In all of the hue and cry about chained CPI in the president's proposed budget, one item has escaped scrutiny. The budget considers selling part or all of TVA, the country's largest publicly owned utility. The Tennessee Valley Authority was part of FDR's "100 Days." It was quickly enacted after candidate Roosevelt had charged:
that private utilities had "selfish purposes" and said, "Never shall the federal government part with its sovereignty or with its control of its power resources while I'm president of the United States."
In 1964, TVA became a political lightning rod as GOP nominee Barry Goldwater famously called for its sale. In the linked interview where he called for that sale, he also advocated the abolition of farm subsidies and the enactment of a flat tax, and he opposed the enactment of Medicare. In other words, this position was one of a right-wing GOP crank who was throughly demolished by the last New Deal Dem to be elected president.
To see a Dem president coming off a resounding re-election steal a page from Goldwater's playbook (at the same time that he's proposing to cut SS) causes the mind to reel. I'm really not old enough to recall any details of the 1964 campaign, but Goldwater's pledge to sell TVA, along w/ his suggestion to lob one into the men's room of the Kremlin demonstrated his clear lack of seriousness as a prospective president. TVA thereafter became as dangerous of a third rail in American politics as SS.
It's fascinating to note that both of TN's GOP senators opposing this idea. Even Goopers suddenly become "socialists" when it's their own ox that's being gored:
The power authority’s bonds fell on news of a potential sale, which was criticized as “one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas,” by Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican...A sale of TVA would cost taxpayers money and may boost electricity rates, Alexander said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Both of Tennessee’s Republican senators oppose a sale.It was my understanding that, as exemplified by his dinner last night w/ Johnny Isakson and 11 of his friends, the president is trying to build bridges to GOP senators. Why alienate 2 of them so that you can potentially repudiate FDR's legacy and carry out the agenda of the GOP right? Why is such an insane idea even being considered? Are there any other equally insane proposals in this budget?
“There is by law no federal taxpayer liability for TVA debt,” the senator said. “And after deducting its debt, selling TVA would probably cost taxpayers money.”
TVA, like any program of its scale, has its obvious flaws. Selling it off to Wall Street, probably at a loss, however, is the worst idea imaginable. The fact that it is even on the table now raises even more questions about exactly what it was that we voted for last November.