Say What???? Without Any Firm Numbers on Job Creation, President Urges Congress to "Double Down" on Costly Stimulus Program
WASHINGTON, DC - On Thursday, less than 24 hours after the U.S. House unanimously rejected President Obama's $3.6 trillion budget by a vote of 414 to 0, the president urged Congress to "double down" on a stimulus energy program his FY2013 budget seeks to extend. The president made his comments just hours before the Treasury and Energy departments missed the deadline to provide Congress a specific accounting of how many jobs have been created by the $10 billion 1603 stimulus energy program.
Conducting an exercise in good government to protect American taxpayers from further risky investments, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns are seeking answers and an accurate accounting of the 1603 program's record on job creation.
Details have been difficult to come by, despite billions of dollars already spent. Testifying before the committee on March 16, 2011, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu stated that "the Section 1603 tax grant program has created tens of thousands of jobs in industries such as wind and solar by providing up-front incentives to thousands of projects," yet there is still no specific evidence to support his claim.
Committee leaders are concerned by multiple reports of questionable figures detailing temporary and permanent jobs spawned by the Section 1603 grant program. In a November 2011 study, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) wrote, "quantifying and measuring green job creation and growth has been difficult" and added that "it is recommended that any job creation estimate be viewed with skepticism." A Wall Street Journal investigation found problems with accounting for the number of jobs created by the 1603 program, finding "evidence of far fewer (jobs). Some plants laid off workers. Others closed."
It defies reality for President Obama to disregard the nation's unprecedented $15.6 trillion in debt and urge Congress to "double down" on a $10 billion stimulus program that his own administration cannot account for the number of jobs that were created.
As Speaker Boehner said yesterday on the 1603 program, "Listen, the American people continue to ask the question "˜Where are the jobs?' They deserve answers and they deserve the truth."
The clock is ticking for DOE and Treasury to provide answers. Let's know how the cards look, before we double down and gamble billions more.