In the Washington Monthly, Jeffrey Leonard argues that the president and Congress should join together to kill all energy subsidies. While sorting out what is and isn’t an energy subsidy can be tricky (the U.S. tax code isn’t exactly transparent in all respects), and I doubt a political majority can actually stomach the thought of pulling the plug on everything, still it is an appealing idea.
Here’s Leonard on the political moment that makes the idea at least conceivable:
So we find ourselves in a new political moment when for the first time it is possible to imagine an alliance of GOP libertarians, disaffected environmentalists, and budget hawks coming together for a grand deal that would sweep away sixty years of bad energy policy. Obama should seize the moment to bring this coalition together in support of a single objective: to eliminate all government subsidies and tax credits on production of allprimary sources of energy. Of course, he’d have to abandon his own long-held support for ethanol (the tax deal his administration brokered with the GOP in December included a twelve-month extension of the VEETC).
Yes, I’d object to several parts of the article. I’m not a fan of energy efficiency for energy efficiency’s sake – after all, it isn’t as if energy resources are the only thing to care about. But sundry points aside, the article contributes to a necessary discussion about getting the government out of the business of picking winners in the energy supply industry.