Midway through the holiday shopping season, a key government report this week revealed increased consumer spending.
According to the Commerce Department, retail sales rose 0.3 percent in November offsetting a commensurate decline in October.
Auto sales increased 1.5 percent. Analysts say that -- and a 1.6 percent jump in sales at home improvement stores -- indicate consumers are beginning to replace vehicles and rebuild the northeast in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
The report offered mixed signals for the holiday shopping season. Online shopping surged 3 percent in their biggest gain in more than a year. But department store sales tumbled and Americans spent less at discount stores like Wal-Mart and Target.
Some of the decline may be due to the storm. Still, economists are concerned that consumers may also be growing more cautious due to looming spending cuts and tax increases. With hopes dimming for a compromise averting the Fiscal Cliff, the White House and some Congressional Republicans are setting their sights on a more modest deal.
And while change is in the wind, proponents of wind energy explained this week why government support can NOT be a fiscal cliff casualty…
Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican, and Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat from Utah, led a bi-partisan effort to extend the production tax credits for wind energy.
Senator Charles Grassley, R – Iowa: “It’s a jobs bill, as well as a green energy bill.”
Grassley authored the original wind production tax credit in 1992. Since then, the Iowa Republican says industry has grown to support more than 75,000 U.S. jobs in more than 400 domestic facilities.
Senator Charles Grassley, R – Iowa: “We’re only about 4 years away from wind energy being mature, and not needing the tax credit, it would be foolish, wouldn’t it, if its only four years away from standing on its own, and we have twenty years invested, to not complete that investment so we don’t lose it all.”
The subsidy was created to level the playing field with coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation, two groups critical of continued support of wind energy.
Senator Charles Grassley, R – Iowa: “I think it would demagogic, intellectually dishonest. Besides some of the people, like nuclear people, are lobbying against wind energy. We wouldn’t have a nuclear industry if 50-60 years ago, if we didn’t have the Price Anderson Act, provided insurance for nuclear couldn’t any private insurance to cover nuclear accidents. So the Federal Government put it up, so there’s been all sorts of subsidies and there’s still subsidies decades into the future for nuclear energy. So look at that inconsistency. They have no business taking on wind.”
Grassley’s home state of Iowa is the leader in wind energy production and component manufacturing. Iowa’s turbines generate the equivalent of powering one million homes. The Hawkeye State gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind and trails only Texas in terms of installed wind capacity.