Gregg: Loan Guarantee Funding Is Safe, Grandkids Are Not
We ran a piece this morning examining some lawmakers’ concerns about the future of the $2 billion that was plucked from a renewable energy loan guarantee program to extend cash for clunkers.
But at least one lawmaker has no such worries. Not only will the $2 billion be replaced, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said on the chamber floor this afternoon, but it’ll be borrowed, adding further to the nation’s enormous debt.
“This is the ultimate bait and switch,” Gregg said.
Democratic leaders, from President Obama on down, have repeatedly said that the $2 billion cash for clunkers extension is paid for because it dips into unused stimulus funds earmarked for the loan guarantee program. But if that loan funding is replenished sometime later — and if the replenished funds aren’t covered by increasing revenues or enacting cuts elsewhere — then the clunkers extension will effectively have come from borrowed funds.
“The bill to pay [for] those cars is going to come due on our children and grandchildren,” Gregg said. “This is nothing more than a program which is being funded entirely by debt.”
Indeed, on the House floor last Friday, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) wanted assurance that, if the cash for clunkers extension passed, the $2 billion siphoned from the loan guarantee program would be replaced.
Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, responded:
I share the gentleman’s view that the Renewable Energy Loan Guarantee Program is of vital importance to creating a new, green economy. We have talked with the White House. We have talked with the Speaker, and I want to assure you that all of us certainly have every intention of restoring these funds.
Of course there’s always the possibility that Obey could reneg on that promise, but Gregg thinks it’s unlikely. “This is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee,” Gregg said. “When he assures you, you can be assured it’s for sure.”