Republicans have criticized these incentives broadly, and more specifically have criticized subsidies for the Chevy Volt, General Motors’s plug-in hybrid car. In addition to heavy subsidies for a car that has seen lackluster sales numbers, the GOP has blasted the partial government ownership of GM, which they said allows the Obama administration to influence the kind of cars the company produces.
Lungren’s bill has its roots in a centuries-old practice of having governments offer prizes for key strategic inventions. Among the most famous of these was the prize offered by Great Britain in the early 18th century for a way to find longitude at sea, which was claimed decades later by a clockmaker.
More recently, NASA and the Defense Department have offered prizes related to developments in space exploration and robotics, although none of these approach Lungren’s $1 billion prize. In 2010, the Obama administration offered prizes of up to $1 million for innovators who develop ways to commercialize new technology.