American Elephants

Cash for Caulkers Creates a Conflict of Interest! by The Elephant's Child

Remember way back when the War in Iraq began, and the media discovered that the company providing meals and laundry and putting up camps in Iraq was (gasp) Halliburton, and you know Dick Cheney used to be CEO of Halliburton and undue influence, crony capitalism, blah, blah, blah. The media desperately tried to find something untoward., but Mr. Cheney had severed his relations with the company which had a new CEO, and it was all a pack of nonsense.

So in the normal course of politics, each side keeps an eye on the other side for crony capitalism, favoritism, bribes and payoffs. It’s the way it is supposed to be, except the media is supposed to be an objective watchdog, which they have forgotten how to do.

The connections between the Obama administration and the unions seems to involve a number of those sins, and sooner or later, someone will write a book about the relationship. In the meantime, we have an interesting case of for-profit politics:

The Obama administration appointee who would run a proposed subsidy program dubbed “Cash for Caulkers” has intimate ties to a company that has lobbied for the bill and would profit from it.

Al Gore acolyte Cathy Zoi, the Energy Department official in charge of energy efficiency, has testified in favor of the caulkers bill, which the House passed last week. She would administer it if it became law and is married to an executive at a window company that has pushed for this legislation.

We have written before about Ms. Zoi’s troublesome potential to profit substantially from the activities she is supposed to administer.

The Chamber of Commerce — the embodiment of anti-government greed in Obama’s standard rhetoric — is lobbying hard for the bill, and has informed members of Congress that this will be one of the votes tallied on the chamber’s annual scorecard of lawmakers. Also working Congress in support of the measure are the National Association of Manufacturers, Dow Chemical, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the contracting industry and the window industry.

With all these supporters, Obama and the credulous media will declare it’s a consensus, and so it must be good. But really, the bill just spreads the corporate welfare strategically. It’s corporate welfare because the companies that sell the windows, insulation and services the bill subsidizes can now raise their prices, because consumers’ price tolerance goes up. So the subsidy is split between the companies and the homeowner. Americans without savings or equity with which to afford new windows are out of luck, as are renters. But they still foot the bill.

Well.  Conflict of interest.  Corporate Welfare.  Crony capitalism.  As Timothy Carney says, “when government injects itself more deeply into the economy, opportunities for cronyism come with the territory.”  It is still deeply unseemly.  Ms. Zoi should go, or the program should go, preferably the latter.  What a dishonest scam.

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