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Green jobs versus reality

This week Henry Waxman, the Democratic economic policy guru and esteemed ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, summarized the Democratic position on job creation when he said he supported “real jobs, not these pipeline jobs.”

Those “experts” on President Obama’s Jobs Council must not known real jobs from fake, because they wrote in their report that “timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary.” The tens of thousands of jobs that will be created by the Keystone XL pipeline without spending a penny of taxpayer money? Those are just fake jobs. Pipeline jobs. Nothing doing there.

What are the “real jobs” that Waxman supports?

Well, for starters, he supports the ongoing, unprecedented expansion of the EPA’s power over the American economy. Waxman, like President Obama, believes the 1970 Clean Air Act should be transformed into a backdoor global warming law by bureaucratic legerdemain. That effort, poised to enter a new, more expansive phase soon, will require EPA, by its own estimates, to add 230,000 federal bureaucrats just to process (or more likely interminably stall) all the required paperwork.

A near quarter-million new federal bureaucrats at a direct budgetary cost to taxpayers of over $21 billion per year, tripling the EPA’s budget? Those are “real jobs.” The millions of jobs lost? Those are just “pipeline jobs,” or manufacturing jobs or agriculture jobs or jobs in other such unnecessary, antiquated, and “fake” sectors of the U.S. economy. (For the record: the best historical research indicates each new federal bureaucrat destroys about 98 private sector jobs per year.)

Waxman and Obama also, of course, support the ongoing “green jobs” disaster spawned by the stimulus bill. As bankruptcies pile up from Solyndra to Beacon to Ener1, the number of “real jobs” created keeps dwindling. Maybe the $737 million given to Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law through the SolarReserve “Crescent Dunes” solar project will actually create its promised 45 permanent jobs — “real jobs” at $16 million per.

We now know that Obama’s top economist when the stimulus passed, Larry Summers, wrote a memo saying that the “core” of the stimulus spending, including the green energy spending, “would spend out quickly and be inherently temporary.” Wonder if anyone told all the laid off Solyndra workers they were “inherently temporary.” But those are “real jobs,” right, Mr. Waxman?

We should be like those enlightened Germans that Obama keeps telling us about. Except that Germany, where taxpayers have been forced to massively subsidize “real jobs” in the solar power industry, now faces disaster. According to a recent report in Der Spiegel, total solar subsidies in Germany now top €100 billion, or about $130 billion. 

And now, with darker skies (this happens annually; the scientific term for it is “winter”), they are importing massive amounts of nuclear power from France and the Czech Republic, while firing up an antiquated oil-fired (yes, oil-fired) power plant in Austria. Per Der Spiegel: “Merkel had consistently touted the environmental sector's ‘opportunities for exports, development, technology and jobs.’ But now even members of her own staff are calling it a massive money pit.” But Obama and Waxman, ignoring all evidence, still see “real jobs” (for their cronies?) somewhere in that massive money pit.

Of course Waxman is best known for his infamous Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation, a top Obama priority that was jammed through the House when Nancy Pelosi was in charge over the objections of Americans who understood it would destroy millions of those fake jobs Waxman considers worth sacrificing to a larger, more intrusive federal bureaucracy. 

Fortunately the Senate – even with a 60 Democrat supermajority – rejected that bill without even bringing it up for a vote. But Waxman’s cap-and-trade effort did create jobs after all – for dozens of freshman Republican members of Congress.

In his State of the Union President Obama made it clear where he stands. Looking all this failure in the face, Obama insisted he would “double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising.” Unfortunately, as any gambler can tell you, doubling down on losing hands is a great way to lose all your money fast.

Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and author of "Democracy Denied: How Obama is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America – and How to Stop Him" (BenBella Books 2011).

Phil Kerpen is the founder of American Commitment Action Fund, on the web at www.BookerFAIL.com.