Will Mary Landrieu Advance Obama’s War on American Energy?

Rhea Suh is a long-time green community operative.

In October, President Obama nominated her to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for the Department of Interior. A vote on her nomination has been held up in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee – and for good reason.

While two committee hearings on Suh’s nomination have raised significant concerns about her qualifications, Suh’s recorded sentiments are the real concern. For example, prior to her work at Interior, Suh facilitated environmental grants with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and later the David and Lucille Packard Foundation where she opined :

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PILT and the Farm Bill: Why Americans No Longer Trust Their Elected Officials

Christmas may have been last month, but the House of Representatives just jammed through a $1.111 trillion appropriations bill and  it looks as if it’s preparing to pass another trillion-dollar bill in the coming weeks in the form of the much-maligned food stamp and farm welfare bill. The two bills have much more in common than their trillion-dollar price tag, though. They are intimately connected by an obscure program known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).

Although most Americans have never heard of PILT, it provides payments to counties that are suffocated by the massive amounts of federal land within their borders. Because the Federal estate is so huge and predominately in the western states, counties there are hamstrung in their ability to generate taxes and provide for basic services like firefighting and emergency medical services.

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The Taxpayer Transparency Act Exposes Government Waste

With conferees still struggling to strike a bad deal on a $1 trillion food stamp and farm welfare bill, conservative efforts to reform an out-of-control food stamp program and constrain lavish farm subsidies have met stiff resistance from lawmakers and entrenched special interests.

In the midst of the larger effort to separate food stamps and farm programs so that each can be debated and reformed on its own merits, there are efforts to shed light on the federal government’s shameful (and wasteful) campaign to promote big government programs like food stamps.

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Congress’ New Year’s Resolution: Old Ideas, Bad Policy

For many Americans, the dawn of a new year is celebrated as an opportunity to take new chances, do things differently, improve one’s self and help one’s fellow man, or start over. And while not everyone is successful at dialing back the Twinkie’s for very long (unless you’re the union bosses), most Americans at least make an effort.

For Congress, a new year, especially an election year, is merely another opportunity to make minimal reforms and pass bad legislation that they could not complete the previous year. Take the farm bill. This $1 trillion food stamp and farm welfare bill was successfully defeated by conservatives last June in an embarrassing failure for House leadership and a historic victory for the American people. Conservatives spoke up and made it clear that they wanted no part in implementing President Obama’s failed food stamp agenda and continuing the charade of tying food stamps to large agribusiness subsidies.

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Farm Bill and the Art of ‘Negotiation’

The implosion of the House food stamp and farm bill on the floor was an unprecedented victory for conservatives and taxpayers alike. Nevertheless, some are lamenting the bill’s defeat as a sign that Congress has lost its ability to “negotiate.” As recounted in the National Journal:

“Everybody was going to have a part” of the bill, Combest recalled. “You’ve got the parameters that are established and you end up somewhere in the center.”

The farm bill, Daschle added, was classic legislative construction: The bill was crafted to give members in each state the buy-in they needed to vote for the final product. “If their state has no stake in the bill, the only way you get them is by getting them invested in the bill,” Daschle said. “You’ve got to figure out a way to make this relevant to them.”

In other words, the farm bill has always been about buying people off and getting them to implement bad policy. If Congress has indeed lost its ability to do that, this should be welcome news to just about everyone.

Sadly, we know this is not the case.

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