"Per se." This president of ours is having himself quite a day, isn't he? In addition to his shameless Keystone ploy, he's also trying to distance his administration from one of its most glaring, high-profile failures. From a Marketplace interview:
Interviewer: With all respect, it was kind of a gutsy move I think to come to a solar facility. Your administration has staked a lot on clean technology, green jobs. The biggest item most people know about that strategy is, of course, a company named Solyndra, which your administration gave loan guarantees to, that then went bankrupt and has been the subject of many investigations. Are you doing your "all of the above" strategy right if that's what we have to show for it -- Solyndra?
Obama: We are doing the "all of the above" strategy right. Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn't gone bankrupt. Part of the reason they did was because the Chinese were subsidizing their solar industry and flooding the market in ways that Solyndra couldn't compete. But understand: This was not our program, per se. Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries, it's easy to raise money for startups, but if you want to take them to scale, oftentimes there's a lot of risk involved, and what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to help start up companies get to scale. And the understanding is is that some companies are not going to succeed, some companies will do very well -- but the portfolio as a whole ends up supporting the kind of innovation that helps make America successful in this innovative 21st century economy.
Do I wish that Solyndra had gone bankrupt? Absolutely not. And obviously it's heartbreaking what happened to the workers who were there. When you look at the overall portfolio, is it right for us to make sure that we're not just cashing in our chips and letting the Chinese or the Germans develop the technologies that we know are going to be critical in the future? I'm proud to say that we're going to continue to support it.
Where to begin? (1) Obama says Solyndra couldn't compete because of its heavily subsidized Chinese competitors. Does the president believe we can win a government subsidization war with the Chinese? Is out-spending China a viable path forward? Does he recall that our gross national debt has eclipsed 100 percent of GDP, and that China is already our biggest foreign creditor?
(2) It is true that "Republicans and Democrats" approved a green energy loan guarantee program. But "Republicans and Democrats" did not approve this loan guarantee program. As FactCheck.org reminds us, the program under which Solyndra was handed $500 million in taxpayer money was authorized in the Obama/Reid/Pelosi partisan "stimulus" bill of 2009. Zero House Republicans voted for that law. Also, a previous Solyndra loan application was explicitly rejected by Bush-era actuaries because of its inherent soundness problems. Some of Obama's bookkeepers continued to warn against its approval, but they were overruled by the White House political team because the president's allies were determined to make the company the "poster child" of his green vision. That's also why Obama ignored internal worries and held a big presidential photo-op at Solyndra's (now-defunct) factory. The list goes on: Obama DOE officials sat in on Solyndra board meetings. One of Solyndra's top investors, George Kaiser -- who just happened to be a major Obama campaign donor -- also just happened to make a flurry of White House visits right before the doomed loan was given the thumbs-up. Kaiser and the White House claimed they didn't discuss Solyndra during those meetings. They lied. We also know that even after Solyndra defaulted on its initial loan, Obama's Energy Department conveniently restructured the loan terms, assuring that investors like George Kaiser would be first in line to get paid if (when) the company went belly-up. Obama owns this mess, and he knows it. But he's obfuscating and dissembling to save his own skin.
(3) Obama professes to be heartbroken over the fate of the 1,100 Solyndra employees who were laid off when the fantasy finally burst. He was not heartbroken enough, though, to speak up against the bonuses Solyndra executives -- people who were complicit in the collapse -- were paid after the jig was up. Nor was he heartbroken enough to tell those workers (and Congress) the truth as soon Solyndra's fate became undeniably clear. No, his administration pressured Solyndra brass to deliberately delay their bad news until after the 2010 elections, at which point hundreds of workers were unceremoniously dumped. And maybe he could have avoided all of this heartache by nipping this horrendous plan in the bud when he was personally briefed about its risks at the beginning. Here's one more interesting exchange from today's interview:
Interviewer: You said when you campaigning in 2008 that you were going to spend $150 billion on green tech and clean energy and create five million clean energy jobs. You didn't get there.
Obama: Well we haven't gotten there partly because this thing interceded called the Great Recession; we had the worst financial crisis and the biggest drop in employment, and the housing market, obviously the bottom fell out of it. And so we've spent a lot of time digging our way out of that hole.
Um, the meltdown that caused the Great Recession happened during that campaign. In fact, it helped Obama win. The creation of millions of "green jobs" was part of Obama's campaign pitch to voters. In 2008 he said, "elect me and I'll do x, y, and z to get us out of this mess." Now that x, y, and z have failed to accomplish the very goals he set forth ("five million green jobs!"), he's trying to blame the mess. That's not how it works, Mr. President.
UPDATE - Both ways:
Instead of a Government-Guaranteed Income, How About a Plan to End the Washington Welfare State? | Daniel J. Mitchell