Even the liberal Washington Post, which hasn’t endorsed a Republican for President since 1952, seems to be souring on the Obama Administration’s failed energy programs, saying they were “infused with politics at every level.” As it noted in discussing the Solyndra scandal: “Obama’s green-technology program was infused with politics at every level, The Washington Post found in an analysis of thousands of memos, company records and internal ­e-mails. Political considerations were raised repeatedly by company investors, Energy Department bureaucrats and White House officials. The records, some previously unreported, show that when warned that financial disaster might lie ahead, the administration remained steadfast in its support for Solyndra,” which was owned by major Obama backers, like George Kaiser.

As law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds notes, “all the ‘stimulus’ and ‘green energy’ stuff was never anything but a program to put taxpayer money into the hands of cronies and supporters.”

The Obama Administration hastily approved the  taxpayer subsidies for Solyndra despite obvious danger signs and warnings from accountants about the company’s likely collapse, the misgivings of agency officials, and the company’s mismanagement and lousy-quality products. (Solyndra executives are now pleading the 5th Amendment to avoid disclosing incriminating information.) The Obama administration was determined to shovel taxpayer money to its cronies as fast as it could. As an Obama fundraiser and Solyndra stakeholder exulted,  “there’s never been more money shoved out of the government’s door in world history and probably never will be again than in the last few months and the next 18 months. And our selfish parochial goal is to get as much of it . . . as we possibly can.”  “At the time Solyndra received its grant, Vice President Joe Biden declared that the Solyndra investment is ‘exactly what the [the stimulus package] is all about.’”

While diverting taxpayer money away from productive and efficient businesses to corporate-welfare recipients controlled by political cronies, the Obama Administration is busy wiping out jobs through thousands of pages of counterproductive regulations.  Some of these new regulations are designed to spawn lawsuits that will enrich trial lawyers at businesses’  and consumers’ expense.

Obama appointees at the EEOC are busy harassing businesses that hire and fire based on merit, thus discouraging employers from hiring or expanding operations, and the EEOC is bringing costly, unjustified lawsuits against businesses.  The 2010 healthcare law imposes financial burdens — some of them large, and others difficult to calculate — on the nation’s employers, resulting in some business owners deciding not to expand or hire new employees.

Many businesses are also suffering from the effects of the Dodd-Frank financial “reform” law, a 2,315 page monstrosity that makes it harder for small businesses to obtain credit, and also outsources and wipes out jobs in the financial sector. Even one-time Obama supporters in the business community have grown disenchanted: Democratic businessman Steve Wynn called Obama“the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime,” saying that “the business community in this country is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he’s gone, everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs.”

The Obama administration has sought to temporarily pump up the economy with stimulus spending paid for with massive deficits, but as the Congressional Budget Office has noted, the stimulus package will actually shrink the economy in the long run, so it will not be able to offset the economic drag resulting from all of the Obama administration’s new regulations and red tape.

Post image for How’s the Stimulus for Electric Vehicles Working Out, Mr. President?

In his January 2011 State of the Union speech, President Obama called for “more research and incentives” so that America could “become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.” In yesterday’s Washington PostCarol Leonnig and Joe Stephens report that the Obama Administration “has poured roughly $5 billion dollars in taxpayer funds into the electric car industry, offering incentives to manufacturers, their suppliers and even car buyers who might want to go green.” This included $2.4 billion in Stimulus support to develop advanced batteries for all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

How’s it all working out — will America have million electric vehicles on the road by 2015? It’s doubtful we’ll see anything close to that. [click to continue…]

Post image for Obama’s Green Albatross

Stimulus spending on environmentalist policy is a green albatross around the neck of President Barack Obama. Inspectors General are having a field day auditing stimulus-funded programs for so-called “green jobs,” and the media LOVES stories about wasted taxpayer money. What started as a sop to his environmentalist base, now threatens to become a slow-drip nightmare of negative press. The timing couldn’t be worse for the President. It takes time to disburse scores of billions of dollars, so we are only now starting to scrutinize stimulus spending. By November 2012, we’ll be able to account for most of the money, and unless the current trend changes radically, the Executive in Chief is going to look conspicuously incompetent.

Here’s the back-story: In early 2009, the Executive and Legislative branches of government had a popular mandate to defibrillate America’s moribund economy with a huge injection of taxpayer dollars. Instead of limiting this “stimulus” to state bailouts and infrastructure spending, the Obama administration (led by climate “czar” and former EPA administrator Carol Browner) and the Congressional majority (led by House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills)) also sought to advance environmentalist policy.  As a result, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a. the stimulus, included almost $70 billion in spending for green jobs and renewable energy infrastructure.

Every single link along the green energy supply chain was showered with subsidies. There was funding for green jobs training, funding for factories to make green products, and funding to incentivize demand for green goods and services. It was as like a green Gosplan!

[click to continue…]

The Green Jobs Fumble

by Brian McGraw on August 19, 2011

in Blog

Post image for The Green Jobs Fumble

Coming out of The New York Times of all places, “Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises.” Unsurprisingly, it has the green groups riled up.

A study released in July by the non-partisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more — 2.2 percent — in Silicon Valley. Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.

Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show. Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter, according to the State Department of Community Services and Development.

The weatherization program was initially delayed for seven months while the federal Department of Labor determined prevailing wage standards for the industry. Even after that issue was resolved, the program never really caught on as homeowners balked at the upfront costs.

(Note that it took seven months, as in 210 days or almost 60% of a year, to figure out wage standards for an industry. Good enough for government work.)

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Two weeks ago, my colleague Chris Horner and I coauthored an oped about the renewable energy industry’s dependence on taxpayer subsidies. To make our point, we listed a number of examples of renewable energy executives warning that massive layoffs were imminent, unless the Congress passed or renewed green energy giveaways.

-Biomass Power Association President Robert Cleaves (February 2010): “Thousands of jobs in the biomass power industry could be lost if Congress fails to extend the production tax credit.”

-American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode (July 2010): “Manufacturing facilities will go idle and lay off workers if Congress doesn’t act now” to impose a federal mandate for electricity produced by AWEA members.

-Solar Energy Industry Association President Rhone Resch (September 2008): “Unless Congress promptly returns to complete their unfinished business, the solar industry will suffer with the loss of 39,000 jobs.”

-Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen (November 2010): “Allowing the tax incentive to expire would risk jobs in a very important domestic energy sector and across rural America.”

Currently, the Congress is deliberating whether or not to extend a particularly generous subsidy that was established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a. the stimulus. It’s called the Treasury Department section 1603 tax credit, and it allows renewable energy projects to receive up to 30% of their capital costs up front. The Congress created this subsidy because the 2008/2009 financial crisis rendered ineffective the production tax credit, which had been the renewable energy industry’s primary means of remaining economically viable. The production tax credit was based on corporations having profits and therefore a tax liability. The financial crisis, of course, wiped out corporate profits. So the Congress included the section 1603 program in the stimulus. Now, the renewable energy industry wants to keep both subsidies alive. When it comes to government goodies, the more the merrier.

In this context, the American Wind Energy Association yesterday issued a press release that lends further credence to the point made by Chris and me in our oped. Consider,


In the process of preparing year-end numbers on the industry, the American Wind Energy Association reports that tens of thousands of Americans could lose their jobs or not get called back from layoffs without the 1603 investment tax credit for renewable energy that hangs in the balance as Congress and the White House work to settle a tax package.

“We have people being laid off right now, and we expect to see more without fast action on the tax extenders now being negotiated,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. “The 1603 tax credit extension would help bring them back as soon as possible.” According to the trade group’s research, there are over 15,000 jobs in the manufacturing pipeline alone. “We are risking those jobs by not sending a clear signal that America remains open for business in wind energy,” Bode said.

The 1603 tax investment credit saved 55,000 jobs in wind energy, as estimated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Overall employment has reached 85,000 in the American wind industry, as installed capacity has grown 40 percent in each of the past two years. Wind now generates 20 percent of the electricity in Iowa; and on Oct. 28, high winds pushed wind power to 25 percent of the electrical generation in Texas.

As Chris and I conclude,

Of course, it is only natural for aid-dependent industries to warn that they would suffer without the continuation of aid. Employing this circular logic, taxpayer funded renewable power has remained the “energy of the future” for decades. But American taxpayers simply cannot afford to subsidize industries that are forever-nascent.

Back in February 2009, when everyone thought a deep depression was imminent, Keynesian economists and their political boosters demanded big government spending. According to their calculations, a “timely, targeted, and temporary” infusion of taxpayer money would defibrillate our moribund economy, the growth of which would make the trillion-dollar price tag seem like small potatoes. It was elementary!

So the White House pushed, and the Congress passed, a gigantic trillion-dollar stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It was, however, anything but “targeted.” Instead, it was a grab bag of special interest handouts.

About $90 billion of those taxpayer funded giveaways went to “green” energy, which is about as trendy a cause as there is right now. Today, on the thirtieth of June, almost a year and half after the stimulus passed, the Department of Energy has awarded a scant 15% of its “green” energy stimulus funds. So much for “timely.”

Despite the fact that so little of the stimulus has yet been spent, House leadership already wants more. This week, powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Michigan Representative Sandy Levin (D) is pushing a bill that would extend Stimulus green energy tax incentives, to the tune of $20 billion. So it seems that “temporary” was also a sham.