- The Washington Times - Monday, August 31, 2009

Another giveaway

Just as the Obama administration pushed the Department of Transportation to jump-start car sales with the “cash for clunkers” program, the Department of Energy will give rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, to help “create and save” jobs.

President Obama’s stimulus bill, which passed earlier this year, contained nearly $300 million to encourage Americans to purchase “Energy Star”-qualified appliances such as central air conditioners, heat pumps, boilers, furnaces, room air conditioners, clothes washers, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators and water heaters.

In order to get the money flowing to consumers, each state must submit its plan for processing the rebates and recycling the old appliances to the Department of Energy by Oct. 15. Administrators say consumers could begin receiving rebates as early as November.

Although the program is not yet under way, critics unhappy with the government giveaways have already disparaged it by calling it “dollars for dishwashers.”

The rebates for energy-efficient appliances will be much less than those offered for fuel-efficient vehicles. Under cash for clunkers, new-car purchases were eligible for rebates between $3,500 and $4,500. The dollars for dishwashers benefit will likely be between $50 and $200 depending on the appliance purchased and the rebate rates set by the state where it is bought.

Audit the Fed

Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat and House Financial Services Committee chairman, said he expects a bill sponsored by former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul that would audit the Fed to pass out of his committee in October as part of a larger regulatory package.

If added to Mr. Frank’s other proposed reforms, the proposal by Mr. Paul, Texas Republican, could give a boost to a financial regulation package the Obama administration wanted to pass last spring. The Fed bill has 282 co-sponsors, including every Republican member of the House and a considerable number of Democrats. The Senate’s lead sponsor of the bill is Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent and a self-described socialist.

The Government Accountability Office, under current law, has no power to audit the Federal Reserve. Mr. Paul’s bill would empower the government watchdog to do so and make its findings available to the public.

Mr. Frank was asked at a town-hall meeting when he would put the bill up for a vote in committee, and after giving a lengthy explanation of current problems with the Federal Reserve, Mr. Frank said he was working with Mr. Paul and that “this will probably pass in October.”

Bachmann’s zinger

At another town hall meeting, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, was challenged by a man on the state of U.S. health care versus that in Britain.

While answering his question and reciting problems reported in the media with the shortage of doctors and facilities to accommodate what’s been called Britain’s “birth boom,” Mrs. Bachmann was interrupted by a heckler who yelled “that happens here!”

After a bit of arguing with the unidentified heckler, Mrs. Bachmann put him is his place with a quip that drew laughter and applause from the audience.

“I’ve given birth probably more than you have, sir,” the mother of five children and 23 foster children zinged.

Minnesota-based news outlets as well as conservative blogs that are generally supportive of Mrs. Bachmann posted the video clip of the exchange on their Web sites over the weekend.

Quoted and noted

“I would run for office at some point in my life.”

- Fox News personality Sean Hannity on his program last week during a panel discussion with NPR’s Juan Williams, Republican strategist Noelle Nikpour and former NCAA football coach Lou Holtz.

Immediate reaction

“You would? You would? That would interesting, that would be fascinating. I can imagine your opponents, I mean how much tape would there exist? It would be unlimited!”

- Mr. Williams, appearing a bit bewildered by Mr. Hannity’s political ambitions

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter @washingtontimes.com.

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