $197-million loan
guarantee to build a solar film factory in Oregon.  The initial phase of the
project, funded with the help of the federal loans, along with $40 million in
loans and tax credits from the state of Oregon, is expected to create
170
new jobs
,
according to company projections.  By my calculation, that is $1.4 million per
job — not exactly a bargain for taxpayers who will then also have to pay higher
fuel bills as a result of green energy mandates.

Before coming to SoloPower, CEO Tim Harris was a
successful executive at Seagate Technology, where he is credited with setting up
an operation creating 15,000 jobs.  Those jobs were not in America, however;
they were in Malaysia, the same country where First Solar, another major
recipient of Obama loan guarantees, has located most of its new
jobs.

In fact, Obama’s green energy stimulus has done more
for job-creation in Malaysia and China than it will ever do in the U.S.  Under
Obama’s massive loan guarantee program, the American taxpayer has footed a
$60-billion bill largely for Asian job creation.

Ironically — or perversely — the president is doing
everything possible to kill off the one industry that is producing jobs that
cannot be exported to Asia.  America possesses vast new reserves of oil and gas
that can be developed only with American labor.  If only the administration
would rescind unnecessary regulation, those jobs would double virtually
overnight.  Not only that, but federal and state royalty collections would
double as well, and the U.S. trade balance would stabilize as less oil and gas
was imported.  But so far, the president continues to press for more taxes on
conventional energy companies.  And never at any time has it occurred to him
that it might be in the national interest to support energy independence by
making it easier for American energy companies to drill right here in
America.

The White House continues to insist that the $60
billion in alternative energy funding, along with tens of billions approved in
other legislation, was a wise “investment.”  Most real investors,
having lost billions on alternative energy, would shy away from solar and wind
projects.  But Obama continues to throw money away.  In September alone, the
president approved an additional $622 million in loan guarantees for solar
companies.  Even Democrats like Senator Jeff Bingaman admit
that Obama’s loan guarantees “have not worked.”  Yet Bingaman himself introduced
a bill to fund a “clean-energy bank” to make more loans to the same kind of
companies.  Apparently, Bingaman’s logic is, “It doesn’t work, so let’s do it
again.”

That seems to be the rationale for Obama’s latest
green jobs initiative.  Bingaman is asking for $10 billion for his clean-energy
bank.  I’m sure Obama will top that by a couple hundred billion.  That funding,
if approved, will disappear into the pockets of Democratic Party supporters,
just as surely as it has in the past, though much of it will be passed along to
Democratic candidates in the 2012 elections.  If that sounds like “pay to play,”
you can draw your own conclusions.

After all, the guiding principle behind Obama’s green
jobs initiative all along has been how much it will contribute to his own
reelection.  The fantasy of green jobs presented him with a unique opportunity
to please environmentalist supporters while at the same time rewarding wealthy
contributors who also happen to be investors and executives in alternative
energy companies.

It is unlikely that Obama will ever desert this
winning combination, even as his scandalous relationship with one bankrupt
company after another comes to light.  No matter how many billions end up being
wasted, the president will continue to insist, as did an official at the
Department of Energy just last week, that the green jobs program “is on pace to
create thousands of jobs.”  Already Obama has spent as much as $10 million each
for the thousands of green jobs, he claims to have created.  Is there no limit,
and no shame?

Actually, there is not.  Because more important than
actual green jobs is green pork.  Obama is relying on green pork, along with
union pork and trial lawyer pork, to get him reelected.  Green jobs are at the
heart of his domestic agenda because green pork results in donations to the
Democratic Party.  Whether it results in any jobs, to say nothing of “long-term”
jobs, is irrelevant.  It’s his own job that Obama is focused on
saving.

Jeffrey Folks is author of many
books and articles on American culture, most recently
Heartland of the
Imagination

(2011).

Will AZ Shooter Kill the First Amendment?

Will AZ Shooter Kill the First Amendment?

January 11th, 2011

Joe Guzzardi, FloydReports.com

Immediately after crazed gunman Jared Lee Loughner gravely wounded Arizona U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, killed U.S. Judge John M. Roll, and six other people while wounding 12 innocent bystanders, the immigration rhetoric subtly ratcheted up.

Denouncing Gifford’s shooting, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and others made it clear that what they referred to as “inflammatory speech” had made the political atmosphere in Arizona so toxic that acts of violence were inevitable.

Referring to talk radio hosts, Dupnik charged them with “inflaming the American public by those who get paid to do that. It might be free speech but it does not come without consequences.”

Ironically, Dupnik is the most skilled flamethrower of all.

Last year, at the height of the S.B. 1070 controversy, Dupnik called it “racist” and “disgusting” while claiming that Arizona is “the mecca of prejudice and bigotry.” Furthermore, Dupnik went on record that he would not enforce the measure if it became law, a blatant violation of his oath of office.

Dupnik never directly claimed that S.B. 1070 and Giffords’ support of it were linked to the shootings. But a close read between the lines strongly suggests that Dupnik blames Loughner’s multiple murders on “the haters,” a label that many automatically apply to Americans who favor enforcing federal immigration law.

Even though only a few hours had passed after the massacre before Dupnik pointed his finger and no evidence has yet surfaced that Loughner is anything other than deranged, more “hate” charges flew.

Read more.

Morning Bell: “We’ve Come to Take Our Government Back”

Morning Bell: “We’ve Come to Take Our Government Back”

Posted By Michael Franc On May 19, 2010 @ 8:57 am In Ongoing Priorities | No Comments

[1]

Last month the Pew Research Center reported [2] that only 22% of Americans trusted the government to do the right thing always or most of the time. And that was the good news for incumbents:

Favorable ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb.

Significantly, a majority of Americans (52%) see the members of Congress themselves as the source of their dissatisfaction. Only 38% attribute their frustration to “a broken political system.”

Last night’s election results in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas seem to bear that out:

  • In Kentucky, political newcomer Rand Paul trounced Secretary of State Trey Grayson. As a proxy for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Grayson had inadvertently become the Washington insider in the race despite never having been elected to federal office. And, as the son of libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul, the younger Paul was also a proxy of sorts. He came to embody the desire of voters in the Bluegrass State to send the ultimate outsider to Washington. His mission? Shrink the federal behemoth, balance the budget and reduce the federal debt while exhibiting some long overdue humility from our public servants.
  • In Pennsylvania, given the opportunity to oust a five-term incumbent Senator with plenty of inside-the-Beltway clout, Democratic primary voters cheerfully complied. They dumped Arlen Specter in favor of a relative newcomer, second-term Rep. Joe Sestak. In his victory speech, Sestak struck a defiant populist tone, characterizing his victory as a “win for the people” over “the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington, D.C.”
  • In Arkansas, Democratic primary challengers from both the right and left squeezed incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln into a run-off against the state’s leftist Lt. Governor, Bill Halter. While Halter galvanized Arkansas’ Democratic base on the political left, businessman D. C. Morrison ran to Lincoln’s right as a conservative, Reagan-loving Democrat. Morrison cast his vote for Ron Paul in 2008 and spent considerable time railing against Obamacare, bailouts, the stimulus bill and mounting government debt, Morrison pulled a not insignificant 13% of the Democratic vote.

Seniority on the most powerful congressional committees and endorsements from Washington’s most powerful insiders, including President Obama, were liabilities last night.

So, what explains the outcome in the special House election to replace recently deceased Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)? An aide to Murtha, Mark Critz, handily defeated Republican businessman Tim Burns in a contest many pundits felt would serve as an early barometer of Republican prospects in November. As one political consultant noted last night: “I think us pundits in Washington are going to have to revise our thinking about whether this is a wave election year for Republicans.”

Ron Brownstein, the brainy political expert at National Journal, argues that to regain control of the House, Republicans must prevail in seats such as this one. Districts where there is little racial diversity (i.e., where whites comprise 90% or more of the electorate) and few attended college. Murtha’s seat, Pennsylvania-12, fits this profile to a tee.

Get ready for an outpouring of new analyses spouting a new conventional wisdom, one that dismisses the power of the Tea Party movement, and questions whether 2010 will be a watershed election after all.

But, if Critz’s victory is to serve as some sort of a blueprint for Democrats, it will require some serious triangulation. Critz, after all, campaigned (rhetorically, at least) to the right of most Washington Democrats. “I opposed the health care bill,” he insisted during a debate, and then added for good measure that “I’m pro-life and pro-gun. That’s not liberal.” As with the outcomes in those Senate primaries, Washington’s Democratic establishment cannot draw much solace from this development.

There is an overriding lesson for conservatives from last night’s results as well.

Many are prematurely confident that November will be one of those rare “wave” elections that upend the Washington power structure and realign our politics. Maybe. But the early warning signs have been there for everyone to see for awhile now, at least since Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA) historic election in January. Savvy liberal political strategists and worried Democratic primary voters, moreover, have had ample time to adapt to the demands of an angry and increasingly conservative electorate. Few Democrats in swing or conservative districts will run as Pelosi or Obama liberals. Instead, expect their rhetoric to morph the populism of Joe Sestak into the conservatism of Mark Critz. As Rand Paul said [3] last night:

I have a message, a message from the Tea Party. A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We’ve come to take our government back.

Quick Hits:

The Potty Parity Act–Question: What is the House of Representatives doing as unemployment approaches 10%, the deficit exceeds 10% of GDP, the public debt grows to unprecedented size for peacetime and Iran is about to get The Bomb?

The Potty Parity Act

Randall Hoven

Question:  What is the House of Representatives doing as unemployment approaches 10%, the deficit exceeds 10% of GDP, the public debt grows to unprecedented size for peacetime and Iran is about to get The Bomb?

Answer:  Addressing unequal restroom facilities in federal buildings with the so-called Potty Parity Act.
“The fact is, it’s not a joke. Not only is it not a joke to women, it’s not a joke to men who go with the women who have to wait while they’re standing in line.  It’s also politically very popular. It’s the right thing to do and it’s catching up with the cultural lag in our society.”  Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
The Potty Parity Act is bipartisan; it is being co-sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).
Of course, Congress has such housekeeping chores to deal with.  But surely, the bulk of its time must be spent on serious issues.  I report, you decide.  Here is the list of House roll-call votes in the last week.
  • 258.  Supporting the goals and ideals of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
  • 257.  Honoring the life and legacy of William Earnest Ernie Harwell.
  • 256.  Expressing support for designation of the first Saturday in May as National Explosive Ordnance Disposal Day to honor those who are serving and have served in the noble and self-sacrificing profession of Explosive Ordnance Disposal in the United States Armed Forces.
  • 255.  Home Star Energy Retrofit Act.
  • 254.  Home Star Energy Retrofit Act.
  • 253.  Burgess of Texas Amendment No. 4.
  • 252.  Barton of Texas Amendment No. 2.
  • 251.  Telework Improvements Act.
  • 250.  Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mothers Day.
  • 249.  Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 5019) to provide for the establishment of the Home Star Retrofit Rebate Program, and for other purposes

Boehner: ‘At least 100 seats’ are in play…

Boehner: GOP Will Repeal Health Care Law

by NPR Staff

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH)

Enlarge Haraz N. Ghanbari/APHouse Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) says his party will enact common-sense steps to lower the cost of health care if his party wins the majority in November’s midterm election.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH)

Haraz N. Ghanbari/APHouse Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) says his party will enact common-sense steps to lower the cost of health care if his party wins the majority in November’s midterm election.

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April 30, 2010

House Republican Leader John Boehner has said that his party will repeal the new health care law if the GOP gains a congressional majority in November.

“I think that we need to repeal the health care law and replace it with common-sense steps that will lower the cost of health insurance in America,” Boehner (R-OH) tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep.

Boehner and the Republicans are hoping for a repeat of 1994, when the GOP swept the midterm elections. He says the party is engaging with the public to develop the agenda it will enact if it secures a majority in November.

The party that controls the White House typically loses House seats during midterm elections, and Democrats are bracing for losses: 37 governorships, 36 Senate seats and the entire 435-member House are at stake.

Boehner says he’s optimistic about his party’s prospects, citing public anger over spending and debt. He says he believes “at least 100 seats” are in play.

“If [Republican Sen.] Scott Brown can win in Massachusetts, there isn’t a seat in America the Republicans can’t win,” Boehner says. “What we’re seeing every day is the playing field widen, widen beyond anything we’ve seen around here during my 20 years.”

But Republicans face criticism that much of their time in the minority has been spent opposing Democratic proposals. Boehner rejects that charge, saying his party offered ideas on the stimulus bill, the budget and health care.

“If you look over the course of the last 16 months, every time we’ve had to oppose our Democrat colleagues, we’ve offered what we thought was a better solution,” he says.

Congress sees no budget rush

Congress sees no budget rush
By: Jonathan Allen
April 12, 2010 04:16 AM EDT
Congress is poised to miss its April 15 deadline for finishing next year’s budget without even considering a draft in either chamber.

Unlike citizens’ tax-filing deadline, Congress’s mid-April benchmark is nonbinding. And members seem to be in no rush to get the process going.

Indeed, some Democratic insiders suspect that leaders will skip the budget process altogether this year — a way to avoid the political unpleasantness of voting on spending, deficits and taxes in an election year — or simply go through a few of the motions, without any real effort to complete the work.

Regan LaChapelle, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), would go only so far as saying that the budget “is on a list of things that are possible for this work period” — a reference to the window that opens when members roll back into town Monday and closes when they leave around Memorial Day.

Congress has failed to adopt a final budget four times in the past 35 years — for fiscal years 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 — according to a recent Congressional Research Service report. If the House does not pass a first version of the budget resolution, it will be the first time since the implementation of the 1974 Budget Act, which governs the modern congressional budgeting process.

The practical consequences of failing to produce a federal budget for next year are about the same as they are for a family that doesn’t set a plan for income and spending: Congress doesn’t need a budget to tax or spend, but enforcing discipline is harder without one. And, like a family that misses out on efficiencies because it hasn’t taken a hard look at its finances, Congress can’t use reconciliation rules to cut the deficit if the House and the Senate don’t adopt the same budget.

But there are political consequences to the budget conundrum, too — and for Democrats, they’re of the “damned if you, damned if you don’t” variety.

Republicans are certain to castigate the majority Democrats if they fail to put a fiscal blueprint in place amid a public backlash against spending and a torrent of dire warnings from economic experts about the consequences of imbalanced federal books.

But they’ll also call Democrats on the carpet if they approve a new budget that includes more spending, higher deficits or increased taxes.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the government’s books must be put in order through tax increases or slashing spending for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“These choices are difficult, and it always seems easier to put them off — until the day they cannot be put off anymore,” Bernanke said.

 

Similar warnings have been issued in the past week by Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who is an adviser to President Barack Obama.

But there’s little appetite for taking on these issues in an election year and plenty of ways for the minority party to inflict pain upon anyone who tries.

In the Senate, expedited procedures allow for relatively quick consideration of a budget resolution — no filibusters need apply — but senators may offer an unlimited string of politically charged amendments culminating in a vote-a-rama certain to provide Republican challengers with fresh campaign ammunition.

Just last month, when the Senate considered a fiscal 2010 budget reconciliation bill dealing with health care, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) tried to jam Democrats by forcing them to vote against an amendment that would have prohibited sex offenders from getting drugs for erectile dysfunction through the new health care exchanges.

And in the House, rank-and-file lawmakers are showing signs of political fatigue from a series of difficult votes, including enactment of the stimulus and health care laws and passage of a controversial climate change bill last year.

All of that raises this question: Why would Democratic leaders expose themselves and their rank and file to so much political risk, particularly when there’s no guarantee that the House and Senate could come to agreement on a final version?

After all, the budget itself is nonbinding, and the process to finish it is daunting: committee action in the House and Senate, painful floor votes in both chambers, negotiations to resolve differences if there are any and a second set of tough votes on a compromise version if needed.

Still, there’s an institutional interest for the budget committees in delivering a work product every year to demonstrate their importance. Even as most of the Capitol’s budget writers were tied up calculating costs and savings in the new health care law in the first quarter of the year, preparations for the fiscal 2011 budget were under way in both the House and the Senate budget committees.

Moreover, many Democrats believe they have a responsibility to at least try to put a budget in place.

Congressional aides said that Democratic leaders will have to make a decision soon after they reconvene this week about whether they can finish a budget before Memorial Day.

What’s lost in the absence of a budget, first and foremost, is the ability to write filibuster-proof reconciliation bills, which are the best vehicles for cutting spending or raising taxes in a highly partisan Senate.

In addition to reconciliation instructions, a budget also provides spending-control mechanisms, such as the 302(a) allocation that caps appropriations for the year, and can include “reserve” funds that grant lawmakers certain flexibility in budgeting for new laws.

But even if a budget isn’t in place, appropriators have tools at their disposal to implement an overall spending cap and individual suballocations for each of the committees’ 12 annual bills.

This Wheel’s On Fire For the Democrats, trouble is coming.

This Wheel’s On Fire

For the Democrats, trouble is coming.

BY Matthew Continetti

April 9, 2010 11:49 AM

As liberals engage in one of their periodic celebrations of how open-minded and intelligent they are, it’s worth taking a moment to assess just how bad a political situation they’ve created for the Democrats. Consider:

Gallup says the Democrats are at their lowest level of approval in 18 years.

The new Fox poll has Obama at 43 percent job approval.

The Pollster.com poll of polls has Obama’s disapproval at 48 percent.

Democratic congressmen continue to flee the sinking ship.

Nate Silver says there’s a better than one-in-ten chance that Democrats lose more than 55 House seats on Election Day.

Obamacare is no more popular than it was before passage (indeed, opposition is on an upward trajectory), and the idea of repeal is relatively popular.

Liberals tend to blame the economy for this horrible situation. But the macroeconomy is slowly recovering (GDP, stocks, and jobs are up), while Democratic fortunes continue to fall. Another tactic is to blame an “anti-incumbent” environment. But, as John Podhoretz points out, those incumbents are all Democrats.

Obama, Pelosi, and Reid misread the 2006 and 2008 elections and embarked on an agenda of which the public heartily disapproves. The stimulus failed. Government-centric housing policy has failed. Health care became law despite public resistance. The Obama budget projects massive deficits and debt far into the future. Taxes, regulations, and interest rates are all set to rise. Absent a massive change in policy and tone on the part of Congress and the White House, it’s hard to see how the Democrats avoid a very, very bad November. Of course the sluggish economy will play a role. But overall, it’s the agenda, stupid.