—Bloomberg has a smart take on the problem of subsidizing green jobs: a lot of them are created in China.
President Barack Obama is spending $2.1 million to help Suntech Power Holdings Co. build a solar- panel plant in Arizona. It will hire 70 Americans to assemble components made by Suntech’s 11,000 Chinese workers.
That gap shows the challenge Obama faces as he works to create “green” jobs. Asia makes more than half the world’s wind and solar energy equipment, and is gaining ground as U.S. factories lose out to cheaper labor and higher demand for clean energy.
It’s like pouring water into a bucket full of holes.
—Roll Call examines the well-worn path from Capitol Hill to the law firms and lobby shops on K Street, and assesses the prospects for lawmakers who are calling it quits this year. It’s a good story to keep an eye on.
—The Daily Caller reports that the Obama administration is considering a proposal that would give government contracting preferences to companies that go beyond existing labor laws and provide hourly workers with health insurance, paid sick days, and other benefits. The site, launched by Tucker Carlson last month, hasn’t established its street cred yet, but it’s nice to see some coverage of the Department of Labor.
—The New Republic takes a thoughtful look at one of our favorite themes, those Washington tasks that should be easy to accomplish, and usually are – but then “some unique brand of dysfunction intervenes.” The case in point this time is President Obama’s plan to phase out the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
—The WSJ’s Neil King Jr. profiles Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who chairs the Senate Budget Committee. Conrad is one of the fiercest deficit hawks on the Hill—don’t let that bichon frisé on his lap fool you. (The dog’s name is Dakota, of course.) But, as the piece illustrates with some nice irony, he’s also done better than most at bringing home the bacon.
While advocating fiscal responsibility at the national level, the senator has ministered adroitly to one of the most government-dependent states in the country: a vast swath of parched prairie that is home to needy military air bases, Indian reservations, an aging population of 639,000 and thousands of farmers who, over the last decade, have collectively gobbled up an average of $715 million a year in crop subsidies and disaster payments.
—Matt Goldstein of Reuters reports that AIG has struck a deal in effect to borrow Barclay’s good credit rating to preserve some of the value of AIG’s derivative contracts. Good story there.
While it’s startling to think that, even with $180 billion in U.S. government support, AIG still has to worry about its credit profile, Moody’s says it bases its rating on AIG’s prospects once the support is withdrawn. It now rates the company A3, far below its pre-crash heyday, with a negative outlook. And yes, we’re still listening to the rating agencies. Don’t ask us why.