Obama Gives Clean Energy R&D Filibuster Protection

If you’ve been reading Elana’s reporting, you know that many Republicans and some Democrats are opposing the Obama administration’s mostly-implicit threat to put health care reform and cap and trade legislation into the budget resolution to immunize them from the filibuster.

Judd Gregg–the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee who came thiiis close to becoming Barack Obama’s Commerce Secretary before deciding he’d rather block the president’s agenda at almost every turn–compared the idea of passing the bills through the reconciliation process to “running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River.” (This, of course, despite his long record of supporting the controversial measures President Bush rammed through the budget.)Well, today, the administration dug in on a different provision in his budget proposal, releasing a clean energy fact sheet which reads, in part, “The President’s 10-year budget also proposes almost $75 billion to make the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit permanent, stimulating private-sector investment in R&D and keeping the U.S. economy at the cutting-edge of 21st century technologies.”

Gathered before a group of clean energy entrepreneurs, Obama vowed to make the tax cuts permanent, saying, “[u]nder my budget, this tax credit will no longer fall prey to the whims of politics and partisanship. It will be far more effective when businesses like yours can count on it, when you’ve got some stability and reliability.”

It’s admittedly a smaller item than health reform and cap-and-trade, and, according to the White House, “Studies have shown that every dollar of tax benefit stimulates as much as an additional dollar of private R&D spending in the short run and two dollars in the long run. Every $1 of R & D adds $2 of benefit to our economy and society as a whole.”

But there are a number of Democrats in the Senate who are, shall we say, lukewarm to the idea of clean energy investment projects, especially when those projects can’t be filibustered. I’ve put calls out to some of them but none have gotten back to me just yet. When they do, I’ll let you know.