"But that’s still not a reason for taxpayers to foot the bill. It’s a reason for the actual research and development to be paid for by the companies that will profit from this long-promised breakthrough, and if they’re not willing to finance it with their own money, we have no business forcing our constituents to finance them with theirs" -- Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA), House Chamber, June 1, 2012
House Chamber, Washington, D.C.
Amendment debate on H.R. 5325 (Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act)
This amendment saves nearly one and a half billion dollars by ending the failed Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program.
If we’re serious about an “all of the above energy policy” we’ve got to stop using taxpayer money to pick winners and losers based on their political connections, and instead require every energy company to compete on its own merits as decided by the customers it attracts by offering better products at lower cost.
For too long we have suffered from the conceit that politicians can make better energy investments with taxpayer money than investors can make with their own money. It is this conceit that has produced the continuing spectacle of collapsing energy scandals epitomized by the Solyndra fiasco.
At least Solyndra was funded from a loan program in which the public has a chance to get some of its money back when these dubious schemes go bankrupt.
This amendment eliminates direct spending that funds commercialization projects for ideologically pleasing technologies and the politically-favored firms that make them – money taxpayers have no chance of recovering after it is spent.
This amendment, and the two that I will take up shortly, protect taxpayers from being forced into being venture capitalists by incompetent politicians, it gets government out of the energy business and requires all energy companies and all energy technologies to compete equally and on their own merits.
Most of the money in this program goes to wind, solar and car R&D subsidies.
We’re told that’s necessary to nurture these new and promising technologies.
But they are not new and they are not promising. Photovoltaic cells, for example, were invented by French Physicist Edmund Becquerel in 1839, and in more than 170 years of technological research and innovation and billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies, we have not yet invented a more expensive way to generate electricity. So we hide its true costs to consumers through subsidies taken from their taxes.
Nor is there any earthly reason why taxpayers should be forced to serve as the Research and Development Department for General Motors or for any other company or technology.
We are told that someday, this research might pay us back many times over. We’ve been told this for 40 years. I hope someday these promises will be redeemed.
But that’s still not a reason for taxpayers to foot the bill. It’s a reason for the actual research and development to be paid for by the companies that will profit from this long-promised breakthrough, and if they’re not willing to finance it with their own money, we have no business forcing our constituents to finance them with theirs.
All we have accomplished with these programs is to take dollars that would have naturally flowed into the most effective and promising technologies and divert them into those that are politically favored.
This misallocation of resources not only destroys jobs in productive ventures, it ends up minimizing our energy potential instead of maximizing it and destroying our wealth instead of creating it.
Mr. Chairman, voters entrusted Republicans with the House majority with a very specific mandate to stop wasting money. Moreover, the House is where spending bills must originate. The government doesn’t spend a dollar unless the House says it will spend that dollar.
A day doesn’t go by that we don’t hear an indictment of Solyndra and its multiplying scandals. And yet here we have the Republican energy appropriations bill that continues to shovel billions of dollars after the very conceit that produced Solyndra.
Politicians love to appear at ribbon cuttings and issue self-congratulatory press releases at government-supported “alternative energy” businesses, but they fall strangely silent when asked to actually account for the billions of our dollars they’ve wasted.
That day of reckoning has arrived. These policies are impoverishing our country. Our taxpayers are exhausted. Our treasury is empty. It is time – in fact, it is past time -- that the House majority proved worthy of the trust the American people gave it more than a year and a half ago.
Amendment offered on June 1, 2012 by Congressman McClintock to H.R.5325 (Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act). The amendment failed by a vote of 113 AYES to 275 NOES. Related amendments eliminating subsidies for fossil fuel http://mcclintock.house.gov/2012/06/amendment-5-to-hr-5325----fossil-fuels.shtml and nuclear http://mcclintock.house.gov/2012/06/amendment-3-to-hr-5325----nuclear-energy-subsidies.shtml.
Congressman McClintock's website: http://mcclintock.house.gov/