ABC News Fact Check: Did the Stimulus Ship Jobs to China?

ABC News conducts an investigation into claims from both parties.

ByABC News
October 27, 2010, 5:37 PM

Oct. 27, 2010 -- In dozens of key races around the country this election cycle, Republicans are hammering Democratic incumbents with this message: Billions of dollars were spent to create jobs in China.

"Is Baron Hill running for Congress in Indiana or China?" asks one typical ad being run by the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC). "Baron Hill supported the $800 billion failed stimulus package that created renewable energy jobs in China."

Another ad says West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall's stimulus vote "helped foreign companies create Chinese jobs making windmills."

The NRCC is running variations of that ad against 30 Democrats who voted for the stimulus, accusing them of spending tax dollars to create jobs in China.

Is it true? There's a grain of truth to it, but the charge is misleading. Out of the 33,000 wind turbines in use in America today, ABC News could find only three that were made in China with stimulus dollars. They cost less than $2.5 million -- less than .000031 percent of the $814 billion stimulus program.

The allegation in the ad is based in part on a joint ABC News/Investigative Reporting Workshop investigation from February that found as much as 79 percent of stimulus money allotted for wind energy had gone to foreign developers, but most of those companies were in Europe, not China, and some of them manufacture their wind turbines in the United States. By last month, the percentage of wind energy stimulus funds that went to foreign firms fell to 54 percent, according to the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

Our report also cited a joint U.S./Chinese venture in Texas that may get up to $450 million in stimulus funding. But that project has not yet received a dime of stimulus money.

Democrats play the China game too. Several Democratic ads, for example, accuse Republican candidates of pledging tax breaks to companies that ship jobs to China.