With a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute that states, "Between 2001 and 2011, the trade deficit with China eliminated or displaced more than 2.7 million U.S. jobs," much attention has lately been aimed at outsourcing.
But we're losing jobs in less publicized ways, too. David Pitt points out in his article "Congress not acting on credits despite job fears" that 27,000 jobs are in jeopardy as Congress decides on the fate of the tax credit that created those jobs. And while 27,000 jobs may not sound like much when compared to the damage outsourcing has done, these jobs represent a potential turning point in our ability to sustain our economy and environment.
The 27,000 Americans that face unemployment work on the manufacture and implementation of wind turbines. And with the recent, dramatic rise of domestic turbine production, jobs in this sector were on the rise.
But the credit's renewal faces slim odds. It has become yet another battlefield for Congress's war over spending. Interestingly, the sides on this battlefield are not split along the aisle. "Extension of the tax credit," Pitt says, "is caught up in deep differences over spending in Congress, where fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party are fighting renewal even as other GOP members push to have the program continued."
In fact, the man behind the tax credit, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, is a Republican, while the one and only Mitt Romney opposes the credit's renewal; you might remember Romney's attack on current green energy expenses in the first debate. His answer to green energy spending was, "I like coal." Grassley said Romney's stance on the wind tax credit "was just like a knife in my back." It seems Washington's perpetual spending war will claim almost 30,000 jobs not because of partisan politics, but because of GOP in-fighting.
Opponents of the credit focus on debt and wind energy's current unprofitability. But the credit's importance cannot be overstated. In addition to providing thousands of jobs and potentially thousands more, the tax credit also represents a preliminary step toward rebuilding our economy and our environment. Wind energy was once extremely expensive because we had to import turbines. However, Pitt states, "More than 470 manufacturing facilities are operating, up from 30 in 2004." This increase meant job creation. And it could mean more job creation in the future if given the chance.
The merits of wind energy are obvious, and the wind energy tax credit could be a win-win. We could have a potentially limitless clean energy source while putting more Americans back to work.
But we seem to have taken one step forward and two steps back. Pitt notes, "The policy uncertainty has already caused job cuts as wind energy producers delay new projects until it's clear whether the credits will be renewed." As the odds of a vote to renew the credit before it expires wane, more Americans lose their jobs.
We are on the verge of letting this tax credit fall by the wayside even though it has yielded some very promising results, and, given the chance, it can make America's future cleaner and brighter. More of us can get back to work, we can produce more of our own energy, and our environment will thank us. So let your elected officials know it matters!