It’s time for tough love on tax credits for the mature wind industry

Commentary by Marita Noon - Is the lame duck Congress oblivious to the message voters sent to Washington last month? Or, are they intentionally ignoring it in favor of special interests? A pending vote on a tax-extenders package—that would have a slim chance of passage in the new Congress—will reveal whether or not they learned anything from the 2014 midterms.
      Throughout 2014, since the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the wind energy industry expired on December 31, 2013, lobbyists from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) have pushed Congress to vote to retroactively revive the PTC. So far, sound fiscal thinking has prevailed. The lame duck session provides their last opportunity to hand over hard-earned American tax dollars to big business, and pile national debt on future generations.
      The PTC provides one of the best examples of the worst kind of taxpayer waste being considered in a tax-extenders deal. The largest benefactors of the credit (underwritten by U.S. taxpayers) are wind energy turbine manufacturers like General Electric (which purchased Enron’s wind turbine business in 2002), and investors like Warren Buffet, who, without apology, recently admitted: “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”
      The U.S. wind energy business started as a gleam in Enron’s eye, enjoyed an entitled childhood at taxpayer expense, and, by now, should have blossomed into an adult. Instead, now, at the tail end of this Congressional session, the industry—by way of AWEA lobbyists—has its hand out for a ninth round of “free” taxpayer money. These dollars, which get transferred from hard-working taxpayers to big corporations and billionaires, are borrowed from our children, with the paper being sold overseas in what is known as “national debt.”
      For this lame duck Congress, AWEA’s panhandling should be as welcome as grown children returning home for financial support—“just one more time.” Like parents, possessing the kind of wisdom that often only crystalizes in our fifties, Congress must now realize the inevitable: sometimes seeing our dependents grow up to be independent requires tough love and a line in the sand. Though it is hard, most parents know saying “no” is part of the process of having children that grow into mature, responsible adults. Read full column


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