In the recent proposal for a 2014 budget, the White House offered consumers a 10-year outlook of proposed federal spending and revenues. So far, tax hikes and entitlement cuts to Social Security and Medicare have attracted the most news coverage, but there are some remarkable budget numbers in the Energy and Transportation sections of Table 26-13.
For example, Mass Transit spending goes from a whopping $12.455 billion in fiscal 2013, then just $2.3 to $2.7 billion over the next 10 years. Spending was budgeted at just $2.2 billion in fiscal 2012 – revealing a towering spike of spending in 2013. Some lucky voters were the beneficiaries of that largesse, but many of us still have no access to local mass transit. In 2012 the House Ways and Means Committee made clear that instead of splitting gasoline taxes between mass transit and highways, gasoline taxes were to be used for highway projects. It appears the budget takes this seriously.
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program was to spend $975 million in 2013 and is proposed to spend $1,697 million in 2014, $1,274 million in 2015, $429 million in 2016, then just a mere $7 million each year until 2023. Some of this is explained by Fisker, an advanced electric car maker who borrowed $192 million but is now insolvent. Ford, Nissan and Tesla also borrowed from this DOE program, but the DOE is no longer actively considering proposals – as confirmed in the budget
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy was slated for $5.2 billion in 2012, then $1.9 billion in 2013, and $1.4 billion for 2014, then about $1B each year until 2013. This reflects the White House’s intention to scrap subsidies for fossil fuels, but continue modest support for clean energy.
Innovative technology loan guarantees (a discretionary program for energy supply projects) are being ramped down from $617 million in 2012 to zero in 2017.
Somewhere in the numbers and carefully groomed prose is the Solyndra debacle. It appears the proposed budget acknowledges in dollars, if not in words, that consumers are not wild about stylish “green” projects.
Alan Daley is a retired businessman who lives in Florida and who writes for The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research