Big-spending Republicans should be afraid following the upset victories by Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz in Texas last week, over the establishment candidate David Dewhurst, and Richard Mourdock, over six-term incumbent Richard Lugar, in Indiana on May 9. On Thursday, Washington Post editorial board member, Jonathan Capeheart said: “Folks might not like the Tea Party much. But that’s not stopping this loosely affiliated band of people fed up with government spending and deficits from sending like-minded souls to Congress.”
Bloomberg News said of the Cruz victory: “The Tea Party has no leader, no hierarchy and no national fundraising network, yet the insurgent political movement born of frustration at government spending has bolstered its clout—and its potential for aggravation—in the Republican Party with the nomination of U.S. Senate candidate and political newcomer Ted Cruz in Texas.”
The common thread in these quotes: “people fed up with government spending” and “born of frustration at government spending,” highlights the heart of the Tea Party movement—even though, is it just a “loosely affiliated band of people” with “no leader, no hierarchy and no national funding network.” The recent upsets reflect the grassroots’ growing dissatisfaction with the Republican Party’s failure to control spending.
Other than the August 14 senate race in Wisconsin where Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde are battling each other for the tea party backing in the race with establishment candidate, former governor Tommy Thompson, the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy may be the next line of battle between the Tea Party Republicans and establishment Republicans hesitant to curb their big-spending ways.
I have written several columns in opposition to the PTC extension, but if you are not familiar with it, David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation explains it this way: “The wholesale prices of electricity in the different U.S. markets average from less than three cents per kilowatt hour (kW-h) to about 4.5 cents per kW-h. The PTC provides a subsidy of 2.2 cents per kW-h to wind energy producers. So this PTC subsidy is equivalent to 50 percent to 70 percent of the wholesale price of electricity.” To which Phil Kerpen of American Commitment adds: “So taxpayers pick up more than half the cost for wind power—and even then many wind projects are struggling. It will never work, at any cost, because the concept of large-scale industrial wind power is based on bad science.”
When thinking about the PTC, it is important to realize that we, the taxpayers, have already been subsidizing the wind energy industry for more than 20 years and that the wind energy lobbyists, advocates, and manufacturers acknowledge that if the PTC is not extended, the industry cannot survive.
Surprisingly, the first shot in the spend/don’t spend battle over the extension of the PTC came from the “moderate” presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, when he came out on Monday with a statement regarding allowing the “longstanding tax credits that help finance wind energy projects” to expire, as scheduled, at the end of this year—a position in line with the Tea Party’s “frustration at government spending.”