Solar Tariffs Expose Administration’s Crony Intentions

by David Bier on May 23, 2012

in Blog

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Last week, the Obama administration rolled out new tariffs on Chinese solar manufacturers. These new taxes will make solar energy more expensive, which will make environmentalists’ clean energy dream even more difficult to obtain. In other words, this action shows conclusively that this industry exists to benefit Obama Inc., not the American public.

Obama’s excuse for this move is that China subsidizes their solar industry and sells the panels here at a loss. Forget the absurd hypocrisy for a moment—what this argument really amounts to is an admission that the solar panel industry exists, not for the sake of the American consumer—that is, society in general—but for solar panel producers themselves. President Obama sees the industry collapsing all around him and has chosen to use government force to save it, another sly-bailout for the Bailout King.

China has decided to sell America solar panels at a loss. That’s true, but imagine if McDonald’s decided to do that. Should the government step in and subsidize Burger King, or should Americans just take advantage of the stupidity? You would think that Obama would be happy that another government is subsidizing his clean energy economy, but again, his tariff decision shows that he’s not actually interested in “clean energy” per se. He’s interested in the votes and campaign cash that the clean energy industry brings.

As Peter Schweizer, Hoover Institute Fellow and Throw Them All Out author, points out seventy-five percent of the Department of Energy green energy subsidies went to Obama bundlers or campaign members. Of the $20 billion in grants and loans, $16 billion went to “Obama-related companies,” notes Schweizer. “By that I mean either the chief executive or leading investor was a member of his campaign finance committee or was a bundler for his campaign.”

The Obama administration has lost a subsidy war and has started a trade war, all for the benefit of one politically favored industry. As China officials quickly pointed out, this tariff “will hurt both countries because China imports a large amount of raw materials and equipment from the U.S. to produce solar panels, and it exports such goods to the U.S.” But these industries aren’t as politically connected as the many wannabe Solyndras.

Crony-capitalism dressed in green rhetoric is still crony capitalism. It’s one reason that Congress should adopt a “Gift Clause,” which would ban all corporate subsidies. Only then would we have a true “level playing field” that Obama has advocated so many times.

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