Is there something about the word ‘green’ that makes people go weak in the head?Rivaled only by the ‘get tough on Netanyahu’ fiasco and the Gunwalker scandal, the ‘Green Jobs’ meltdown is the most comprehensive and conspicuous policy failure of the Obama administration to date. What three months ago was widely hailed by the establishment press as a sign of the futurism and forward-thinking of the Obama Administration now, post-Solyndra, is increasingly seen for the bone headed blunder it was. The Washington Post piles on with a report on congressional hearings concerning the Energy Department:
In several of his investigations, Friedman has noted that the political push to quickly create jobs and spur economic development didn’t match up with economic realities on the ground. And while he credits the department for making significant progress in distributing the federal aid, 45 percent of stimulus dollars distributed by Energy still hadn’t been spent by state and local government as of Oct. 22.In his testimony, Friedman notes that the department failed to properly document and couldn’t always demonstrate how it resolved or mitigated risks prior to granting loan guarantees. Critics have said that such steps might have prevented the Solyndra scandal[…]Friedman is also critical of the administration for touting the existence of “shovel ready” projects that needed federal funding in order to be quickly completed. From the start, administration critics were skeptical that enough such projects existed to spur the economy.
A lot of money was spent; precious few jobs were created and the failure damages the Obama brand in three distinct ways. First, poor jobs growth is the root of all the administration’s other woes. Second, the story undercuts the idea that the stimulus was a good idea and supports the narrative that special interests hijacked it for a porkfest. Third and most deeply, the story reinforces the belief that government planning and industrial policy don’t work.The administration needs to come to grips with this policy failure; when something isn’t working it is time to change course.