Rick Berg Loves Obamanomics

Rep. Rick Berg was in Grand Forks today, and gave an interview with the Grand Forks Herald after touring the LM Wind Power factory located there. The company says they need wind power subsidies to continue because, shockingly, demand for wind power drops to almost nothing without them.

And Rep. Berg? Well, he wants to keep the subsidies going too. Because, according to him, we should “invest” tax dollars in areas that are “creating jobs.”

Earlier in the day, Berg toured the LM Wind Power factory in Grand Forks to hear from company officials about expansion plans.

Dan Gordon, senior manager for human resources, said the facility has hired 110 in the past two months and plans to hire another 150 in the next two months. That will bring LM Wind Power’s total staff to about 700, he said, and the company wants to expand its Grand Forks facility to keep up with growing demand.

But Richard Pettifor, the company’s commercial director, said that growth faces a challenge: A “significant” federal wind energy production tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year, unless Congress extends it.

The incentive has expired three times, and Pettifor said each lapse caused demand for new wind energy installations to “drop off a cliff.” Demand fell between 73 percent and 93 percent in 1999, 2001 and 2003 when the tax credit was allowed to expire.

“That’s the dilemma we have at the moment,” he said. “We’re expanding, and we’re employing another 260 people here in Grand Forks. But will those jobs continue? That really is the lack of visibility we have.”

Pettifor said he is “pretty confident” Congress will extend the tax credit eventually, and Berg also said he was optimistic about getting enough support to keep the incentive in place.

“What we need to do in Congress, we need to look at those things that are creating jobs and helping our economy grow,” he said. “Those are the things we need to be investing in.”

Just to be clear, this is exactly the same sort of thing President Obama said about his stimulus spending. That we should “invest” it in creating green jobs, etc., etc. That sort of governing philosophy is was brought us Solyndra and a host of other green energy debacles.

Let’s be honest: Wind power is a bad investment. Even the folks at LM Wind Power admit that, without government subsidies, demand for the products they’re producing pretty much doesn’t exist. Wind power, because it is expensive and unreliable, isn’t competitive in the energy markets. Therefore it is only an industry insofar as the taxpayers are made to subsidize it.

But we’re all supposed to look the other way as the subsidy recipients cozy up to the politicians who dole out the subsidies because, after our tax dollars are redistributed appropriately, some jobs are created or something.

This is the sort of economic thinking conservatives are supposed to oppose. The American dream should be individuals pursuing their own prosperity, not Americans looking to collect a government check, work for the government or go into business with the government.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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