Pros and Cons of 'Cash for Caulkers'

The skinny on Obama's new stimulus program

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President Obama's new plan to rev up the economy includes a "Cash of Caukers" program that reimburses homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation. As CNN Money explains, "The program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space." The President hopes it will stimulate job growth and save homeowners money. But will it work?


  • Fits With Our Principles, writes Ezra Klein at The Washington Post: "It's exactly the sort of stimulus the government should be funding: It wouldn't happen without federal support, it works in concert with other government priorities, and it's both a stimulus program and a jobs program."
  • Good for Contractors, Good for Homeowners, writes David Leonhardt at The New York Times: "The housing bust has idled contractors and construction workers, who could be put to work insulating homes and caulking air leaks. Many households, meanwhile, would save substantial money."
  • Works on Two Levels, writes Brian Merchant at TreeHugger: "It's a fantastic idea. Investing money in making energy efficient improvements is one of the smartest, easiest most effective ways to reduce energy consumption, save money, and cut back on carbon emissions--both on individual and national levels."


  • Will Homeowners React? Corbin Hiar at Mother Jones, says "There are questions about how Congress would motivate homeowners to take part. After all, consumers are more accustomed to purchasing cars than insulation."
  • Two Problems: Fraud and Disposable Income, writes Drea Knufken at Business Pundit: "It's easy to commit fraud under the catch-all phrase 'weatherization.' Contractors can go in and say anything is weatherization, even if it doesn't fit the government's criteria. So can homeowners." Also, "If loans aren't being offered, how will consumers come up with thousands of dollars in cash to pay their half? Most people don't have a few thousand to contribute to weatherization, unless they were planning it anyway."
  • Welfare for Homeowners, writes Karen De Coster at LRC Blog: "Van Jones may be gone, but his special interest rewards remain fully intact, and now the booty will be doled out to favored enviro-greenie recipients. Cash for Caulkers will be a homeowner welfare program aimed at inducing people to seek government-approved, green home improvements that will benefit the entire Green Industry. Homeowners can receive rebates for politically correct home retrofits. Can anyone say bubble?"
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