Today, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chairman of the U.S. Senate Republican Conference, called on President Obama to figure out how to make Alexander’s pipe dream of “100 new nuclear power plants in 20 years” actually work, because he hasn’t been able to figure it out. Alexander’s “blueprint” is part of what had been billed as “new climate change legislation” from the GOP, an alternative to the Democratic American Clean Energy and Security Act recently passed by the House of Representatives. The Wonk Room attended Alexander’s unveiling of the blueprint at the National Press Club. As it turns out, Alexander’s “plan” for how the United States would double the number of nuclear power plants in twenty years was really just to ask President Obama to make it so:
What is needed boils down to two words: “presidential leadership.”
Watch a compilation of Alexander pleading for President Obama to make his dreams into real live policy:
As he described his attempt to devise a nuclear-dependent energy policy, Alexander complained, “I wish I didn’t have to do that. I think the president should be doing that!” When a reporter said he was “still confused what you want the government to do,” Alexander’s big idea was to have President Obama “direct the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to give him a plan.”
Alexander seemed genuinely baffled that President Obama is choosing to implement the clean energy and climate plan Obama promoted as a presidential candidate, instead of Alexander’s “nuclear plant in every backyard” plan, more than twice the number of plants promoted last year by losing candidate John McCain (R-AZ).
When not begging Obama for help, Alexander argued the American Clean Energy and Security Act should be “junked” because it is a “$100 billion a year job-killing national energy tax that will create a new utility bill for every American family.” In fact, non-partisan analyses show the legislation supported by Obama would lower utility bills, reduce coal and oil dependence, and clean up the planet at a cost of a postage stamp a day.
Even though Alexander claimed that his new-nukes plan would lower utility bills, he later admitted that all the cost of building 100 new $7 billion nuclear plants should be paid for entirely with “ratepayers’ money” — in other words, a “new utility bill” of $700 billion. The reason Obama isn’t jumping on the Alexander-McCain-nuclear lobbyist bandwagon is because Alexander’s plan boils down to one word: dumb.