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Monday, January 22, 2007

SOTU Will Focus on Global Warming and Health Care

Unbelievable. Eager to change the subject from Iraq (where every new poll shows even less support for the president), Bush will plunge into the health care crisis and global warming in his State of the Union address tomorrow night. These are topics he has studiously avoided for six years, except to promote the non-solution of Health Savings Accounts for the former and to undermine scientific evidence as to the latter. In tomorrow's speech, however, each topic will receive the full Bushification treatment.

As to health insurance, it's more On-Your-Ownership Society. Bush is expected to propose a standard deduction on federal income taxes for health insurance ($7,500 for individuals, $15,000 for families), coupled with treating employer-provided health insurance as taxable income rather than a non-taxable fringe benefit. Thus, people with health benefits worth more than the deduction would pay taxes on it, in theory paying for the tax benefits otherwise doled out. The deductions are expected to encourage those without health insurance to go and buy it. In other words, the government would tax those with insurance to encourage other people to get some. "Bad policy," declared Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), new chair of the House Ways and Means Committee that writes tax legislation. Back in 1986 Rangel led the opposition to a similar scheme proposed by Reagan.

On the whole, another ineffective and poorly reasoned approach. Most low and middle-income families just don't have enough income to purchase health insurance even with tax breaks. "Tax deductions do little or nothing for those people who are uninsured and devastated by high health care costs," said Bill Vaughan, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union. "When an individual family policy for decent health coverage costs about $11,000 a year, tax credits of $1,000 to $3,000 to buy insurance are almost meaningless."

Bush is also expected to praise states that have implemented or proposed plans to achieve universal health care coverage (Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania), which is anther way of saying that the federal government won't be getting into that arena.

On the global warming front, Bush is expected to call for higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, lower emissions standards for power plants (but not as aggressively lower as Democrats want), and tax incentives to encourage the use of renewable energy sources. Fuel efficiency standards for cars haven't been raised since 1995 and increasing them is long overdue, so that part is welcome news. However, Bush's proposals will be far too weak to significantly impact the global warming problem. What is needed is a true crisis mentality and strong mandatory regulation, and that is simply not to be expected from a president who has talked up energy independence before but never backed it up with real change. (The percentage of oil that the U.S imports has increased from 53% to 60% since Bush took office in 2000.) Significantly, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is downplaying any real impact from tomorrow's State of the Union Address on energy policy. Barton said he expects the president to add fresh "nuances" to his energy policy but not to risk economic damage with drastic pollution reducing measures. "I don't think that you're going to see any great change in his position," Barton said.

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1 Comments:

At January 23, 2007 8:07 AM , Jay Draiman said...

MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY – THE ENERGY EVOLUTION –R10

In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy sources must change.
"Energy drives our entire economy." We must protect it. "Let's face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy." The American way of life is not negotiable.
Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.

The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, etc. The source of energy must by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, etc. including utilizing water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption. (Sales tax on renewable energy products should be reduced or eliminated)

The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy. (This can be done by amending building code)

In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer at market price), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.

A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task. As an inducement to buy hybrid automobiles (sales tax should be reduced or eliminated on American manufactured automobiles).

This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (This will also create a substantial amount of new jobs). It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) (rainwater harvesting) (energy and natural resources conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.

"To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality."

Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant
Northridge, CA. 91325
Jan. 22, 2007

P.S. I have a very deep belief in America's capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.
I happen to believe that we can do it. In another crisis--the one in 1942--President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this country would build 60,000 [50,000] military aircraft. By 1943, production in that program had reached 125,000 aircraft annually. They did it then. We can do it now.
The American people resilience and determination to retain the way of life is unconquerable and we as a nation will succeed in this endeavor of Energy Independence.

Solar energy is the source of all energy on the earth (excepting volcanic geothermal). Wind, wave and fossil fuels all get their energy from the sun. Fossil fuels are only a battery which will eventually run out. The sooner we can exploit all forms of Solar energy (cost effectively or not against dubiously cheap FFs) the better off we will all be. If the battery runs out first, the survivors will all be living like in the 18th century again.

Every new home built should come with a solar package. A 1.5 kW per bedroom is a good rule of thumb. The formula 1.5 X's 5 hrs per day X's 30 days will produce about 225 kWh per bedroom monthly. This peak production period will offset 17 to 24 cents per kWh with a potential of $160 per month or about $60,000 over the 30-year mortgage period for a three-bedroom home. It is economically feasible at the current energy price and the interest portion of the loan is deductible. Why not?

Title 24 has been mandated forcing developers to build energy efficient homes. Their bull-headedness put them in that position and now they see that Title 24 works with little added cost. Solar should also be mandated and if the developer designs a home that solar is impossible to do then they should pay an equivalent mitigation fee allowing others to put solar on in place of their negligence.

Installing renewable energy system on your home or business increases the value of the property and provides a marketing advantage.

Nations of the world should unite and join together in a cohesive effort to develop and implement MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY for the sake of humankind and future generations.

 

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