Like any large body of people, it’s rare that you can find a single reason why the Republicans have done something. According to their 2008 Republican Platform website, the GOP, “advocate[s] a long-term energy tax credit equally applicable to all renewable power sources.” When such a tax credit has been proposed, however, the GOP places emphasis on the fact that it won’t create enough jobs here in America, which they believe to be a bigger priority. According to a Washington Times article they cite, “as much as 80 percent of some green programs, including $2.3 billion of manufacturing tax credits, went to foreign firms that employed workers primarily in countries including China, South Korea and Spain, rather than in the United States.”
The admittedly more cynical but not necessarily less accurate answer is that it’s a question of who your friends are. American oil companies get by with fewer regulations than Canadian companies or many companies based internationally and have long been supporters of the Republican Party, with 83% of their campaign contributions in the 2006 election cycle going to Republican candidates. It’s not difficult to posture as a party that is interested, in the long run, in tax credits for renewable energy, but at no point is oil going to be on that list. The election cycle, which is short relative to the time required for major technological change, forces senators and representatives from both sides to make concessions on principles that will help them get reelected.
This isn’t to say anything so banal as that congresspeople are evil. On the contrary, the double bind is that well-intentioned people can’t help change policy if they’re not somewhere in Congress, but they often have to compromise their good intentions to stay in Congress.
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