The Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University has tracked “stimulus bill” spending on wind power — nearly $2 billion in all — and the results are not pretty. It turns out that nearly 80 percent of the money spent has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines, creating thousands of jobs overseas rather than in America. Americans apparently are getting temporary jobs erecting the machinery at the wind farm locations here in the United States, whereas employees of factories in places like China and Vietnam are getting the bread-and-butter blue collar manufacturing jobs that so many Americans crave. Even Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senator from New York, thinks that the stimulus wind power spending has been a jobs creation bust. And in the meantime, the $2 billion spent on the wind projects was all borrowed money on which American taxpayers will be paying interest to holders of American debt, in places like China, for years to come. And, it may well be that wind power projects will have to be subsidized by the government well into the foreseeable future, too.
This story is not that much of a surprise, given the dismal track record of the pork-laden, poorly considered stimulus bill. But it also should be a lesson to wary taxpayers as Congress discusses new “jobs” bills. (No one on Capital Hill wants to use the word “stimulus” ever again.) Simply appropriating money for “feel-good” government projects, like the wind power projects in the stimulus bill, doesn’t necessarily create jobs in America. The only sure way to meet that goal is to identify and fund projects that necessarily will involve work, from beginning to end, that must occur in America. Infrastructure improvements would be good examples. An even better approach would be to encourage appropriate development of America’s oil and natural gas resources, which would have the effect of creating jobs in America while easing our dependence on foreign energy sources.
After the “health care reform” disaster, Congress is now talking up a “jobs agenda,” hoping that they will have some accomplishment to point to when the reelection campaigns gear up in a few months and unemployment continues to linger at or above 10 percent. Let’s hope any such legislation is done in a more thoughtful way that actually meets the desired goal of putting Americans back to work.