Romney and the GOP are throwing clean energy under the bus.
Once again, the clean energy industry is collateral damage in an election year war of words.
After being repeatedly called out by fact-checkers for straight-up lying in political ads attacking clean energy jobs, the GOP is doubling down on claims about the stimulus package that the Washington Post has called “ridiculous.”
The Republican National Committee just rolled out a new website that rehashes many of the party’s widely-debunked assertions that the President sent jobs overseas through the stimulus. Responding to the Obama campaign’s charges that Romney outsourced jobs while at the private equity firm Bain Capital, the GOP is attempting to weave an outsourcing story of its own — this one centered on clean energy jobs.
Even with 660,00 jobs supported by green buildings, 75,000 jobs in the wind industry, 100,000 jobs supported by the solar industry, and 155,000 jobs in the clean and efficient vehicle sector, the RNC is stepping up its claims that the Obama Administration hurt jobs through his promotion of clean energy in the stimulus package.
(Apparently, somebody forgot to send the RNC a copy of the Brookings Institution report showing that jobs in renewable energy grew by 8.3 percent during the height of the recession due to the stimulus.)
This latest RNC narrative is based almost entirely on fiction. As the Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler points, out in his debunk of the RNC campaign: “Most of the examples are ripped out of context, involve strange leaps of logic or are so minor that it’s barely worth paying attention.”
But the campaign itself — no matter how untruthful — is definitely worth paying attention to. It puts clean energy square in the GOP’s political cross hairs and will likely serve as key piece of Mitt Romney’s talking points.
In fact, at a campaign rally earlier this week, Romney repeated some of the RNC’s claims almost word-for-word, calling Obama an outsourcer by “putting money into solar and wind energy companies that make their products outside of the U.S.”
So what are the facts? The website provides more than two dozen “ripped out of context” examples of jobs being created overseas; however, it provides no documentation backing up them up. Only when you dig deep into the “Research Briefing” section of an alternative GOP website can you find the stories they reference.
It’s no wonder the citations were hidden. The stories they link to are either laughably inconsequential, contradictory, or completely outdated. Speaking to the Washington Post, here’s how one reporter described the RNC’s use of his previous investigative work on whether foreign products were being used for renewable energy projects being constructed in America:
“The RNC’s website does correctly cite some of the data we uncovered in the course of our investigation, however most of that reporting is over two years old and the RNC site presents just a snippet of what we found. The focus of our reporting was whether or not the Obama administration created as many jobs domestically as they promised they would — not on the question of whether there was “outsourcing” of jobs. I don’t think we saw anything that indicated the Obama administration pushed jobs overseas. What we found is that a large portion of the money from that program was given to foreign-owned companies to build wind farms here in the United States. We found those projects did create jobs here in the United States in construction and operation of those wind farms, but in many instances, the farms used turbines that may have been manufactured overseas. In many cases, manufacturers told us that domestically manufactured turbines were not available. When we last reported on the issue, we found that more and more domestic companies were getting involved, but I can’t say what the situation is today.”
In its breakdown of the campaign, The Washington Post rips down almost new every claim made in the campaign. It’s well worth checking out Glenn Kessler’s detailed analysis to see why he calls the narrative so “ridiculous.”
But there are a few other key points worth highlighting. If the Republican party has made a decision to aggressively target renewable energy in its political attacks, they need to answer a few questions.
1) Is the GOP opposing foreign investment to increase America’s competitiveness?