President Obama has proposed a program to help jump start the economy and facilitate job creation that some wags are already calling “cash for caulkers.” The new program would provide incentives for people to weatherize their homes.
In a speech on job creation and economic growth, President Obama said:
“I’m calling on Congress to consider a new program to provide incentives for consumers who retrofit their homes to become more energy-efficient, which we know creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment. And I’m proposing that we expand select Recovery Act initiatives to promote energy efficiency and clean energy jobs which have been proven to be particularly popular and effective. “
It is an idea that President Obama has mentioned before. On the surface, “cash for caulkers” seems like a beguiling idea. Give people incentives, likely in the form of tax write offs or cash rebates, to insulate their homes and to install energy efficient air conditioners, appliances, and so on. People who build and install insulation, air conditioners, and appliances get jobs. Homeowners get lower utility bills. President Obama can tell the global warming cultists that he is doing something to lower pollution and carbon emissions.
CNN is reporting that the incentives will cost up to $12,000.00 per home or about ten billion dollars. There is yet no word on how “cash for caulkers” would be administered or structured. Congress of course will have the authorize it.
Some analysts are already foreseeing trouble for “cash for caulkers.” A spokesman for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, suggested problems with home owners are expected to pay a lot of money up front. If one is having problems making the mortgage note, one is hardly going to jump at the chance to spend even more money, even to make ones house energy efficient with government money coming on the back end.
And, as with all government programs of its kind, “cash for caulkers” has the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse. The Obama administration has not been very effective in preventing fraud and even outright theft in some of its other programs, so there is no reason to suspect that “cash for caulkers” will be any different.
Finally, as with all incentive programs of its kind, the jobs created by “cash for caulkers” could be temporary. “Cash for clunkers” is an example that comes to mind. There will be some job creation and some stimulus of commerce during the life of the program. But once “cash for caulkers” ends, so do the jobs and commerce.
President Obama seems to be stuck in the path of attempting to do the same thing over and over again with the hope of a different result. The stimulus package did not work. Cash for Clunkers did not work. What hope is there that “Cash for Caulkers” will work instead?
Sources: Remarks by the President on Job Creation and Economic Growth, President Obama, The White House, December 8th, 2009
Cash for Caulkers could seal $12,000 a home, Steve Hargreaves, CNN, December 9th, 2009