Herman Cain, a former Pizza-mogul turned GOP presidential candidate, sells himself as the only political outsider in the national race. But Cain’s relationship with the Koch brothers and their anti-clean energy “activist” group Americans for Prosperity suggests he is just another insider for the 1%.
Cain’s absurd claim that solar and wind “could at best provide only 5 percent of our total energy needs”– debunked below — makes clear he is happy to shill for the pollutocrats and against the 99%. German politicians have explained that they were able to cross the 20% renewable energy generation threshold last month and adopt policies that will achieve far higher penetration in the coming years, “Because we don’t have … the Koch Brothers.”
A WashPost story from this weekend explores why Cain’s relationship with the politically-influential Koch Brothers is “key” to his campaign:
Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has cast himself as the outsider, the pizza magnate with real-world experience who will bring fresh ideas to the nation’s capital. But Cain’s economic ideas, support and organization have close ties to two billionaire brothers who bankroll right-leaning causes through their group Americans for Prosperity.
Cain’s campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which lobbies for lower taxes and less government regulation and spending. Cain credits a businessman who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his “9-9-9” plan to rewrite the nation’s tax code. And his years of speaking at AFP events have given the businessman and radio host a network of loyal grassroots fans.
AFP tapped Cain as the public face of its “Prosperity Expansion Project,” and he traveled the country in 2005 and 2006 speaking to activists who were starting state-based AFP chapters from Wisconsin to Virginia. Through his AFP work he met Mark Block, a longtime Wisconsin Republican operative hired to lead that state’s AFP chapter in 2005 as he rebounded from an earlier campaign scandal that derailed his career.
The “9-9-9” flat-tax plan is, of course, just another effort by the 1% to shift more of the tax burden to the 99%.
Speaking to CNN’s John King this weekend, Cain trumpeted his relationship with AFP and the Kochs:
“I know the Koch brothers. The Koch brothers helped to start an organization called Americans For Prosperity and I did some speaking when they were starting that organization. I am very proud of the relationship I have with the Koch Brothers and Americans for Prosperity.”
“I don’t have a close relationship, but I know them and I respect them and they know me and they respect me.”
For anyone who cares about acting on climate change, deploying clean energy, or preserving public health, Americans for Prosperity are anathema. Bankrolled by the Kochs, the group has undertaken fake grassroots campaigns around the country in order to tear down carbon reduction programs, clean energy targets and environmental regulations. The group is undertaking an “Energy for America” bus tour this week to tout more oil, gas and coal extraction and discredit renewables.
Perhaps that’s why Cain is so proud of his relationship with AFP and the Kochs. His policy stances on renewable energy fit in perfectly with their vision of the world. In his book, This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House, Cain claims that renewable energy “will not bring us to energy independence.”
“Let’s face it, wind and solar energy development will not bring us to energy independence,” the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO wrote. “Even the Department of Energy’s ‘Billion Ton Study’ has shown that these two sources combined could at best provide only 5 percent of our total energy needs.”
In order to set the record straight, Politifact checked up on Cain’s claims and determined — surprise, surprise — that his claim was “false.” Here is an excerpted version of Politifact’s findings:
In fact, the “Billion Ton Study” mentions only solar and wind energy in passing. The crux of the report is to explore whether there’s enough biomass in the U.S. to replace 30 percent or more of the nation’s petroleum use. (Their answer is “yes,” assuming that certain policies and technologies are in place.) Now, just because Cain’s claim isn’t backed up by the “Billion Ton Study” doesn’t mean his broader point about solar and wind is wrong. We dug further.
All in all, Cain has it wrong on solar and wind energy. The federal government’s “Billion Ton Study” did not say that wind and solar energy combined “could at best provide only 5 percent of our total energy needs.”
The scientific consensus is that there is more than enough sunshine and wind to supply the nation’s total energy needs, experts told us, thanks to the wind-swept Great Plains and Texas and sun-baked states such as New Mexico.”I don’t think anybody can contend there isn’t enough. There’s more than enough,” said Noam Lior, who has studied solar and other alternative energy technologies and their potential at the University of Pennsylvania.
But could it actually happen? Could solar and wind actually provide, say, 10 percent of the nation’s total needs?
“It’s not just possible,” said Daniel Matisoff, who studies environmental policy at Georgia Tech. “It’s likely.”
For instance, a 2008 Energy Department report said it’s possible for wind energy to provide 20 percent of the nation’s electricity supply by 2030, with significant upgrades in the nation’s energy grid, policy changes that support the growth of the wind industry, and some wind turbine technology improvements.
Scientists think solar and wind alone can top 5 percent of the nation’s total needs with policy and infrastructure changes. They could even power the entire nation if the U.S. commits to an energy overhaul, though it would take a lot of resources, time, political will, and possibly some new technologies to get this done.
Cain earns a False.
And let’s not forget, Germany just crossed the 20% renewable energy generation threshold last month. German political leaders —even those in the most industrial parts of the country — are pushing for 35% by 2022. Why are they able to accomplish this task with strong political support across party lines? “Because we don’t have … the Koch Brothers,” explained Franz Untersteller, a German state minister for environment, climate and energy in a meeting at the Center for American Progress earlier this month.
Meanwhile, leading candidates like Cain spew false Americans for Prosperity talking points on the campaign trail in an attempt to move the U.S. further from true “prosperity” based on entrepreneurial innovation, environmental accountability and citizen empowerment through renewable energy and efficiency.