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President Obama found himself in a pajama party of Republican bedfellows during a campaign stop at our state fair recently. The odd pairings of beach blanket bingo were brought about because Obama supports a renewal of subsidies for wind power generation.
It puts Obama in bed with none other than Republican President George H.W. Bush, who signed into law The Production Tax Credit (PTC) in 1992. Besides subsidizing wind, PTC also promoted other renewable energy sources including solar and geothermal.
It probably didn’t hurt that Texas stood to gain immensely by the credit, its breezy plains perfect for wind production. Indeed, Texas leads all states. Wind also looked like it would work well in Iowa, and it has: the Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain state is second in production in electricity (and a leader in length of state motto).
A cynic might think Bush only supported the bill because it looked good in his home state and Iowa, a place that curries favor everywhere due to its first in the nation caucuses. But give Bush credit; he led a bi-partisan effort to get PTC enacted and it has been successful across the country. Besides generating clean, renewable energy it has created thousands of jobs.
Actually, at first, it looked as PTC had no effect at all.
For six years, total wind powered energy being produced in the U.S. stayed flat at near zero. Then in 1998 production popped a little to 250 megawatts (MW) and expanded exponentially to 47,000 MW a year by the end of 2011. Roughly translated, power for 30 million homes is now being provided through clean, renewable wind. Jobs have followed. In Iowa alone, 7,000 workers have been added. The blades of each windmill could be thought of as fingers waving goodbye to dependence to foreign oil.
Supporting PTC also puts Obama in bed with longtime Iowa Republican Governor Robert D. Ray. Ray signed in 1983 the Iowa law requiring investor-owned utilities to buy 105MW from wind energy producers. The progressive move assured big investors that there would be a market for the energy. It also ensured that homeowners installing residential scale windmills would be able to sell or meter back excess energy produced at any given time, an important feature as wind production varies greatly day to day due to the weather.
Wind is funny. Sometimes it blows hot, sometimes it blows cold and sometimes it doesn’t blow at all.
Speaking of hot air blowing, the final tryst finds Obama in bed with the most unlikely playmate of all, Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, an outspoken to the point of being zany and/or dangerous fiscal and social conservative. King is on record as saying that if Obama was elected, “then radical Islamists would be dancing in the streets greater than they did on 9/11.” King is also a leading opponent of the health care initiative passed by the Obama administration, and one of 11 congressmen to vote no on the Katrina Hurricane Package.
But as much as he hates Obama and embraces being a skinflint, King is a champion of PTC; he has to because the lion’s share of Iowa wind jobs created are in his district. Go to his web page and look at his photograph. His blue-eyed, smiling mug is actually smaller than the row of windmills it is superimposed over.
It’s said there are no atheists in foxholes, and likewise there are no fiscal conservatives when it means paychecks for voters in the district.
President Bush and Governor Ray were true leaders who compromised to create a really good thing and yet unlikely bedfellows for Obama. King is brought into Obama’s boudoir for the money, and we all know what that makes him.