House Republican proposal would cut programs that help our economy grow. Two examples explained...

The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has proposed deep cuts to an astonishing set of federal programs.  Several of my colleagues have explained how prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from doing its work as a way to save money is foolish or deceitful.  See other blogs here.

The proposal identifed deep cuts to the Energy Efficiency program and the Office of Science at the Department of Energy -- two programs that, in fact, operate to expand and grow our economy.  We should be very, very careful to support these areas, and the approach taken by the proposal released by the Republican leadership suggests a much more crude and blunt approach.

The Department of Energy operates an excellent buildings program through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  Why is this a priority?  About 40% of America's energy goes to light, heat, cool and operate our houses and buildings, yet much of this power quite literally goes out the window.  The power is created using valuable resources but it does no useful work.  Measures such as better controls, more insulation, and better windows and doors can substantially reduce the power consumed by our buildings, enabling that power to go to productive uses. 

But the market for investing in energy efficiency is broken in ways that are understood, that take time to change, and that require leadership.  Examples of what the DOE buildings team is doing can be found in the President's recent comments on the Better Buildings Initiative. 

The proposal released from the Republican leadership suggests deep cuts to this Office. Reducing this work will ultimately suppress property owner investment in energy efficiency, will reduce job growth and innovation, and will continue wasting our important energy resources.

Moreover, cutting federal expenditures for energy efficiency work just shifts the costs.  Utility consumers will pay more across the board to fund new power plants to create more power for more inefficient buildings and homes.  More pollution in the air and drinking water will cause lasting health problems for our kids.  And, many states will be forced to re-create and duplicate the work now being done at DOE. 

The Office of Science, targeted for deep cuts, is a second example where great care must be exercised.   America's history of entrepreneurial innovation and corporate growth is filled with examples of Government research and grants that leads to pivotal changes in industry.  The research is often channeled through universities, laboratories, and forward-thinking federal projects using technology or new methods. The energy sector is ripe for innovation and growth.  Building owners across the world are expected to invest in efficiency, and America can provide the technology and equipment if we develop it and make it.  DOE's science and laboratory work helps to drive that innovation and create opportunities for growth.  Cutting funding for this work is truly eating our seed corn.

I hope that Members of Congress and their staffs in the coming weeks will carefully explore the programs identified for cuts and will take a more discerning approach, preserving programs that, in fact, promote innovation, improve markets, and enable our economy to grow.