Obama’s Blue-Green Bust

Townhall Magazine

4/13/2014 9:30:00 AM - Townhall Magazine

In the April issue of Townhall Magazine, Conn Carroll discusses how the engine of the Obama Recovery never made it out of the garage.

“This is the worst economic recovery America has ever had,” Scott Pelley informed “CBS Evening News” viewers on July 17, 2012. And it hasn’t gotten any better since.

Yes, unemployment has fallen from 8.2 percent then to 6.6 percent today. But that fall in unemployment is not due to strong job growth. Job creation under President Obama is still anemic. In fact, the U.S. economy still supports fewer jobs today (137.5 million) than it did at its pre-recession peak (138.4 million).

But if the U.S. economy still has fewer jobs today than it did before Obama was elected president, then how come the unemployment rate is still falling?

Because, for myriad reasons, more and more Americans are dropping out of the workforce entirely. If the same percentage of Americans were looking for work today, that were looking for work in 2008, the unemployment rate today would be a staggering 11.2 percent.

The Obama economy was not supposed to turn out like this. In 2008, even as President Bush’s mortgage-debt based economy crumbled around them, progressive activists were downright giddy about their new unified plan for America’s recovery.

For decades, efforts by the environmentalist wing of the Democratic party to push for stringent regulations on fossil fuel-based industries had been frustrated by the labor wing of the party that was desperate to protect union jobs in those sectors.

But by 2008, thanks to the decline of private sector unions, the labor wing of the Democratic party no longer cared about protecting fossil fuel-dependent jobs. Steelworkers, auto workers, and coal miners are no longer the face of the labor movement in America. Government employees, including correction officers, sanitation workers, teachers, etc., are. And government unions simply don’t care about protecting private sector jobs.

Into this void stepped the “BlueGreen Alliance,” a collection of environmentalist and union groups who promoted a “New Apollo Program” that called for a new cap and trade tax on fossil fuels as well as $500 billion in spending that would “build America’s 21st century” and create “5 million jobs.”

Then-candidate Obama largely embraced the “New Apollo Program” when he introduced his “New Energy for America Plan” that also promised 5 million new jobs. But somehow Obama magically reached that 5 million number while spending just $150 billion.

Asked how Obama could create the same 5 million new jobs with $350 billion less spending, Apollo Alliance co-director Kate Gordon told the Wall Street Journal, “Honestly, it’s just to inspire people.”

So, from the beginning, before Obama was even elected, we knew the Democrats’ new clean-energy economy was a total farce. And now that we are more than five years into the Obama presidency that farce has been completely exposed.

In fact, the failure of Obama’s clean energy agenda to create new jobs was such an embarrassment that the Bureau of Labor Statistics even shut down its new program to count “green jobs.” But before the program closed its doors in 2013, it found that a total of 9,000 green jobs had been created during the entire Obama presidency. Remember, we are still almost 1 million jobs short of pre-recession job levels and we would need 11 new million jobs to bring unemployment down to pre-recession levels given pre-recession participation in the workforce.

Three features in this issue explore why Obama’s clean energy agenda was such a failure. On page 36, Chris Prandoni looks at how Obama’s War on Coal is killing jobs across all sectors of the U.S. economy, while on page 43, Katie Pavlich looks at how wind subsidies in particular raise energy costs, enrich millionaires, and harm the environment. And on page 56, Brian McNicoll examines how the broader clean energy agenda is itself a threat to the environment.

The simple fact is that it is impossible to use government regulations to cripple old industries and subsidize new ones without killing millions of jobs in the process. Yes, some new jobs will be created as people install solar panels and put up wind turbines. But as long as those new technologies are not cost-effective, meaning they require government intervention to be profitable, more jobs will be lost in the process.

Unfortunately for millions of unemployed and underem- ployed Americans, Obama still has not learned this lesson. •