Viability of possible TVA sale in question

Bruce Oppenheimer, professor of political science

The Obama administration launched a “modest shot across the bow” with a call for a strategic review that includes consideration of a possible sale of the Tennessee Valley Authority, according to Bruce Oppenheimer, professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University.

It’s ironic for Democratic leadership to consider selling off government assets, a move usually associated with Republican strategists, Oppenheimer noted.

“This represents people flip-flopping in terms of ideology,” he said.

The government is likely “looking everywhere” for possible sources of additional revenue. Whether privatizing TVA is a viable option is unknown.

“Even if you want to do it, there’s the question of how much you could get for it,” he said. “Everybody gets concerned about these things because you don’t know if it would be more or less efficient and what the rates would be.”

Oppenheimer noted the politics of the move are interesting as well since President Obama has experienced difficulties getting his candidates approved for the TVA Board. “It’s a modest shot across the bow,” he said.

Oppenheimer’s research primarily focuses on Congress and American political institutions. His primary current interest examines how process changes have affected the ability of Congress to develop energy policy over the past half century.