Here’s a little story about wind you might have heard.
First we’ll tell it the way it happened. And then we’ll tell it the way Mitt Romney’s campaign thinks it happened.
Chapter 1: Since 2008, U.S. wind generation has increased 171 percent, bringing in nearly $20 billion in private investment and supporting 75,000 American jobs.
Chapter 2: Partly helped by a bi-partisan tax credit originally crafted by a Republican Senator from Iowa and championed by President Obama, wind accounts for 32 percent of new capacity in 2011.
Chapter 3: That development helps fuel new growth in manufacturing. In 2006, only 35 percent of components for wind turbines came from American companies. Today, with 500 manufacturing facilities operating around the country, 67 percent of components for turbines now come from American companies.
Chapter 4: All that new manufacturing activity helps some struggling Midwestern towns with high unemployment gain back their manufacturing jobs. It even helps Iowa get 20 percent of its electricity from wind.
Chapter 5: But that bipartisan tax credit, which maintained wind’s momentum even while natural gas prices hover near record lows due to a supply glut, is now set to expire at the end of the year. (Author’s note: Much of that new natural gas was made available because of key government support too.) In response, Republican representatives, governors, conservative county commissioners, and the largest companies in the world all send letters to Congress asking for a short-term extension of the credit.
Chapter 6: Congress balks.
Chapter 7: Mitt Romney says he supports killing the tax credit; Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says Romney’s position is “like a knife in my back.” Soon after, Paul Ryan says he opposes the tax credit. Ryan then goes back out of the campaign stump pushing his “austerity” budget, which preserves $40 billion in permanent tax credits for the fossil fuel industry.
Chapter 8: The wind industry starts frantically reminding people about projections from Navigant Consulting showing a loss of 37,000 jobs if the tax credit expires.
Chapter 9: The projections start playing out. As the expiration date for the wind tax credit approaches, wind companies start cancelling projects and laying off workers due to a slump in demand for 2013. Manufacturers and developers in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania cancel projects, lay off workers, or announce plans to lay off workers.
Chapter 10: On Tuesday, Siemens announces that it will lay off 615 wind workers in Kansas, Florida, and Iowa. The company blames political uncertainty around the production tax credit for wind. At no point does Siemens blame President Obama.
Begin Romney campaign version:
Appendix 1: Responding to the Siemens wind announcement, the Romney campaign tries a different approach to the story — oddly blaming the layoffs entirely on Obama:
“Today’s layoffs at Siemens are yet another unfortunate reminder of the Obama Economy where American families have suffered from chronic unemployment, increased poverty and falling incomes. There is a fundamental disconnect between President Obama’s philosophy of the need for redistribution of wealth and the free market economy which our country was founded on. President Obama has focused on attacking the success of others rather than applauding their accomplishments and urging others to strive for similar success. Mitt Romney’s plan for a stronger middle class will foster the dignity of work, champion innovation, generate new wealth, and create 12 million new jobs in his first term alone in a variety of sectors, including wind.”
Appendix 2: No one notices because everyone is too preoccupied with secret tapes showing Romney calling 47 percent of Americans “dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing.”