Monday, August 18, 2003

Call Schieffer: Somebody get the host of Face the Nation on the blower and explain the free market to him. Twice in his interview with Sec'y Abraham, Schieffer stopped and got all bent that electricity customers would have to pay for upgrades to the grid. First time:
SCHIEFFER: I've seen some estimates that it may cost up to $50 billion to fix this. Who is going to pay that?

ABRAHAM: Well, I think the type of money you're talking about relates to the need for modernization on the transmission grid. Ratepayers, obviously, will pay the bill because they're the ones who benefit. And that's where most of the responsibility ultimately will be assigned.

SCHIEFFER: Wait, wait, wait. Let's back up.

ABRAHAM: Right. Right.

SCHIEFFER: Ratepayers -- that means people who pay in their electric bills.

ABRAHAM: Right. It does. That's right.

SCHIEFFER: So you're saying the customers are going to have to pay for this?

Kudos to Spence Abraham for not ducking this one, not suggesting re-regulation, and saying (in bureauspeak), "You're goddamn right the ratepayer will have to pay for this, Bob. Who the hell else would you suggest?" Well Bob had an answer for that:
SCHIEFFER: Excuse me for asking, but, I mean, aren't the companies going to have to bear some of this cost?
Now, either Bob's doing his faux-populist schtick for the very slim demographic that tunes him in (folks for whom the lines on the IQ and age graph are getting ready to meet), or else Bob really is dumb enough to believe that the power companies have $50 bil in some big bankroll somewhere that they could take out and use to build a Reeeeeal Naaaaahce 'Lectric Grid for the country, but they'll probably take it to the political strip club and stick it all down the g-string of Tom Delay instead. (And if Schieffer thinks that he hasn't learned a f*cking thing in all his years as a journalist, so I'll have to assume he's playing it up for the fixed-income crowd.)

Spence Abraham seems like a nice man who works hard and calls home if he can't kiss his kids goodnight. You know what I mean? And here he is sitting there on CBS, in front of god and everybody, telling Americans that, if they want better electric service, they may have to pay more money. In essence, he's been sent naked into the lion cage to announce that the porterhouse wagon broke down outside Dubuque, but (not to worry) Spence is here to keep them company until the ratatouille is served. And here, opposite, is Bob Schieffer, snow white coiff shaking in disbelief: "You mean to say, Mr. Secretary, that if Americans want to drive around in a BMWs instead of a Yugos, those conniving thieves at Big Auto will expect them to pay more? And the government intends to just stand by and let this happen?"

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