Billionaires look to Obama for more taxpayer cash

It should come as little surprise that when President Obama announced plans to give away billions of dollars to alternative energy companies, the lobbyists came running toward Washington.

Billionaire entrepreneurs T. Boone Pickens and Ted Turner were just the latest to make the trip. The duo delivered a joint talk in the capital city Tuesday about their alternative energy investments, and both made it clear they were there looking for handouts.

For the past three years, legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens has crossed the country selling a plan to eliminate America’s reliance on foreign energy sources through domestic natural gas production and wind energy.

He just needs $5 billion of your dollars to do it.

“This is all the help I want. I want a billion dollars a year for five years and then kill it,” Pickens said, describing the amount of public money he’ll need through tax credits to get his plan off the ground. “Five billion dollars.”

With President Obama in office, Pickens said he felt more confident than ever that he could finally get it.

At this year’s State of the Union Address in February, the president called for an increase in public funding to companies that invest in “green energy” sources and that was all Pickens needed to hear.

“Just give me the money to get it started,” he said at the Tuesday luncheon. “Give us the direction, Mr. President and we’ll go in that direction because we are patriotic and we’re not stupid.”

More specifically, Pickens is busy lobbying for a bill — HR 1380 — which is currently sitting in committee and if passed would provide the billions he’s requesting. Sponsored by Oklahoma Republican Rep. John Sullivan, the legislation would change the Internal Revenue Code to give tax credits to entrepreneurs like Pickens who invest in the renewable energy business.

“When I pass HR 1380 I’ll feel like I got my money’s worth,” he said of the time and money he’s already put into natural gas.

But Pickens isn’t the only one looking for taxpayer help to support his investments. Ted Turner, the media mogul and owner of literally more land than anyone in America, was just as blunt about his ambitions. Turner recently invested millions in the solar power business, and wants to see some dough from Uncle Sam too.

“There does need to be some subsidies,” Turner said when asked if he could launch his projects with just private capital.  “Right now we’re subsidizing coal and oil big time. Wind and solar and geothermal are not being subsidized because they were not here to get in line and get their spot at the feed troth.”

Turner has a point. Oil companies rely on massive tax breaks, write-offs and credits in the tax code that amount to as much as $4 billion a year. To him, it’s only fair that he get some of that too.

With Obama’s continued support of taxpayer spending on alternative energy combined with a bipartisan push for an energy bill and $5 dollar a gallon gasoline, there’s a good chance they’ll get what they came for.


Email Chris Moody and follow him on Twitter

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  • SFC_Swede

    If this is the future, then these multi millionaires and billionaires should front the money or raise the capital on an industry where they will continue to rake in train loads of cash when implemented. No more subsidies or taxpayer handouts. Besides, wasnt the President just calling for tax increases on the “rich”? Oh I forgot, not THOSE rich, but people like me and you in the middle class.

  • kingfish

    What I find HILARIOUS are the continuing news stories about the “millionaires” like Buffet, Soros & Bill Gates who claim they want to pay more taxes. The public is saying, “Well, go ahead and send it in then, rather than pubicizing yourselves.”

    Now…the real story. These same millionaires FLOCK like the pigs they are to the TAXPAYER trough. They are RICH. Let them finance their own projects.

    There are thousands of small inventors working on free-energy projects. Yet the government does everything possible to INSURE the projects of “the little people” never get off the ground, to include
    keeping new energy technology patents off the market under their “national security” label. Yet in other countries, even Japan, there are cars that are fueled by air or water.

  • astrojohn


  • designerrant

    I saw this Dem millionaire group on TV that wants to pay more taxes. Only catch is they want it to lead to all of us paying more taxes, too. Is this the mindset of these guys?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Fleet/1053137906 Sam Fleet

    Yes! I am proud to support Boone for the past 3 years, all volunteer on my own dime, although it doesn’t compared to the many 10s of millions Boone has spent of his own money. I pray every day that we do pass HR 1380. You see currently we spend about $30 Billion a month on foreign oil, of which a considerable portion goes to fund terrorists and causes us Billions, even up to the Trillions in war. So yes, It is high time we get on our own resources and for a small amount of $5 Billion we can do it, and in turn get on our own resources creating American jobs. Thank you for sharing this article, it only makes the point of Pickens Plan that much stronger that the time is now for us to stop spending $30 Billion a month and to spend $5 BIllion over 5 years right here in the USA! Natural Gas is Clean Abundant and OURS!

  • clw

    These guys are KNOWN for being OBSCENELY WEALTHY. Now I’m not begrudging their abilities to EARN lots of money, but in THIS economy, don’t ask for money from the taxpayers. That is just WRONG.

    • benhad

      If these guys weren’t willing to risk their own money on these projects, taxpayer money should not be used. Let them get money from other willing investers if these project are so worthwhile.

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  • Maudie in Mandeville

    Girls, there’s a difference between ‘tax breaks’ and government handouts. The $7500 rebate from the government for Government Motors electric car is a handout. A ‘tax break’ is when Exxon creates 1000’s of jobs and wealth for this country and gets to shaft the IRS and Obama with some write offs.

  • roundlaketom

    Eliminate the DOE and use that savings or part of it to get us off foreign energy. The DOE has done nothing but cozy up to big oil and foreign oil over their tenure.