Well, this is a promising sign.
President Obama is announcing funding to break ground on the first new nuclear power plant in nearly three decades. In Lanham, Maryland Tuesday morning, Mr. Obama will announce the first loan guarantee for the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at a Southern Company plant in Burke, Georgia. Southern Company says approximately 3,000 onsite construction jobs and approximately 850 permanent operations jobs will be created and the facility will power 550,000 homes.
A White House official says in announcing this funding, President Obama is making good on a commitment to meet Republians half way. The official says “republicans who advocate for nuclear power have to recognize that we will not achieve a big boost in nuclear capacity unless we also create a system of incentives to make clean energy profitable.”
Now, I’m going to be polite and not draw a lot of attention to the fact that the President’s “system of incentives” is basically a $54 billion-dollar corporate welfare program that he would be railing against if the Republicans had proposed it. This is a big win for anyone who thinks we should have an energy policy that is both environmentally and economically sound. Republicans should be gracious to the President, praise him for his first tenatives steps toward that end, and encourage him to do more of it.
One of the things the GOP leadership should be saying to day is that the White House is right. We won’t get any greater nuclear energy production until there is profit in it. Unfortunately, the President has glommed onto the only solution progressives have: tax take money from people, launder it through the government, then give it back to them with strings and conditions attached.
If the White House is really interested in using profit as a carrot for its clean energy policy (and it should be), I suggest it take a good long look at our corporate tax rate, which is the second-highest in the developed world. In this case, once you throw in state corporate taxes, Southern Company would be better off building the plant in Canada, where the tax bite would be seven percent less or Mexico where it would be almost eleven percent less (Hint to you free trade foes. Want to know why companies move overseas? This taxes). Imagine how many clean-energy, economy boosting jobs could be created if companies could spend all their money, instead of the small cut they get back from Washington. Good stuff happens all around.
Why the only people who could be against a win-win setup like that are those who think they know how to spend your money better than you do. You know, those crazy control freake. Surely the President doesn’t want to be seen as one of those, right?