Porta-Potties to Antiques: The Curious Journey of Obama's 'Green Jobs'
"How significant is it when they claim 3.1 million jobs and it seems like these are not significant at all?" Issa said, noting that "porta-potty emptying" is now considered a green job. "You weren't training for 'magical new jobs,' you were training for jobs that existed."
Witnesses also noted an emphasis on green jobs -- however defined and eligible for tax preferences or subsidies because of that designation -- has driven other jobs overseas.
"I'd like to argue that we should focus on job creation rather than green jobs because we have over 12 million unemployed. Our broadest rate of unemployment is 14.8 percent," said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute.
"Much emphasis on green has driven jobs overseas. The ban on incandescent light bulbs has resulted in the closure of those factories and the new CFLs, the new fluorescents are all made in China. So there are green jobs, but green jobs for China," she said.
"Many solar panels, wind turbines that are required by law are made overseas in places such as China."
Later in the hearing, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) went after Furchtgott-Roth for "evidently" not agreeing with the Obama administration's green-energy agenda.
"But as you know, today's hearing is not about that policy," Clay said. "The hearing title plainly says that the hearing is about DOL's reporting of jobs figures, which includes the definition and the number of green jobs calculated by the Bureau of Labor Stats."
Issa noted that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, formerly a California congresswoman, once sponsored legislation to count green jobs that was rolled into the stimulus goals.
"So the very idea that this is not political, when in fact, our former colleague is responsible for it and now oversees making sure that the numbers come out, I think we have to be honest," Issa said.
"It is all about politics. It has always been all about politics."
Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), who sponsored the Green Jobs Act with Solis, countered that it was about training people to take available jobs and not creating them.
"There have been about 100 new renewable energy and energy efficiency manufacturing plants that opened in this country since 2009, a number of them in my district that were telling us they needed people able to do those jobs," Tierney said.
"So I make that distinction on that and I guess the only ones not interested in making sure that the green energy and energy efficiencies industries thrive are the Republican Party because I note the emphasis the Department of Defense is putting on green energy right now for a number of reasons, safety of our troops being one," he said before being cut short by the chairman.
"You may not disparage the intent of members of either party or any individuals here," Issa said.
"Did you feel disparaged Mr. Chairman?" Tierney shot back, commencing to badger the chairman about how he felt disparaged as the chairman accused him of violating House rules.
"To allege that we don't care about energy when in fact what we're seeing is people emptying sewage out of porta-potties being counted as green jobs," Issa responded.
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), reflecting on his Baltimore district, said that when it comes down to the numbers, his constituents don't care if the jobs are green or purple.
"I think of all the young men and women I see every day and they just want a job," Cummings said. "They're not trying to get to Disneyworld, they're just trying to get to the local park with their family."