Donald Lambro

Evergreen Solar Inc. filed for bankruptcy last month after being forced to close its plant in Massachusetts, built with state and local government subsidies.

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., says the loan guarantee program "has not worked as well as we had hoped."

That sounds like a Wall Street investment banker defending a fat bundle of subprime real estate securities that went bad.

The solar panel industry is not the only "investment" Obama has sunk a lot of our money into. While the plants his loans built make for great campaign photo-ops, the costly reality is that government is trying to pick the winners and losers in our economy instead of letting the private sector do it.

But Obama thinks he's good at this investment business, and now he is trying to convince us to buy into a new federal "infrastructure bank" that will make off-budget grants and loans to rebuild roads, bridges and ports, and broadband lines and smart grids, with $30 billion of our money.

The bank would put "all those (unemployed) construction workers" back to work, he said. And it would provide Obama with lots of photo-ops at job sites, where he can say, "Look what I've done for you."

If this sounds familiar, it was sold to us in the guise of the 2009 job stimulus bill that was supposed to put the construction industry back to work.

Some short-term jobs were created, but when the building projects were completed, the jobs ended. The construction industry today is in a recession.

Making Obama the Investor-in-Chief, deciding how and where the nation's capital resources should be spent, hasn't worked and isn't going to work.

Ask Japan, which has gone on a public works spending binge but whose economy has been in a slump for two decades.

Better to shift federal public works spending decisions to the states, along with the gas-tax highway money, and let them -- not remote federal bureaucrats -- set their own priorities. Broaden the tax base by eliminating dozens of loopholes, then cut business and individual tax rates, and slash the capital gains tax to unlock job-creating investment capital.

Let the marketplace make the investment decisions that have made America the largest and most successful economy in the world. Obama has got better things to do with his time, like trying to figure out why his job approval polls have fallen to 39 percent.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.