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Solyndra Spells Trouble For Obama's Jobs Plan

The Obama administration is in hot water while Congress investigates the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra, a major recipient of federal stimulus loans. Whether or not the federal investigation into Solyndra uncovers a serious scandal, the situation smells a little, well, organic.

A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began, government records show.

The program — designed to jump-start the nation’s clean technology industry by giving energy companies access to low-cost, government-backed loans — has directly created 3,545 new, permanent jobs after giving out almost half the allocated amount, according to Energy Department tallies.

The trouble with Solyndra has fueled the debate over the green jobs program:

The fight is likely to continue through Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, as green energy has been a major part of Obama’s domestic policy agenda and the loan guarantee to Solyndra — which shut down its manufacturing facilities and laid off 1,100 workers in filing for bankruptcy — was intended as economic stimulus.

Republicans argue that the Obama administration’s push to create “green jobs” blinded officials to a series of red flags that hinted at Solyndra’s financial troubles.

Some writers are suggesting Solyndra – and the growing troubles of the green jobs program – could prove to be a gamechanger in 2012. At best it shows that government is lousy at making investment decisions with taxpayer money. At worst it destructively undercuts the administration’s narrative on the economy: instead of targeted stimulus wisely creating high wage, stable, green jobs, we have wasteful spending, a failed green job initiative, and poorly concealed favoritism toward campaign contributors.

And don’t forget that Solyndra’s collapse leaves taxpayers on the hook for up to $535 million.

This is a story the administration needs to get out of the papers; that won’t happen as long as allegations of favoritism and political interference linger in the air.

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  • stephen b

    Finally…a scandal with legs. Fast and Furious, no good. No Black Panther prosecution, no good. No prosecution of federal drug laws, no good. No prosecution of federal immigration laws, no good. But, money, power and political favoritism are something media can get their arms around.

  • Mogden

    Obama’s only consolation is that nobody could possibly have known that this would happen.

  • Peter

    “Some writers are suggesting Solyndra – and the growing troubles of the green jobs program – could prove to be a gamechanger in 2012.”

    How clueless. The game for 2012 has changed long ago — about in November 2010.

  • Randy

    Dr. M,

    Something else to keep an eye on: Obama’s Chief of Staff Bill Daley appears to be a Hamiltonian. Daley was key to scuttling the EPA’s plans to regulate ozone. Then there’s another non-surprise, surprise: today the EPA announced a delay in laying out its greenhouse gas regulations. Look for Keystone XL to be approved later this year (probably announced on a Friday in December during the holidays when nobody will be paying attention) and the GHG regulations to be delayed until, oh, November 2012.

  • Toni

    Ah, the sanitizing effect of sunlight! A House investigative committee is doing its darndest to drag all the hidden Obama Administration green-jobs dealings into the sunlight.

    That the administration isn’t producing subpoenaed documents promptly suggests that they reflect poorly on its judgment. Making Congressional investigators fight for them ensures a drip-drip-drip effect which will only keep the scandal in the news longer. Already the appetite of investigative journalists is well and truly whetted.

    And 2012 is but a few months away.

  • Jordan

    Being a venture capitalist is hard. Only the top of the top become VCs. And they lose plenty of money on many ventures, and make money on only a few. And these folks are experienced in their respective fields and have been doing it for a long time. Take for example the folks at Kleiner Perkins.

    So it’s hilarious when the gov’t thinks it can be a good VC. Seriously?

    Why is it that Obama thinks just because he was elected he’s suddenly knowledgeable and experienced in all sorts of areas (VC, high speed rail)? What is it about presidents that makes them believe they are suddenly the most competent, infallible business person in the country? Politicians — especially career politicians — who, like Obama, left college and almost immediately went into politics is actually experienced at nothing. There is a whole class of people that think, just because they are in “public policy”, means they are actually competent in producing public policy. Go work for a lifetime in that field, them come talk to me.

    Here’s the other kicker: In the US, there’s PLENTY of capital available for new ventures. That’s, of course, what makes the US so great. If Solyndra was truly a great opportunity, they would have no trouble raising the funds from either VCs or other companies (e.g. GE). So the fact that the US gov’t thinks they need to get involved with technology venture capital is just silly.

  • Fred

    What? Government spending is wasteful, inefficient, politically motivated, and borderline corrupt? I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

  • standfast24

    Obama and Dems only know how to spin, they can’t get out of the way of Solyndra and can only hope that the MSM will minimize this.
    Last 3 years have been an orgy of special interest spending and crony capitalism – I suspect this will be the first of many.
    I think the game changer here is the risk posed to the permanent bureaucracy by Republicans in Congress and many career government employees who don’t want to take the fall for Obama political appointees.
    Expect a steady stream of emails for career people who said “i told you this could happen”. Expect Steven Chu or others to be thrown under the bus at some point.

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