Republican Socialists Fight Obama Plan to Privatize TVA

Monday, May 27, 2013

Republicans abhor socialism, claiming the government has no business running any generators of economic productivity. But some GOP lawmakers in Tennessee and Alabama now find themselves defending one of the government’s oldest socialist institutions—the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)—from a privatization plan suggested by the alleged liberal occupying the White House.


As part of his 2014 budget proposal, President Barack Obama raised the issue of selling off the TVA, which was created 80 years ago by the federal government during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.


TVA is one of the nation’s largest publicly operated institutions, and the largest public power provider in the country. It would no doubt fetch billions of dollars if sold off, while such a sale would turn the utility generation for Americans in Tennessee and Alabama over to private hands.


So why aren’t Republicans embracing Obama’s idea?


“The basic problem is that this ‘socialist’ institution is immensely popular,” Gar Alperovitz and Thomas Hanna wrote at AlterNet. “It has given the people of the region good service for roughly eight decades, and its prices are lower than those of many private corporations.”


They added that federal energy statistics show Alabamans and Tennesseans pay considerably less for power than the national average—earning TVA “the ‘mother love’ of a politically conservative region,” according to former TVA Chairman S. David Freeman.


That would explain why free-marketers like Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) called Obama’s proposal “one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas,” saying privatization could lead to higher energy costs for his constituents.


Similar reservations have been expressed by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Representative John Duncan, Jr. (R-Tennessee), who was quoted as saying that privatization is “something that has been proposed in the past and been determined to be a very bad idea.”


Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) also didn’t like the idea at first. But recently, he has split off from his GOP colleagues and says he’s open to making changes to TVA’s ownership.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Shocker: Republicans Fight Obama Plan to Privatize the Hugely Popular, Cheap Energy Source of the TVA (by Gar Alperovitz and Thomas Hanna, AlterNet)

Sen. Bob Corker Open to TVA Changes (by Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press)


axon 11 years ago
To quote someone else: "Big-picture purity combined with local-issue hypocrisy." Yup.Pure Republican.
Anthony Alfidi 11 years ago
Privatizing TVA will allow the enterprise to raise capital more efficiently. What about future enterprises? Energy co-ops can still succeed with good funding sources. Crowdfunding creates decentralized wealth. Public banks and portals can enable a brand new financial ecosystem.

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