Also at The Albany Project
But he's a Republican, so he has to say some stupid things to get the wingnut Republican base excited about his candidacy.
For example, he's repeated the 30-year-old GOP chestnut of calling for abolition of the federal Department of Education, with the same old rationale that this would substantially reduce federal spending.
The only way it could do a small bit of that would be by substantially reducing federal aid to local school districts, which would lead to higher property taxes in NY-20.
Murphy has an ad up about this issue now, and Gibson responded to it yesterday with a loony plan to reduce property taxes by building nuclear power plants.
Details and video, below.
First, here's the ad, which evidently struck a nerve:
Property taxes are the major tax issue in NY-20, and all of New York outside NYC. Members of Congress generally can't do much about that, but whatever they've done lately -- stimulus funds, aid to schools, etc. -- is resolutely opposed by Gibson and the Boehner Republicans he hopes to join in Washington.
Where the pressures are right now is on property taxes. And property taxes, of course, are used to fund school districts. My idea is that we tie this to the energy plan. And what we need is nuclear power plants in NY-20. Nuclear power plants will give us cleaner energy. One plant can actually provide energy for 300,000 households. And it will also provide property tax relief for families.
Gibson saying that multiple nuclear power plants in one Congressional District will "provide property tax relief for families" is about as reality-based as calling for Congress to give everyone in NY-20 a pony and $1 million.
Let's count the ways this is stone stupid.
- There has not been a new nuclear power plant built in this country in more than 30 years. The major reason for that is that they are frightfully expensive -- $10 billion or so apiece. The Future of Nuclear Power Study by MIT, updated in 2009, repeats this original (2003) asessment:
In deregulated markets, nuclear power is not now cost competitive with coal and natural gas.
The update also notes that estimated nuclear power plant construction costs had doubled from 2003 to 2009, making it even less cost-competitive.
- There are about 60 school districts in NY-20. In the highly unlikely event that even one nuclear power plant is built in NY-20, it will "provide property tax relief for families" in just one school district, and that won't happen anytime soon -- it takes well more than a decade to build one of these things, and full property taxation in New York would take another decade. So Gibson's stupid proposal would not help the vast majority of NY-20 taxpayers at all ever, and would only help a tiny minority somewhat sometime in the late 2020s.
- There is an organized, well-funded and effective environmental community that would vigorously oppose any nuclear power plant project on the Hudson River (realistically, the only place such a plant could be sited in NY-20). This community recently mobilized a multi-year campaign to defeat a large cement plant in Hudson, and, way back when, helped derail Nelson Rockefeller's plan for four nuclear power plants between Albany and Poughkeepsie.
- Gibson has the support of local tea partiers, who generally do not like massive government subsidies of private corporations. Nuclear power is perhaps the most massively subsidized industry ever, with federal subsidies for loan guarantees, research and development, insurance liability, waste disposal, etc. Tea partiers may not care about the hypocrisy of supporting a candidate who wants to add hundreds of billions to the national debt to jump-start the most expensive form of power production, but they should.
Gibson seemed to be a perfect candidate for the GOP bosses who recruited him while he was still wearing the uniform -- NY-20 native and Ichabod Crane sports star, sterling military record (four Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge with Star), the Ph.D., good-looking, articulate, photogenic family, etc.
But when he says stupid things like this, it's pretty clear that he's not ready for prime time.