March 17, 2009

Hot Potato issues - don't avoid them

Max Schulz at National Review has an article about the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository. Obama is not really killing it, he's keeping it on life support. Barely, but nevertheless, he's not killing the patient despite his campaign promise to do so. Now why would he be doing that? The answer is simple - political calculation.

The truth is Obama's agenda, aside from trying to manage the economic crisis, has always been about wealth redistribution in various guises; taxation, health care reform to give everyone health care, mortgage bailouts to those least worthy of credit. It's almost as if it's about reparations. It's personal.

Obama is a crusader. Yucca Mountain is a distraction. But not one to waste an opportunity to further the crusade, then-candidate Obama, promised to close down the Yucca Mountain repository. Anything for a vote.

It would be a simple matter for Obama then, to keep those people concerned about the nuclear waste repository happy by shutting it down. So why not do it? The answer is (still) simple - political calculation.

Obama has come to the realization that the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository cannot be killed. It would cost billions in lawsuits and unrecoverable research costs being wasted.

Under the Nuclear Waste Act, the federal government has a legal obligation to
collect and dispose of the spent fuel from the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear
reactors. To pay for it, the government began levying a surcharge on electricity
generated from nuclear power in the early 1980s. Around $30 billion has been
collected so far, roughly one-third of which has been spent on Yucca Mountain
So what Obama has done, instead of killing it is to starve it. He reduced funding massively, just enough to keep the research on the viability going. Obama is keeping it on life support. He is, in essence, floating it for one term. That way it looks like he's killing it to those anxious to see it. He has 'kept' a campaign promise. On the other hand the facility is necessary. 20% of the nation's electrical energy is produced by nuclear power. The waste has to be stored somewhere. Or else those power plants have to be shut down. That's simply not possible.

Then if he loses after one term, or completes two terms the next President, quite possibly/likely a Republican can pick up the pieces and proceed with the completion of the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository. The Republicans can take the heat for rekindling an issue that Obama had killed off. It is an issue that handled thusly, helps Obama, and the Democrats and the GOP look like the bad guys for working to keep the lights on (literally). And at that time, the press will spin it as having been killed by Obama, not kept on life support for his tenure. Guaranteed.

That's effectively managing an issue - all upside for liberals. Of course it's not really managing the country, but oh well.

Another example of a hot potato issue is the social security. Both Democrats and Republicans have been punting this issue for years because they see no solution to the political issue. Not no solution to issue itself. The issue could have been managed the way President Bush wanted to manage it. Thee was no political will to do so. The issue lingers on. It's a multi-trillion dollar issue that will dwarf this banking crisis. But the solution is on hold because no one wants to take tough solutions back to their constituencies. The biggest hope for conservatives right no, is that the Chicago political machine does not come up with a solution to the political issue, because an Obama trademarked solution means more taxes, more socialism and less America left in the United States.
The lesson for conservatives - tackle this issue head on. Be pre-emptive, don't play defence. Every threat is an opportunity in disguise.

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