You couldn’t BURN money as fast as Obama is flushing it away

Half the government’s $38.6 billion is spent. Result? 3,545 new, “permanent” green jobs created, at a cost of a mere $5.6 million per job — leaving just 61,455 promised jobs to go.

Yet the Energy Department says the Obama administration’s green-jobs loan guarantee program is still on track to meet its employment goal!

The administration announced when it launched the $38.6 billion program that it would create or save 65,000 jobs, but the program came under scrutiny Wednesday from both Republicans and Democrats at a House oversight committee hearing about the collapse of Solyndra, a solar-panel maker whose closure could leave taxpayers on the hook for as much as $527 million.

Mr. Obama’s efforts to create green jobs “is lagging behind expectations,” The Post reports. Many economists say that because alternative-energy projects are so expensive and slow to ramp up, they are not the most efficient way to stimulate the economy.

“There are good reasons to create green jobs, but they have more to do with green than with jobs,” says Princeton University economics professor and former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder.

The way the Energy Department contends the green-jobs program is still on track to meet its employment goals is to claim credit for saving 33,000 jobs at Ford Motor Co., about half of the Detroit automaker’s entire hourly and salaried U.S. workforce.

The department says the biggest of its loan guarantees, for $5.9 billion, protected the jobs at Ford by enabling the automaker to upgrade plants in five states to build more energy-efficient vehicles. The Energy Department said the loan would “convert” the Ford jobs to “green manufacturing jobs.”

Several economists told The Post they doubt the loan program saved 33,000 jobs at Ford.

“I always take these job estimates with a big grain of salt,” Josh Lerner, a Harvard Business School professor, said in an email. “There tends to be a lot of fuzzy math when it comes to calculating these benefits (regardless of the party taking credit for the program).”

A Ford spokeswoman says the loans helped “transform what were primarily truck/SUV plants into flexible manufacturing plants capable of building more fuel-efficient vehicles.” That flexibility is key to “helping retain the 33,000 jobs by ensuring our employees can build the fuel-efficient cars people want to drive,” said Meghan Keck, Ford’s main lobbyist.

Maybe. Smaller, four-cylinder gasoline-powered cars such as the Ford Fusion are indeed doing relatively well. But if Americans “want to drive” radically green cars — electrics, for instance — they sure have a funny way of showing it. Nationwide, Nissan led all such sales in the U.S. in June, moving 1,708 “Leafs,” while Chevy sold just 571 “Volts” in June, up from 481 in May.

Mark Muro, a Brookings Institution fellow who researches the clean-tech industry, said the agency appears to be counting every employee working in upgraded plants, when the more relevant question is how many workers would have been laid off without the loan.

The auto industry has re-tooled to manufacture more popular models plenty of times. I don’t remember anyone needing a government grant or forgivable “loan” to roll out the Mustang, the Charger, or the Camaro.

Come on. For politicians and bureaucrats who have never brought so much as a root-beer stand to fruition in the real world to lavish billions of Other People’s Money (40 percent of it borrowed at interest) on politically favored ventures that resemble something out of a Gyro Gearloose cartoon — while blocking permits to harness proven energy reserves through onshore drilling, offshore drilling, Alaskan drilling, natural gas drilling, shale-oil drilling, new pipelines, new refineries, you name it — and then to claim they’ve “saved” every worker who still manages to cling to a job, is like a child leaning against a tree and claiming credit for holding it up.

BrightSource Energy, a developer of utility-scale solar-power projects, is the recipient of a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee, the second-biggest awarded so far. The outfit currently employs 700 construction workers, but will employ only 86 people on a permanent basis, The Post reports … at a net cost of $18 million in taxpayer “investment” for each permanent job created.

Obama administration officials respond those jobs “are high-quality and will improve the economy’s productivity,” The Post reports.

Do you know what the permanent operators of solar farms do? They hose the dust off the solar panels.

You could get the same economic result by paying each of the same 86 people $90,000 per year for the next 20 years to do nothing, since they’d still have to spend it somewhere. If you want them to run a hose for awhile, buy them each an above-ground, backyard pool.

If that’s “efficient job creation,” let’s ask for another couple of billion and put a thousand people to work digging a tunnel to bring Mississippi floodwaters under the Rockies to the arid West … with teaspoons.

One Comment to “You couldn’t BURN money as fast as Obama is flushing it away”

  1. Steve Says:

    Job creation and green powered cars aside. The premise of selling a vehicle in this country based on its green tech by naming it as such or simply claiming such great fuel economy as to be great for the wallet simply does not work. People buy new cars because they want them, not because we want to spend large sums of hard earned money to just to feel good about our existense on this planet. I buy a car because it can do what I want of it, it looks good and I can afford it. I do not care what powers it or how much mileage (primarily) it gets, that is a consideration at or near the bottom of my list. If I find a car that fills the bill and is powered by green tech, I could not care less about what is under the hood, I will buy the car.

    Point is, make the changes as they become available and the buying public will buy what they like, creating jobs all along the way. No matter what is under the hood.

    I can dream can I not?

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