By John Cheves – firstname.lastname@example.org
The statement: “Chandler voted for the trillion dollar stimulus package that failed to create jobs in Kentucky. Reports now reveal that Chandler’s vote allowed tax breaks for foreign companies to create jobs in China. Jobs for China – and we pay the bill.”
–- Television commercial for Andy Barr, Republican candidate for Congress, attacking his opponent, U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles
The facts: Barr loses on his first claim because the stimulus package – also known as the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – created jobs in Kentucky.
Exactly how many jobs is a matter of fair debate. The federal government estimates 13,145 jobs in Kentucky as of the second quarter of this year, based on reports from recipients of stimulus money, including the state government, local school districts and private employers.
The hiring is scattered among hundreds of projects and places. In March, for example, R.J. Corman Railroad Group of Nicholasville hired 100 workers at $25 to $35 an hour using a stimulus grant. Two months later, in Carrollton, 15 women trained as Head Start teachers under another stimulus grant.
In response to the Herald-Leader this week, the Barr campaign defended its claim, arguing that unemployment has risen since Congress passed the stimulus last year.
However, Barr’s ad doesn’t say that unemployment has risen, it says the stimulus did not create jobs. In reality, unemployment rose despite the stimulus jobs – and for that matter, despite this year’s temporary U.S. Census Bureau jobs.
Various sources, such as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, say unemployment would have been even worse without the stimulus spending.
Barr would have been correct had he stuck with his second claim: News reports this year revealed that some stimulus money for clean energy projects went to companies with workers in China, South Korea and other foreign countries.
The U.S. Energy Department has spent billions of stimulus dollars for wind energy projects in the United States, with some of the money – ABC News put it at 79 percent – going to foreign-owned companies that make the necessary machinery for wind farms. The news stories prompted some Democrats in Congress to protest to President Barack Obama’s administration.
“It makes people lose faith in government, and it frankly infuriates me,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in February.
The American Wind Energy Association on Friday told the Herald-Leader that all of the stimulus tax credits went to projects in the United States, even if some of the companies involved are foreign-owned. Roughly half of the value of the necessary equipment was produced here, the group said.