This week’s announcement by a wind blade maker that it’s cutting more than 400 jobs in southeast Iowa is a “heartbreaking loss,” according to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. Siemens is eliminating two-thirds of its workforce in Fort Madison and Harkin, a Democrat, is pointing his finger at Republicans for causing the deep job cuts.
“What makes this all the harder to take is that it’s unnecessary,” Harkin says. “Siemens blames the layoffs in large measure on market conditions created by Congress’ failure to extend the wind energy tax credit. This underscores yet again the huge cost in terms of jobs and economic growth of the decision by Congressional Republicans to block essential jobs legislation.”
He says Senate Leader Harry Reid tried to bring the measure up for a vote again on Wednesday, and was denied. “Last evening, Senator Reid asked for consent to move to take up the production tax credit bill and the Republicans objected on the Senate floor,” Harkin says. “So here it is. It’s the Republicans who are stopping us from getting a production tax credit bill through that would save these jobs in Iowa.”
Siemens is cutting 407 jobs in Fort Madison, in addition to 200 more at plants in Florida and Kansas. About 220 jobs will remain at the company’s Iowa plant, one of the largest employers in Lee County. Harkin was asked about the chances of the wind energy credit passing.
“If we can ever get it to the floor, 100%,” Harkin says. “I think we have more than enough votes to pass it, we just can’t get over the filibuster by Republicans to bring it up on the floor. I also think that if we ever get it on the floor, we’ll get more than 60 votes on the final passage on extending the wind energy tax credits.”
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Charles Grassley, blames the failure of the wind tax credit on the Democrat leadership and Democrat President Barack Obama.
The tax credits expire at year’s end and any progress in Congress is being hobbled by partisan bickering prior to the November elections.