Romney’s Support is Gone With the Wind
The Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a bipartisan federal tax incentive rewarding companies for producing clean wind energy that has successfully created jobs, especially in Middle America. 5,000 jobs in Michigan alone depend on the PTC. Therein lies the problem for Governor Romney; whether or not they think clean energy is environmentally necessary, people like jobs.
Opposing successful job-creating legislation, or associating with someone who does, is not only a bad political move — it also harms working Americans who depend on those jobs for their income. As obvious as this conclusion seems, one could be forgiven for thinking it was news to Romney, who essentially handicapped himself in several important states through his recent statement of opposition to the Wind PTC.
Throughout this campaign Romney has been willing to take whatever positions he thinks will get him the White House, a familiar approach in the path to office. Where Romney stands out is his apparent inability to do his homework and tendency to take stances that attract private donors but alienate his party, his target voters, or both. Case in point is his opposition to the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), which enjoys widespread support among both Democrats and Republicans, particularly in the Midwest. So when Romney came out against the PTC and in so doing effectively tried to derail the legislation’s bipartisan support in Congress, people were understandably upset.
The move alienated Congressional Republicans, like Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who are aware of the legislation’s popularity with their constituents, costing Romney support that could be vital in his effort to generate enthusiasm and win votes. What’s more, the outrage it generated amongst voters painted a target on the back of Romney’s head at which President Obama took aim during recent stops in Iowa and Colorado. If this becomes a recurring talking point, which given Obama’s eagerness to capitalize on it seems likely, it will spell trouble for Romney.
Yet more important than the impact Romney’s statement will have on his campaign are the consequences it carries for average Americans. There is a reason 86% of voters (and 75% of Republicans) in Iowa support wind energy and the PTC: because they work. They supply homes with power and Americans with jobs, and both Republicans and Democrats recognized this. By positioning himself against it, however, Romney was knowingly attempting to introduce Washington’s now characteristic hyper-polarization to one of the few non-partisan issues left. This would have resulted in tens of thousands of hard-working Americans will find themselves unemployed.
Thankfully, Romney’s attempt to make the PTC a partisan issue seems to have failed. Both Democrats and Republicans continue to push for the legislation in Congress, and in the end Romney’s ill-conceived move lost him the support of both voters and politicians he might otherwise have counted as allies. Yet the significance of what Romney tried to do cannot be overlooked; if candidate Romney is so willing to sacrifice the well-being of average Americans in an attempt to gain political clout, what would happen under President Romney? Under a White House run by a man out of touch not just with the people, but the political figures of his party whose support he’d need to govern? Our nation owes its citizens more than an ineffective, out-of-touch leader.
Nicholas Campbell-Seremetis is an Intern at the Truman Project.