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.