Obama knocks Romney on renewable energy, tax shelter

PUEBLO, Colorado Thu Aug 9, 2012 7:11pm EDT

An audience listens to U.S. President Barack Obama during an election campaign rally in Colorado Springs, August 9, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

An audience listens to U.S. President Barack Obama during an election campaign rally in Colorado Springs, August 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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PUEBLO, Colorado (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, trying to blunt rival Mitt Romney's attacks on his economic record, accused the Republican on Thursday of promoting policies that would hurt renewable energy and cost jobs in important political swing states.

On the second day of a tour through Colorado, a politically divided state that could be key in deciding the November 6 election, Obama portrayed federal tax credits for the wind industry as a critical economic necessity that Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, would nix.

"At a moment when homegrown energy - renewable energy - is creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers," Obama told a crowd of some 3,500 people at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.

The industry supports 5,000 jobs across Colorado, and 37,000 jobs would be at risk nationwide without the credits, he said.

"It's time to stop spending billions in taxpayer subsidies on an oil industry that is already making a lot of profit," Obama said. "Let's keep investing in new energy sources that have never been more promising."

The White House has made helping the renewable energy sector a centerpiece of Obama's first term in office, but the effort has created some problems for the Democratic president.

The collapse of Solyndra, a solar panel company, not long after it received a $535 million loan through Obama's economic stimulus package prompted several investigations and allegations that Obama was wasting taxpayer money.

The president did not mention Solyndra in his speech. Romney's campaign, in a rebuttal statement, said the former private equity executive supported wind power but not big subsidies.

"Unfortunately, under President Obama's approach of massive subsidies and handouts, the industry has lost 10,000 jobs while growth in wind power has slowed every single year of his term," said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.

"Governor Romney will instead set the industry on a course for success and growth by promoting policies that remove regulatory barriers, support free enterprise and market-based competition, and reward technological innovation."

The state of the U.S. economy is the dominant issue for voters this year, and Romney has accused Obama of not doing enough to address unemployment, which remains stuck above 8 percent.

Obama counters that Romney's support for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and his opposition to government support for the once-struggling auto industry prove that his economic vision would not help spur sustainable growth.

TRADING ACCUSATIONS

Meanwhile, Obama's team stepped up its calls for Romney to release more of his tax returns than the two years of documentation that he has released, continuing to suggest that Romney - who has an estimated fortune of up to $250 million - has something to hide regarding his finances.

Obama's campaign has questioned whether Romney used tax shelters to lower his tax rate far below what most Americans pay, a claim that feeds Democrats' narrative that Romney is out of touch with middle-class people.

On Thursday, Obama's team also cited an opinion piece by two tax analysts on CNN's website that described how Marriott - and Romney, as the head of the hotel company's audit committee - used a complex strategy to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes.

While Obama "has fought for tax reforms that would eliminate special loopholes for the wealthiest and large corporations, it's clear Mitt Romney is quite comfortable exploiting them," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement.

Henneberg called the attack "dishonorable and dishonest," adding that "since Obama can't run on record unemployment, falling incomes and massive debt, he has decided to run a dirty campaign."

(Additional reporting by Salimah Ebrahim in Washington; Editing by David Lindsey and Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (25)
flashrooster wrote:
A Romney Presidency would mean the end of the renewable energy industry in the US. Romney is saying that Obama’s policies have caused the US wind energy industry to shrink every year since Obama’s been President. As usual, Romney is prevaricating, or outright lying. The wind industry has been hurting, but like the solar industry, it’s mostly because China is undercutting the US’s renewable energy businesses. This is all the more reason why it needs government subsidies.

The cost of oil is only going to rise. The future is in renewable energy. We simply can’t afford to allow China to have a monopoly on renewable energy. But that’s what we’ll get with a Romney Presidency because the oil industry will tell him to kill renewable energy and to keep oil subsidies and tax loopholes alive and well.

Aug 09, 2012 8:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
johnathan58 wrote:
Romney just stated a fact-that under Obama’s watch (policies), the Wind energy industry has shrunk. He didn’t say Obama’s policies directly caused the shrinkage, but they sure didn’t help much either, did they? In other words, another Obama failure. Hardly a “lie”. But nice try.

Aug 09, 2012 10:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
NCMAN64 wrote:
Obama’s green energy scheme has proven to be a losing proposition for American taxpayers, but a payoff for obama donors. The failed solar energy companies have cost the taxpayers a few billion dollars but obama’s energy people reworked the conditions of the loans to allow the private investors to recoup their money before the taxpayers, and the obama campaign received large donations for this corrupt activity.
Obama is preventing the drilling of our domestic oil on federal lands, to push his green energy companies, but interest has waned because of cost, proving oil and gas will be with us for quite sometime. We just need to get rid of obama to implement the drilling and the oil pipelines and break the foreign oil dependence. It might even help with the price for gas, that is only headed up under obama.

Aug 09, 2012 10:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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