Human Events Blog

$4 billion in “stimulus” funding goes to foreign companies

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has been tracking down all that “green energy” stimulus money, and a new report reveals that quite a bit of those money trails led overseas:

The report, “American Taxpayer Investment, Foreign Corporation Benefit,” reveals that foreign renewable energy companies have benefited extensively from the stimulus-created program at the expense of their domestic competition and the American taxpayer. This report follows the committee’s previous report, “Where are the Jobs? – The Elusiveness of Job Creation under the Section 1603 Grant Program for Renewable Energy,” which revealed that job creation is an afterthought of the Section 1603 program and that the program has produced very few long-term jobs at a high per-job cost to taxpayers.

Committee staff examined Treasury-reported data on Section 1603 grant awardees to determine who has benefited from the program to date, and by how much. As of December 5, 2012 (the most recent available data from Treasury), $16 billion in Section 1603 grants had been approved. The committee found that nearly a quarter of these funds went to U.S. subsidiaries of large European and Asian corporations.  According to the report, “With these grants, foreign companies appear to have unduly benefitted from a program ostensibly aimed at stimulating the U.S. economy, growing American businesses, and creating U.S. jobs.”

Maybe that’s why post-stimulus job creation has been so lackluster.  The numbers would look better if the U.S. Labor Department included jobs created by Spanish windmills.  Or maybe not, since to the extent anyone can figure out the causes and effects of these big spending programs, the number of jobs directly created by $9 billion worth of renewable energy grants from Section 1603 of the Recovery Act was about “910 annually for the lifetime of the systems,” which works out to $9,890,109 for every job created.

It’s hard to get exact numbers, because as the House Energy Committee report observes, “despite the Obama Administration’s wide pronouncements that 1603 was a jobs program… the Department of the Treasury does not keep track of jobs numbers.”  Hey, why get ourselves all worked up about how many jobs a lousy $9 billion actually creates, or which country $4 billion in stimulus funding actually ends up stimulating?

Most of the foreign money went to overseas companies running subsidiaries in the United States, so the upshot of the program was American money sent to foreign corporations so they could employ American workers.  That’s not at all what the “stimulus” bill was portrayed as, of course.  I’m not sure what share of the money from this program American voters expected to be “invested” with American companies, but I’m pretty sure it was higher than 75 percent.

“The more we learn about DOE’s stimulus spending, the worse it appears,” Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chair Tim Murphy (R-PA) said.  “The 1603 green energy program failed to deliver the jobs promised, and now we learn that a significant portion of these taxpayer-funded grants are benefiting foreign competitors rather than boosting American industry.  We will continue our rigorous oversight of this program to help protect taxpayers’ dollars, now turning our attention to the sourcing of major components manufactured overseas for stimulus-supported projects.”

“With $16 trillion in debt, we cannot afford to send one out of every four taxpayer dollars overseas for a program that has failed to create the jobs promised,” declared Energy and Commerce chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).  Well, technically we can’t “afford” it, even if four out of four dollars remains in the United States, but the concept of the federal government’s ability to “afford” something has become rather elastic these days.  Naturally, President Obama wants to extend the program for another year.

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