Shovel-Ready in Europe

Obama campaign ad touts record of giving billions to firms to create jobs overseas

May 1, 2012

A new Obama campaign ad accusing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of shipping jobs overseas celebrates the president’s clean energy program, which has given taxpayer-guaranteed loans to foreign-owned companies and firms that manufacture their products outside the United States.

The ad, unveiled Tuesday, includes a map of the country touting the "jobs created by President Obama’s clean energy initiatives," and which appears to be based on a map featured on the website of the Department of Energy Loans Program Office.

The ad aims to contrast the president’s record with that of Romney, who is alleged to have "shipped American jobs to places like Mexico and China" as CEO of Bain Capital.

Though the map in the ad omits mention of Solyndra and Beacon Power Corporation, companies that went bankrupt despite receiving a combined $578 million in taxpayer guaranteed loans, it does include a number of taxpayer-funded firms that needed tens of millions of dollars to create a single permanent job and are either foreign-owned, manufacturing their products overseas, or on the brink of financial collapse.

Obama’s "clean energy initiatives," as highlighted in the ad, include three taxpayer-guaranteed loans to Spanish clean energy conglomerate Abengoa worth $2.78 billion to create 195 permanent jobs (a rate of more than $14 million per job), as well as a $529 million loan guarantee to Fisker Automotive, a fledgling electric car company that manufactures its products in Finland and recently announced another round of layoffs in the hope of securing more taxpayer funding.

The Department of Energy has awarded nearly $6 billion in taxpayer-guaranteed loans to the Ford Motor Company, which has been rapidly expanding its operations, just not in the United States.

Several other companies touted in the ad are on the brink of financial collapse despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer support.

Abound Solar, which recently laid off 70 percent of its workforce in Colorado, received a $400 million loan guarantee from the DOE.

Nevada Geothermal Power Company received more than $160 million in federal grants and loans to create just 14 permanent jobs (roughly $11.4 million per job). The firm’s own auditor recently expressed "significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern," citing a shortage of cash reserves and mounting debt.

There are myriad other examples of companies cited in the ad that have, by the administration’s own estimates, created surprisingly few jobs relative to the massive amount of federal support they have received.

Colorado solar firm Cogentrix of Alamosa, for example, created 5.43 jobs despite received a taxpayer-guaranteed loan worth $89 million (a rate of approximately $16.4 million per job).

Record Hill Wind in Maine received a $102 million DOE loan guarantee and created just eight permanent jobs ($12.8 million per job). Another wind company, Kahuku Wind Power, created 10 permanent jobs after receiving a $117 million loan guarantee ($11.7 million per job).

NRG Solar received a $1.2 billion taxpayer-guaranteed loan to build a mammoth solar facility in California. According to the DOE, the project created 15 permanent jobs—a rate of $80 million per job.