Obama’s Solyndra Amnesia

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Desperate to distance himself from the embarrassing taxpayer-financed failure that was Solyndra, President Obama recently claimed that Solyndra was “not our program, per se”:

OBAMA CLAIMS SOLYNDRA WAS “NOT OUR PROGRAM, PER SE”: (David Jackson, “Obama: Solyndra ‘Not Our Program, Per Se,’” USA Today, 3/22/2012)

WASHINGTON POST FACT-CHECKER GIVES OBAMA TWO PINOCCHIOS: “While the original law may have set up the loan guarantee program, Solyndra received its loan through an expansion of that program that the administration was quick to take credit for. (The Biden news release mitigates this a bit, but the reference to the 2005 law was not attributed to Biden.)

“We find it hard to believe that any reasonable person could interpret Obama’s remarks this week as anything but a distinct effort to put the blame for Solyndra in some one else’s pocket. The president should accept responsibility, not shirk it.” (Glenn Kessler, “Obama’s Solyndra Shuffle,” The Washington Post, 3/23/2012)

IN FACT, SOLYNDRA RECEIVED $535 MILLION IN STIMULUS MONEY: “In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus, added a new section — 1705 — which offered a more attractive loan package because it did not include credit subsidy fees. Solyndra ended up receiving a $535 million loan under section 1705 — not the original section 1703 program crafted during the Bush administration.” (Glenn Kessler, “Obama’s Solyndra Shuffle,” The Washington Post, 3/23/2012)

POLITICO: “CHU: ENOUGH ABOUT SOLYNDRA ALREADY”: “Energy Secretary Steven Chu has just about had it with House Republican accusations about Solyndra and other clean-energy companies that won billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees. ‘After hundreds of thousands of pages of documents sent over, there's not any whiff that this was a politically influenced decision,’ Chu told reporters Tuesday shortly after wrapping up House committee testimony on the controversial program. ‘That's true of all the loans.’” (Darren Samuelsohn, “Chu: Enough About Solyndra Already,” Politico, 3/20/2012)

Solyndra was one of the Obama administration’s “prime poster children,” from its initial funding under the Democrats’ stimulus down to its final collapse. Newly released e-mails show that the White House was “all-hands-on-deck” as Solyndra’s bankruptcy became imminent:

“DOCUMENTS: WHITE HOUSE WAS ALL-HANDS-ON-DECK AS SOLYNDRA COLLAPSE NEARED”: (Ben Geman and Andrew Restuccia, “Documents: White House Was All-Hands-on-Deck as Solyndra Collapse Neared,” The Hill, 3/23/2012)

“SEVERAL KEY WHITE HOUSE OFFICES WERE INVOLVED” WITH OBAMA ADMIN “MESSAGING PLANS” AS SOLYNDRA BANKRUPTCY WAS IMMINENT: “Several key White House offices were involved with the Obama administration’s messaging plans and other preparations as the collapse of the taxpayer-backed solar company Solyndra was imminent, newly released documents show. … A White House memo that noted the danger of “imminent bankruptcy” at the end of August 2011 says, “OMB, DPC and NEC have been working with press and OLA to be prepared for this news to break.”

“Acronym translation: OMB is the Office of Management and Budget, DPC is the Domestic Policy Council, NEC is the National Economic Council and OLA is the Office of Legal Affairs.” (Ben Geman and Andrew Restuccia, “Documents: White House Was All-Hands-on-Deck as Solyndra Collapse Neared,” The Hill, 3/23/2012)

WHITE HOUSE DISMISSED TALK OF INVITING SOLYNDRA EXECS AS OBAMA’S 2011 SOTU GUEST BECAUSE OF COMPANY’S FINANCIAL TROUBLES: “White House staff knew enough about Solyndra's troubles in January 2011 to dismiss talk of inviting the company's executives into President Barack Obama's special State of the Union box, internal emails released Friday show.” (Darren Samuelsohn, “W.H. on Solyndra: ‘Ugh,’” Politico, 3/16/2012)

RELEASED E-MAILS: WHITE HOUSE REGARDED SOLYNDRA AS “ONE OF THEIR PRIME POSTER CHILDREN”: (Philip Klein, “Emails Show Obama Donor Discussed Solyndra Loan with WH,” The Washington Examiner, 11/9/2011)

Obama and the Democrats’ Solyndra amnesia reflects the Democrats’ central dilemma: they can run on their record, but doing so inevitably draws attention to their policy failures:

OBAMA’S RE-ELECT DEVOTED ITS FIRST AD TO DEFENDING SOLYNDRA: “Don't think Chicago is deeply concerned about the brand damage that the Solyndra semi-scandal can wreak? Of all President Obama's vulnerabilities (Isn't this race supposed to be about the economy?), Team Obama chose to attack Solyndra right out of the gate, placing Obama, literally, in a sea of solar panels, amid quotes proclaiming him to be cleaner than clean -- wallowing in the future.” (Glenn Thrush, “Decoding Obama’s First Ad: S-O-L-Y-N-D-R-A,” Politico, 1/19/2012)

OBAMA DOUBLED DOWN ON GREEN ENERGY IN STATE OF THE UNION: “Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural gas, shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. (Applause.) I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.

“We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising.” (“Remarks by the President in the State of the Union Address,” The White House, 1/24/2012)

DESPITE A RECORD OF FAILURE: “REPORT: ENERGY LOANS COULD COST $3B” FROM “HIGH-RISK” GREEN PROGRAMS: (“Report: Energy Loans Could Cost $3B,” Associated Press, 2/10/2012)

NEW HOUSE OVERSIGHT REPORT: “SIGNIFICANT LOSSES ABSORBED BY TAXPAYERS AS A RESULT OF SOLYNDRA’S COLLAPSE IS JUST THE BEGINNING”: “After conducting a substantial review of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan guarantee program, it is clear that the significant losses absorbed by taxpayers as a result of Solyndra’s collapse is just the beginning. By the expiration of § 1705 program in September 2011, the DOE had approved 27 projects totaling more than $14.5 billion in guaranteed loans.” (“The Energy Department’s Disastrous Management of Loan Guarantee Programs,” House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 3/20/2012)

OBAMA’S “GREEN” PROGRAM “INFUSED WITH POLITICS AT EVERY LEVEL”: “Meant to create jobs and cut reliance on foreign oil, Obama’s green-technology program was infused with politics at every level, The Washington Post found in an analysis of thousands of memos, company records and internal ­e-mails. Political considerations were raised repeatedly by company investors, Energy Department bureaucrats and White House officials.

“The records, some previously unreported, show that when warned that financial disaster might lie ahead, the administration remained steadfast in its support for Solyndra.” (Joe Stephens and Carol D. Leonnig, “Solyndra: Politics Infused Obama Energy Programs,” The Washington Post, 12/25/2011)

CRONY CAPITALISM? WASHINGTON POST AUDIT FINDS $3.9 BILLION IN TAXPAYER MONEY WENT TO “21 COMPANIES WITH CONNECTIONS TO FIVE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION STAFFERS AND ADVISERS”: “During the next three years, the department provided $2.4 billion in public funding to clean-energy companies in which Wagle’s former firm, Vantage Point Venture Partners, had invested, a Washington Post analysis found. Overall, the Post found that $3.9 billion in federal grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers.” (Carol Leonnig and Joe Stephens, “Venture Capitalists Play Key Role in Obama’s Energy Department,” The Washington Post, 2/14/2012)


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