Of all the lies in last night’s debate, I think the one that annoyed me the most was Mitt Romney’s massive, overbearing lie about green jobs.
He claimed that Obama had put $90 billion in one year into loan guarantees for green energy companies like Solyndra, and that half of them had failed. Leaving debate listeners to think $45 billion in taxpayer money had been lost. (Full transcript is on the next page.)
It appears that, as with so many things, this factoid is the result of a garbled post from the right-wing blogosphere. In this case, it’s a July post based on research by a Heritage Foundation intern that took every failing green energy company that had gotten any government money from any source and lumped them all together.
In addition to Solyndra, these included:
- Raser Technology, the now-bankrupt darling of Utah’s GOP Senator Orin hatch that got a Treasury Dept. grant
- Beacon Power, which did get a loan guarantee and did go bankrupt (but has since been sold, so the government is getting most of its money back),
- Tiny Thomson River, which only got a piddling $5 million for a Montana power plant conversion (which the Treasury hopes to recoup).
- Mountain Plaza Inc., a Tennessee company that only got $424,000 as part of an EPA program.
Romney appears to have get his “half have failed” claim by:
- Taking the 12 assorted firms the Heritage Foundation listed that did fail.
- Making an apples and oranges mixup with the 30 firms that got loan guarantees in the Solydra program (12 is almost half of 30, even though the two numbers have nothing to do with each other)
- Finally, he mashed that into the full $90 billion clean energy stimulus program.
- The actual dollar amount that went to the loan guarantee program: $16.1 billion. Not $90 billion.
- The actual number of failures: For the loan guarantee program, just 3, out of 30.
- The actual cost to the taxpayer: Probably less than $2 billion by the time it’s all done. Not $45 billion.
- And it was over 4 years, not one single year.
Far from being poured down the drain by failed companies, the$90 billion went to infrastructure and investment, so it created good jobs and led to long-term savings:
- About $2 billion to Clean Energy Equipment Manufacturing to build plants that manufacture windmills and solar
- $3 billion for research and development into capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide for “clean coal“.
- $3 billion for job training for the green energy workforce
- $6 billion to the auto industry to help establish factories to manufacture batteries for electric cars and other components of advanced vehicles
- $10 billion for needed modernization of the electric grid
- $18 billion for high-speed rail and mass transit
- $21 billion for renewable electricity generation, including wind turbines and solar panels
- $29 billion for energy efficient homes, including $5 billion for improvements in the homes and apartments of low-income households
Oh, and – guess what? The ARRA did hire teachers. $50 billion directly to schools, students, and worker training.
- Renewable electricity production has doubled in the last four years
- We’ve built some of the most innovative “first of a kind” renewable energy projects in the world
- Content sourced from domestic wind manufacturing has doubled
- We’ve created more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the solar industry
- And we’ve leveraged $100 billion in private investments.
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