Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.
This morning, President Barack Obama bashed the Republican argument that the United States can no longer compete in global manufacturing. Earlier this week, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) said that the bankruptcy of Solyndra means that the United States should surrender the clean-energy race to China. “We can’t compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines,” Stearns told NPR, because one advanced-technology solar company that had received private and public financing had closed shop.
“I’m not going to surrender to other countries,” Obama shot back in today’s press conference, after noting that Stearns, like dozens of other Republicans, is on record supporting the clean-energy loan guarantee program he now attacks:
I heard there was a Republican member of Congress who is engaging in oversight on this. And despite the fact that all of them in the past have been supportive of this loan guarantee program, he concluded, “You know what? We can’t compete against China when it comes to solar energy.”
Well, you know what?
I don’t buy that. I’m not going to surrender to other countries the technological leads that can end up determining whether we’re building that in this country. So we’re going to have to keep on pushing hard to make sure the manufacturing is located here, new businesses are located here, and new technologies are developed here. And there are going to be times when it doesn’t work out, but I’m not going to cave to the competition when they are heavily subsidizing all these industries.
In fact, the clean energy sector in the United States is one of the few bright spots for the middle class in today’s economy. The U.S. solar industry was a net global exporter by $1.9 billion in 2010. U.S. wind power capacity represents more than 20 percent of the world’s installed wind power. The clean energy sector grew by 8.3 percent between 2003 and 2010, nearly twice as fast as the overall economy, with good-paying jobs for blue- and white-collar workers.
However, Republicans like Stearns are actively trying to cripple the future of clean energy manufacturing, by killing off any rules or programs that reward clean work instead of fossil-fuel pollution.