Cash for bil­lion­aires

Se­nate Democrats push to sub­si­dize the 1 per­cent

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

Democrats are fond of play­ing the class­war­fare card in call­ing for tax hikes on “mil­lion­aires and bil­lion­aires.” It’s their way of pre­tend­ing to stand for the lit­tle guy. The lat­est ac­tions in the Se­nate, how­ever, show they stand more with the ul­tra-wealthy than with mid­dle-class tax­pay­ers.

Oil and gas ty­coon T. Boone Pick­ens joins Demo­cratic su­per donor Ge­orge Soros in be­ing among the big­gest ben­e­fi­cia­ries if Sen. Robert Me­nen­dez suc­ceeds in at­tach­ing a mea­sure known as the NAT GAS Act to the trans­porta­tion bill now un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. The New Jer­sey Demo­crat’s pro­posal of­fers sub­si­dies of up to $64,000 to buy­ers of ve­hi­cles pow­ered by nat­u­ral gas, up to $100,000 for cor­po­rate re­fu­el­ing sta­tions and $200,000,000 for ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion.

Sounds like a win­ner if you’re in the nat­u­ral gas busi­ness. Mr. Pick­ens founded what is now Clean En­ergy Fu­els Corp., the largest provider of nat­u­ral gas fuel for trans­porta­tion in the North Amer­ica. Mr. Soros in­vested a great deal of money in West­port In­no­va­tions, a com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in nat­u­ral gas en­gines.

Un­like ex­pen­sive wind and so­lar power boon­dog­gles, nat­u­ral gas is a “clean” power source that can make sense for cer­tain op­er­a­tions. The cost of diesel fuel, for in­stance, has dou­bled in the past three years. By com­par­i­son, nat­u­ral gas prices have fallen from their July 2008 peak of $13 per mil­lion BTU to $2.50 to­day. That com­pet­i­tive price point is all the in­cen­tive that the free mar­ket needs.

Washington politi­cians too of­ten don’t trust the mar­ket and want to anoint the win­ners and losers. What that leads to is an econ­omy where the most pros­per­ous com­pa­nies are not the ones that cre­ate the best prod­ucts, but the ones with the best lob­by­ing teams and the largest po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions.

The trans­porta­tion bill’s prospects are murky. Wran­gling in the House over spend­ing lev­els and al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources has cre­ated an im­passe. As this hot potato is tossed around on Capi­tol Hill, the law­mak­ers need to en­sure the final ver­sion rec­og­nizes that Mr. Pick­ens and Mr. Soros do not de­serve spe­cial help for their busi­ness. They can do just fine with­out fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from tax­pay­ers.

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