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Where Are The Energy Stamps, Joe?

Washington Examiner

August 31, 2023

As summer temperatures rise , the Biden administration has pushed its green energy agenda hard — all the while ignoring the financial pain those policies disproportionately cause lower-income Americans.

Last month, the Department of Transportation released fuel economy standards constituting a de facto mandate to purchase new electric vehicles. With the average EV price exceeding $60,000 , government subsidies may help the well-off but do nothing for lower-income consumers who can afford only gas-powered vehicles.

The administration’s green energy vision also includes mandating carbon-free electricity by 2035, requiring massive expansions in costly wind, solar, and other renewable energy. In states such as New York that have imposed their own carbon-free mandates , prices are already rising. As former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey recently noted : “Some 10 million New Yorkers who rely on Con Edison for their electricity were warned last month that their electric bills are going up 9% next month and could double by 2025.”

Lower-income households experience the most pain from policies that raise the price of energy. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office testified over a decade ago that higher energy prices “impose a larger burden, relative to income, on low-income households than on high-income households.”

Politicians used to admit green energy policies caused financial hardship. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama noted that under his green policies, electricity prices would “ necessarily skyrocket ” due to increased coal and natural gas costs. As one climate expert summarized , Obama’s goal was “limiting the use of fossil fuels,” which required “making them more expensive and pushing people toward green alternatives that remain pricier and less efficient.”

That’s why, as Democrats drafted 2009 legislation designed to impose green energy plans on the country, they also touted a massive new welfare program to alleviate the pain on those hardest hit. Proponents initially contemplated providing “ energy stamps ” to up to two-thirds of U.S. households. Advocates euphemistically called the new benefit “ climate rebates ,” which legislators ultimately proposed for the bottom 20% of households by income.

The 2009 push failed to pass and thus the would-be energy stamps program never got off the ground. But the green energy agenda marches on, with the Biden administration striving to outlaw fossil fuels and enforce dependence on higher-priced and less reliable green energy. Climate czar John Kerry even admitted that “50% of the reductions we have to make (to get to near zero emissions) by 2050 or 2045 are going to come from technologies we don’t yet have.”

Except this time the policy shift has not been paired with energy stamps or equivalent measures designed to protect lower-income households. Why not?

One reason might be the administration’s continued push to revive child allowances , which temporarily paid monthly checks to tens of millions of U.S. households in 2021. Democrats feverishly argued those enlarged benefits, paid even to parents who don’t work , thus reviving work-free welfare , reduced poverty. As they seek to revive those checks , it would be awkward to admit their energy policies are making the same families poorer, requiring yet another new government spending program to mitigate the pain. That millions of families are currently losing government health and food stamp benefits as the pandemic recedes only reinforces that point.

Then there’s the matter of cost. Just reviving the child allowance payments made in 2021 would cost well over $1 trillion over the next decade. Democrats are committed to reviving that program , even though federal deficits are projected to grow rapidly in the coming decades and the U.S. credit rating was just downgraded . Adding a costly new energy stamps program would only make that deteriorating deficit picture worse.

The absence of an energy stamps program doesn’t negate the fact that everyday Americans, and especially the poor, are paying more due to the administration’s green energy policies. Most already recognize that in inflation at the pump and everywhere else , and would prefer cheap, abundant energy to power their homes, vehicles, and businesses. But since the administration insists they can’t have that, some might wonder why yesterday’s liberals thought people like them deserved a break from high prices caused by green energy, while today’s politicians don’t seem to care.

As the financial pain from administration energy policies continues to rise, some might even ask “Where are the energy stamps, Joe?”