GOP Congressman: Support Renewables, But Get Government Out Of The Market

While most of the political world was glued to the Democratic convention Thursday night, Congressman Steve King (R-IA) debated Democratic challenger Christie Vilsack on local radio station WHO 1040.

King, who has called climate scientists “frauds” doing “the modern version of the rain dance, touted his support for wind power and other renewable fuels as a means of helping the local economies. That’s right, of course, but in the same thought King condemns government intervention into the marketplace — a direct contradiction with his support for providing government subsidies to clean energy:

The prosperity that we have enjoyed is a result of a lot of things; risk-taking capital, trying to get government out of the way, trying to reduce the intrusiveness of the federal government. And I don’t want to go back from that — I think our job is let people have their freedom, let them use their individual responsibilities to grow and strengthen families and life and marriage and free enterprise and farms and business and communities. And, by the way, the very best thing that has come along for small communities in Iowa, around 950 of them, has been renewable fuels, and I’m fortunate that I’ve been in the middle of that for a long, long time.


SoundCloud WidgetEdit descriptionw.soundcloud.comKing thinks there’s no tension here — he sees his support for a wind tax credit as a tax cut that’s consistent with a broader minimalist worldview about the role of government. However, targeted tax cuts are a form of government intervention into the market — the government is providing a certain industry a financial advantage to promote its growth. From an economic perspective, there’s no difference between a tax cut and a subsidy, as both involve taking money from the government and giving it to a targeted sector of the economy. King’s support for a wind tax credit suggests that government can, in fact, play in an important role in fuelling economic growth, especially in the renewable energy sector.


Indeed, King’s own Iowa is testament to that fact. As he says, renewable fuels are “the very best thing” for Iowans, creating thousands of jobs and attracting billions of investment dollars due in large part to state and federal support. It’s a shame, then, that Mitt Romney can’t recognize a point that’s pretty clear to his Republican allies on the ground.