flickr photo courtesy of visulogik
If the supercommittee tasked with finding more than a trillion dollars to cut from the federal budget needs some advice, we have it for them.
Public Citizen and three other organizations today issued a new report, “Green Scissors 2011,” outlining $380 billion in environmentally harmful subsidies that should be trimmed. That would go a long way toward solving our nation’s budget challenges. The other groups are Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and The Heartland Institute. Yes, we know, The Heartland Institute is a really conservative, free-market think tank. As Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said during a press conference call today, the fact that people from such varying perspectives can come together and agree on something means that it’s doable, and the supercommittee ought to do it too.
The groups propose cutting many fossil fuel, nuclear and alternative energy subsidies (like ethanol). Other targets include massive giveaways of publicly owned timber, poorly conceived road projects and a bevy of questionable Army Corps of Engineers water projects.
Time magazine has a good take on the report. Wrote Michael Grunwald:
Hopefully, the congressional Super-Duper Cuts Committee will take a look at this report before it starts slashing Social Security or food stamps or public transit or vaccinations or other government programs with legitimate public purposes.
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and former U.S. Rep. Robert Inglis of South Carolina joined the press conference call. Inglis wisely noted that if conservatives get locked into the Grover Norquist school of thought, in which every time a subsidy is rescinded it’s called a tax increase, “we will never move forward.”
Watch out for corporate junk economics on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, has reportedly asked more than 150 trade associations, corporations and think tanks to provide a wish list of public health, environmental and other public protections that they would like to see eliminated. The purported rationale for such an effort is to spur growth, but in fact this is the cutting edge of a movement to trade away public health, clean air and a stable economy to gin up corporate profits already at record highs.
If Rep. Issa actually wants to focus on job preservation and growth, he might consider the following:
We’ve said time and again that the revolving door between the federal government and the industries they work with is spinning out of control. Well, between the government and the oil and gas industry, it’s spinning even crazier than ever.
The Washington Post wrote today that three out of every four — that’s right, 75 percent — oil and gas lobbyists worked for the federal government before switching over to the industry side of things.
Key lobbying hires include 18 former members of Congress and dozens of former presidential appointees. For other senior management positions, the industry employs two former directors of the Minerals Management Service, the since-renamed agency that regulates the industry, and several top officials from the Bush White House. Federal inspectors once assigned to monitor oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico have landed jobs with the companies they regulated.
Looking at BP’s lobbyists alone, 71 percent previously worked for the federal government, according to data released in June by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics.
No wonder there was such a cozy relationship that Big Oil was able to manipulate the former Minerals and Management Service (MMS) into getting just what they want: lax regulation.
Although it seems to be the worst with the oil and gas industry, it tends to be a trend among others, as well. The Center for Responsive Politics found that fewer than one in three registered lobbyists in 2009 had revolving door connections — less than half the oil industry rate.
Currently, 12 senators and 35 representatives are not seeking re-election to their current offices. Where will they work next? Help us make sure they don’t head for the private-sector industry they’ve already gotten to know so well.
Sign Public Citizen’s petition to stop the revolving door between government and industry.