Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 4, 2011

GET THE ENERGY SECTOR OFF THE DOLE.... With global warming deniers about to take charge of the House of Representatives, there would seem to be little hope for major clean energy legislation in this Congress. But all is not lost, argues Jeffrey Leonard in the latest issue of the Washington Monthly. Last fall's election let loose political forces that President Obama can tap to set us on a path to a sustainable energy future with a simple proposal: eliminate all energy subsidies.

Yes, eliminate them all -- for oil, coal, gas, nuclear, ethanol, even for wind and solar. It will be better for national security, the budget deficit, and, believe it or not, the environment. Green energy sources get only the tiniest sliver of the overall federal subsidy pie, so they'll have a competitive advantage in the long term if all subsidies, including the huge ones for fossil fuels, are eliminated. In addition, deep trends in America's energy supply, including discoveries of huge natural gas reserves, will over time create favorable terrain for wind, solar, and other energy sources that liberals love -- but only if our entrenched system of subsidies doesn't gum up the works. And while getting the energy sector off the dole may have once been politically impossible, with anti-pork Tea Partiers loose in Washington and deficit cutting in the air, the moment may finally be right.

Read "Get the Energy Sector off the Dole."

Also, the rest of the new January/February 2011 issue is also now online. Here's the table of contents:

Editor's Note
The Jiujitsu Kid
by Paul Glastris

Tilting at Windmills
Cool Hand Barack ... Don’t let sleeping lies dog ... Capitalism could break your heart ...
by Charles Peters

Cover story: "What He Should Say in the State of the Union: Memos to Obama"

Features...

A Time Against Race
Last year Mitch Landrieu became the first white mayor of New Orleans in three decades. He did so by garnering majority support from citizens of both races -- the rarest of achievements in American politics. How long can he hold it all together?
by Justin Vogt

Get the Energy Sector off the Dole
Why ending all government subsidies for fuel production will lead to a cleaner energy future -- and why Obama has a rare chance to make it happen.
by Jeffrey Leonard

On Political Books...

Goodnight Moon
Will America ever escape the shadow of Apollo?
by Charles Homans

Solitary Confinement
Tony Judt thought a great deal about dignity. His final book, written while the author was dying of ALS, is the epitome of it.
by Michael O’Donnell

Valley Forged
Early American counterfeiters and their heirs on Wall Street.
by Jamie Malanowski

Guerillas in the Mist
Peter Bergen blows away the political fog surrounding our war against al-Qaeda.
by Christian Caryl

The Greater Terror
In his masterful new history, Timothy Snyder portrays Stalin’s and Hitler’s mass exterminations as flip sides of the same genocide—one that was both more horrible and less unique than we thought.
by Benjamin Wallace-Wells

Steve Benen 11:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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Comments

That assumes that Republican's are serious about cutting spending, which they're not and Tea Partiers are serious about holding their elected officials accountable which they won't.

Posted by: David Swan on January 4, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

First energy, then agriculture, followed by Wall Street and banking, followed by. . .

Oh, wait! Bernie Sanders is NOT in charge.

Posted by: DAY on January 4, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Even up the playing field. That is the way Reagan sold tax reform. Oil, and coal should be forced to compete head to head with the rest of the energy sector.

It won't happen. It has been proposed over and over again, and the Republicans and Blue Dogs swat it down time after time. Progressives are going to have to mount a sustained campaign and gin up public support. Maybe this can be the centerpiece of a deficit reduction bill proposed by Senate Democrats. If that works we can move on to the real third rail of American politics--the AG subsities.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 4, 2011 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Eliminate all energy subsidies. Yeah, that'll work. I'm sure Joe Barton, Jim Inhofe, the Koch brothers et al will be real happy to get behind that one.

Posted by: Basilsic on January 4, 2011 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

I love the idea.

Posted by: tomb on January 4, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

yeah and we should nationalize the oil & gas industry while we're at it. not bloody likely.

Posted by: Phil in Denver on January 4, 2011 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

You all realize that the oil and gas subsidies are about 37 billion which is more than 1/3 of the 100 billion in cuts the Republicans want to pass this year. Not all of those subsidies come in the form of special tax rules. Some of them are direct payments from the treasury. I think we could get to 100 billion pretty fast if we focused on corporate give aways.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 4, 2011 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

As long as the costs of carbon pollution can be foisted off on the public at no cost to the polluters, the fossil fuel corporations are "on the dole". So any such proposal absolutely requires placing a price on carbon pollution, either with a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, otherwise it is nonsense.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 4, 2011 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

So any such proposal absolutely requires placing a price on carbon pollution, either with a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, otherwise it is nonsense.
--

And Goldman Sachs agrees.

Posted by: Capt. Trade on January 4, 2011 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey Leonard writes regarding nuclear power: " ... even without new subsidies (except liability protection) ..."

Sorry, but you just destroyed the entire premise of your argument.

As long as the Price-Anderson Act forces the taxpayers to take on ALL the liability for a catastrophic nuclear accident, the nuclear power industry remains "on the dole".

Likewise, as long as the Federal government (a.k.a. the taxpayers) has the responsibility for dealing with nuclear waste, the nuclear power industry remains "on the dole".

Now, if you want to argue that those massive subsidies should continue so that nuclear power plants can continue to operate, that's fine.

But don't pretend to advocate ending "all government subsidies" for the energy sector when you are actually arguing for the continuation of those huge subsidies for nuclear power.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 4, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

"I think we could get to 100 billion pretty fast if we focused on corporate give aways."

Good luck. I remember how Obama tried that with the bailouts. No way he could stop it this time either. He tried though...

Posted by: Timbo on January 4, 2011 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe we can't get the oil and coal companies off the dole immediately, but Democrats fighting to do it would sure put some of the tea partiers on notice that their elected Republicans are not really loyal to the Tea Party cause. I would love to see the Republicans take some hits on this.

I don't care what the Republicans do or think. My concern is with the Democrats. Many of them are in the thrawl of the oil and coal companies.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Many of them are in the thrawl of the oil and coal companies."


Oddly, many are in the thrall of the financial industry as well...Can't explain it really Ron, but I'm sure it is good.

Posted by: Hoping for Change on January 4, 2011 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I love the idea. It's simple, and it's a great wedge for the GOP.

Force them to choose between the the pork barrel, subsidy-laden tax code or a free market approach that levels the playing field and enhances revenues without increasing tax rates. Then we all can see the actual priorities.

Many GOP heads would explode. Added benefit: some egregious conservaDem/Blue Dog heads would explode, too.

Posted by: danimal on January 4, 2011 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Added benefit: some egregious conservaDem/Blue Dog heads would explode, too.


In other words, no "Democrats" would be left alive.

Posted by: Progress on January 4, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hoping for Change, I am hoping for change too, but considering Obama is appointing another Wall Street puke to his inner circle, I don't expect much change as far as the financial industry is concerned. Sad, but the too big to fail banks are still too big to fail. The next time they fuck up we are going to bail them out again. Again, no heads will roll.

Thanks for reminding me of the correct way to spell thrall, by the way. Spelling was my worst subject in school.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 4, 2011 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be brilliant for the minority Democrats to propose this, loudly and repeatedly, and sit back and watch the fossil fuel party have to swat it down in public.

While trying to take away your medicare and social security.

Posted by: jjm on January 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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