Bipartisanship comes at cost to taxpayers

Freedom New Mexico

After his State of the Union address, we expected environmental groups to protest President Barack Obama’s declaration to advance nuclear power. We’re pleased the outrage already spans the political spectrum, with many stops in between. Add us to the complainers.

The new federal budget proposes to triple loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, from $18.5 billion to $54 billion. This worsens a bad situation. As usual in Washington, it also relies on taxpayers to pay for the grief.

Obama’s nuclear power push irritates environmentalists, to whom all things nuclear are nonstarters. But the president proposed this payoff to the nuclear lobby to win GOP support for his horrendous energy bill, stalled in Congress. The greenhouse-gas limiting legislation was bad enough already with the crippling economic consequences of its carbon cap-and-trade regulations. Obama’s commitment would pile on even more federal interference and potential costs. Some critics rightly describe the scheme as another potential multibillion dollar federal bailout when loans begin to default.

We are on record supporting nuclear development, perhaps in the long run the most realistic way to ease, if not eliminate, American reliance, on foreign oil. But, unlike the president, we want a leveling of the playing field, not the federal government tipping the scales to favor the alternative-energy source du jour.

Federal loan guarantees no doubt would result in loans made that otherwise wouldn’t be. Does this sound familiar? The housing collapse was partly the result of similar lending practices encouraged by the federal government.

Loan guarantees essentially bribe taxpaying corporations with their own and others’ tax money. These targeted beneficiaries will be given assurances that if they can’t make their loan payments, the government will — with taxpayers’ money. Other companies and all individual taxpayers, who don’t go into the nuclear power plant building business, will be on the hook for those that do.

This is government’s insidious practice of using tax money to bribe companies to do what the government wants them to do. Knuckle under, and the government will back you — with your own and others’ taxes. But the government, as Obama amply demonstrated with this proposal, is fickle. Today, nuclear power. Tomorrow, what? Windmills?

We agree with the Heritage Foundation that federal loan guarantees may help bring online a handful of new nuclear reactors, but also will penalize taxpayers and consumers while stifling competition and retarding technological development for alternatives.

The fact that some Republicans are pleased with Obama’s proposal shows compromised integrity is bipartisan. Republicans are against big, coercive government — until big, coercive government cuts a check to them or their friends. They seem oblivious to being bribed with their own money, or their neighbors’ money. The government lures them shamelessly into a pure money grab. That’s how government plays favorites. It’s not only counterproductive, it’s wrong.