Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Budget:  Budget Hawks, Enviro Doves Offer Budget Cuts

The Heartland Institute and Friends of the Earth don't agree on much of anything. Heartland, based in Chicago, is a free-market think tank widely viewed with suspicion by environmentalists. Friends, as its name suggests, is a progressive environmental advocacy group that's fought for action on climate change. Neither of them, though, can stand the federal government's flood insurance program.
Uncle Sam's ledger is in fact full of similar initiatives that sit within the overlapping crosshairs of organizations that would otherwise never be caught on the same conference call — green groups, tax hawks and free-market hard-liners. Friends of the Earth, along with Taxpayers for Common Sense, has been compiling a list of such programs for 16 years. Their regular manifesto is called the Green Scissors report.

Wednesday, they released the latest version, produced with the added buy-in of the Heartland Institute and left-leaning consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. And this year, the report carries new significance. Think of it, said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, as a memo to the congressional super-committee.

The groups have identified $380 billion in savings over five years that could come from eliminating subsidies they say are both fiscally and environmentally irresponsible.

Among the subsidies that could be eliminated, many of which require taxpayers to pay the bill for pollution and assume the risk for failure: royalty-free oil and gas leases in federal waters ($53 billion), the corn ethanol tax credit ($6 billion), loan guarantees for nuclear power plant construction ($18.5 billion) and crop insurance ($30 billion).

For more, see Budget Hawks, Enviro Doves Offer Budget Cuts by Emily Badger, August 24, 2011 at Miller-McCune.

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