In a mad dash to expand all their favorite â€śgreenâ€ť cash grabs before the end of the year, House Democrats have published their most bloated smash and grab yet.
They call it the Green Act, but a better name might be the Greed Act. The bill extends wind and solar subsidies â€“ which weâ€™ve been promised for decades would be temporary â€“ for yet another five years. In an effort to gain support from farm states, it revives the biodiesel credit.
Most outrageously, the Green Act cancels the phase-out of the electric vehicle subsidies by tripling the per-manufacturer cap. It also ignores rampant fraud and creates a new subsidy for used electric vehicles, despite the fact the original rationale â€“ dependence on foreign oil â€“ is now completely obsolete.
Because no green cash grab would be compete without lavishing taxpayer dollars on the campus left, the bill includes an eye-popping $5 billion in grants for university â€śenvironmental justiceâ€ť programs. Shameless.
With Nancy Pelosi firmly in control, the Green Act could well pass the House, either by itself or more likely as part of a larger year-end package. So the real fight looks likely to be in the Senate, where Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can be expected to go to the mat for the electric vehicles subsidies, if not the whole package. In fact, he recently proposed an electric-vehicles-subsidies-meets-cash-for-clunkers on steroids concept that would pay to scrap every internal combustion vehicle in the country in the most brazen display of wealth destruction via central planning ever attempted outside of the Communist Bloc. So he can be expected, at a minimum, to push hard for the House language on electric vehicles.
That language would triple the cap on subsidies of 200,000 per manufacturer â€“ which has already been reached by Tesla and GM, who of course have unleashed armies of lobbyists to keep the taxpayer largesse flowing. A token cut in the credit amount from $7,500 to $7,000 would be meaningless, thanks to a new credit of up to $2,500 for used electric vehicles.
This program is an almost pure tax break for the rich, and those rich are well represented by their Democratic representatives and senators. Especially from California, which gets nearly half of all the subsidies dollars, and New York, which ranks second.
The Pacific Research Institute looked at IRS data and found that more than half of the electric car buyers claiming the credit make more than $200,000 per year and nearly 80 percent make more than $100,000. Just 1 percent make $50,000 or less.
Worse, a significant number of the predominantly wealthy people claiming the credit are doing so fraudulently. The Treasury Inspector General found in a new report that 16,510 tax returns claiming â€śpotentially erroneousâ€ť electric vehicle tax credits, totaling $73.8 million. The IRS doesnâ€™t check VINs, and it looks like credits have been allowed for ineligible vehicles. It also appears there is a particular problem with leased vehicles, in which the leasing company claims the credit and builds it into the lease payment, but then the lessee claims the credit a second time, effectively doubling the subsidy.
The simplest way to end the fraud would be to let the program phase out as scheduled. But Congress looks at rampant fraud and instead wants to expand the program. Unreal.
Nothing in the Green Act deserves to see the light of day in the Senate, especially the expansion of electric vehicle tax breaks. But if it does, President Trump should make clear that heâ€™ll have his veto pen ready.
Kerpen is the president of American Commitment and the author of â€śDemocracy Denied.â€ť