Fenger Pointing

Becky Fenger | April 14, 2010

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Becky FengerRebates and reprobates

Behold the headlines proclaiming that Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project are cutting the amount of cash they pay out to customers who put solar panels on their roofs because the program is so gosh-darn popular that it is running out of money. Who would have thought that handing out money, taken from other customers by force, to people to purchase a product would get folks to hold out their palms?

This rush to the rebates reminds me of the alternative fuels fiasco that darn near broke the state's bank a decade ago. The late Jeff Groscost, as Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, sponsored a bill wherein purchasers of vehicles capable of running on alternative fuels got big bucks from the State without ever having to use that capability.
Groscost got paid $10,000 a year on the side to really strong-arm legislators to pass the bill.
There was no environmental study of the program done by any state agency before the bill got the green light. If that had been done, we would have found out that spending all that money would do virtually nothing to clean the air as promised. But Cost/Benefits studies are so last century.

The funny part is that then-Governor Jane Hull berated Groscost for the disaster while at the same time sitting on her thumbs after learning the state was bleeding millions of dollars a day. The not-so-funny part is that wealthy folks like bankers and insurance company executives whose other car was a Mercedes took taxpayer money to cover over half the cost of their new rides. When will we ever learn?

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The buzz is all about who will replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's name appears on the short list. However, Paul Bender of Arizona State University's Law School opines that Big Sis is too contentious to be nominated. She riled folks with her comments about U.S. security when the "underwear" bomber fizzled in his attempt to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253. And plenty more.

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It's a hoot to listen to commentators laugh at U.S. Senator John McCain as he claims he is not now, and never has been, a maverick. The word appears on the cover of his book, was a slogan in his presidential campaign and was used fondly within the last month by his V.P. running mate, Sarah Palin. Oh, J.D., look what you did to him!

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Last week Mitt Romney won the 2012 Presidential Straw Poll at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, beating out Congressman Ron Paul by one vote. Running third was Sarah Palin. His victory surprises me. Not because Romney didn't attend the event, but because he still defends the comprehensive health care system installed in Massachusetts while he was at the helm as governor.

No matter how much Romney tries to point out the differences between the new national health care bill and his Massachusetts plan, he can't escape the fact that Obamacare carries the DNA of his plan. As reported in the Boston Globe, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber is quoted as saying, "Basically, it's the same thing." Gruber advised both the Romney and Obama administrations on their health insurance programs. "A national health overhaul would not have happened if Mitt Romney had not made the decision in 2005 to go for it. He is in many ways the intellectual father of national health reform," Gruber claims. If so, that's scary. It's one thing to attempt reform and have it go sour; it's quite another to keep defending a system that is costing many, many times the estimate and is bleeding the state dry.

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New York Times columnist Paul Krugman took U.S. Senator Jon Kyl to task for stating that generous unemployment benefits can reduce the incentive to look for new work. "What Democrats believe is what textbook economics says," Krugman sniffed. What happened next is simply delicious. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal checked an economics textbook which stated, "Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect ... In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker's incentive to quickly find a new job." The author? Paul Krugman!