On Aug. 31, while Obama was vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy. On Sept. 8, the day of Obama's "American Jobs Act" speech to a joint session of Congress, FBI agents conducted searches of Solyndra's headquarters and the homes of the firm's CEO and founder. Newspaper accounts speculate that the government may wind up losing the whole $535 million.
The House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee conducted a hearing on Solyndra on Wednesday. Documents have been sought not only by Republicans but also by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, former chairman of the committee.
It's possible the subcommittee will find nefarious goings on at Solyndra. Was the administration's decision to grant a loan guarantee of half a billion dollars influenced by a major campaign contributor? Did the Energy Department disregard obvious caution flags about the company? Did somebody slip somebody a bribe?
But let's assume for the time being that there was no criminal conduct here, no violation of government procedures, no fraud. Let's assume everyone in the administration acted with good faith.
There's still a scandal -- the scandal of the government handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to unproven and speculative businesses. Even the shrewdest venture capitalists lose money on most of their investments. But when they lose, it's their money, not ours.
The scandal is still going on. The Energy Department has been busy handing out more loan guarantees in the past few weeks -- $150 million to 1366 Technologies of Lexington, Mass. (73 percent for Obama in 2008), 80 percent of $344 million to Solar City of San Mateo, Calif. (72 percent for Obama in 2008). Will one of them be the next Solyndra?
The real scandal is the "green jobs" loan guarantee program itself. And the ones getting scammed are American taxpayers.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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