Tad DeHaven

I have previously discussed how multiple levels of government work together to provide businesses with taxpayer money (see here and here). And while Republican policymakers have enjoyed making political hay out of the Obama’s administration’s Solyndra problem, the truth is that both parties are willing partners in the corporate welfare racket.

The state of Indiana continues to be a perfect example. In March 2010, NPR ran a piece on the Obama administration’s efforts to “stimulate” the city of Elkhart, which at one point during the recession had the nation’s highest unemployment rate. The story was hopefully titled, “Electric Vehicles May Energize Elkhart’s Future.” This week, the title of a new NPR piece on Elkhart is a little different: “As Elkhart’s Electric Dreams Fizzle, RVs Come Back.”

The new piece focuses on the failure of Think, an electric vehicle manufacturer, to deliver upon the promises made by the company and the politicians who gave them taxpayer handouts:

Backed by federal stimulus funding, state development grants, and tax credits, Think announced plans to produce thousands of electric cars in Elkhart annually.

Other companies lined up to make electric cars and trucks, and their parts, too, as Elkhart County, a place long known for producing gas-guzzling recreational vehicles, set out to jump-start its flat-lining economy with electric vehicles.

During his State of the State address in 2010, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said, “Our goal is to be the capital of this potentially massive industry of tomorrow.”

But two years later, Elkhart’s electric buzz has gone all but bust. Two local electric startup companies never got off the ground. Navistar is manufacturing short-range electric delivery trucks, but not yet at the level the company had hoped.

And the Think plant has delivered only about 200 electric cars, many of them to government fleets. The parent company, Think Global of Norway, filed for bankruptcy last summer.


Tad DeHaven

Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Previously he was a deputy director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget. DeHaven also worked as a budget policy advisor to Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK).



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