Tax. Subsidize. Tax. Train. Tax. Repeat.
For those who followed then-Senator Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency, this economic plan should sound familiar. After months of depressing economic news – 9.1% unemployment, depressed home prices, weak consumer confidence and inflated rising food prices – the bankruptcy and resulting scandal from the government-backed solar company Solyndra provides an illustrative anecdote as to how President Obama’s economic policies work in the real world.
Candidate Obama: As President, I'll invest in renewable energies like wind power, solar power…not through short-term gimmicks...
And boy did he (in both renewable energies AND short-term gimmicks)! The now-infamous stimulus earmarked more than $80 billion toward federal clean energy funding. At the time, he proclaimed the stimulus was “laying the groundwork for a new green energy economy that can create countless well-paying jobs.” The stimulus planners thought they could “double the amount of renewable energy produced over the next three years” by providing “tax credits and loan guarantees” to companies like Solyndra.
The White House praised Solyndra. President Obama said it was “the true engine of economic growth” and Vice President Joe Biden said it was “exactly what the recovery act is all about.” Yet, despite the White House proclamations and more than half a billion in stimulus funding, Solyndra declared bankruptcy earlier this month. So, in this administration’s worldview, the stimulus is really about injecting massive amounts of money into an industry that fails.
Why didn’t the loan guarantees work? Because, like all other subsidies, they divert capital from worthy investment and create a climate of uncertainty in a market weary of future government manipulation. Despite President Jimmy Carter’s massive investment in, and the subsequent failure of, the Synfuels program, the federal government still believes it is capable of picking winners and losers.
Americans understand the government cannot create, by fiat, the jobs of the future. But don’t tell candidate Obama that.
Candidate Obama: Your old job is not coming back, but a new job will be there because we’re going to seriously retrain you and there’s life-long education that’s waiting for you -- the sorts of opportunities that Knox has created with the Strong Futures scholarship program.
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