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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Obama's stimulus became a special-interest feeding frenzy -- By Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner


President Obama came into office just over five years ago promising to reduce the power of corporate lobbyists and to increase government’s role in the economy.

In his first month, he showed that the two promises were incompatible. His $787 billion-dollar stimulus provided the lesson: Every time government gets bigger, some special interest is getting richer.

“President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package has put clean-tech companies in ‘a feeding frenzy,'” reported tech journal GigaOm in 2009, quoting industry analyst Jesse Berst.

Every special interest Obama had attacked or would later attack supported the law. From the Chamber of Commerce to General Electric, Big Business loved the stimulus.

Tech CEOs literally got access to the Oval Office while the bill was being shaped, the New York Times reported in those heady early days of Hope and Change, while the CEOs’ lobbyists met down the hall with top economics aide Jason Furman.

All this lobbying paid off, and the well-connected companies made out like bandits. “The biggest recipients so far of the federal contracts awarded with stimulus money are large companies that faced little competition for the funds,” the Wall Street Journal reported in September 2009. Of the 22,000 stimulus contracts, only 20 percent had gone to small businesses, the Journal found.

Green tech companies got plenty in the stimulus bill, including a 10 percent tax credit for people who convert their gas-powered cars into electric cars. Section 1603 of the law provided a “tax credit” for renewable-energy installations like solar panels or windmills. This “tax credit” is really just a check from the U.S. Treasury.

Section 1603 largely benefitted big business. The ten largest projects subsidized by Section 1603 (nine wind farms and one solar farm) pocketed $2.5 billion of the total $20.3 billion given out by the program. (This probably low-balls the actual share of the ten largest projects because of the Treasury Department’s opaque reporting.)

The second-largest 1603 project (as far as I can tell) is the Meadow Lake Wind Farm, which got $346 million of taxpayer money. The farm is owned by a U.S. subsidiary of Portuguese firm EDP Renováveis and, according to investigative reporting by Russ Choma, the turbines are made in Denmark and sit on 350-foot-tall poles made in Vietnam.

Installing the turbines created temporary jobs in the U.S., but otherwise this was a case of American taxpayers subsidizing foreign companies.


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