REALITY CHECK: Obama's Strategic Energy Investments Like Solyndra Have Resulted in Bankruptcies & Layoffs

June 1, 2012

It was two years ago this week, on May 26, 2010, that President Obama famously declared, “The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra” during a visit to the doomed solar company’s Fremont, California headquarters. Fast forward two years and Nancy Pelosi, White House spokesman Jay Carney, and others this week are struggling to defend the indefensible - President Obama’s disastrous stimulus investments in failed companies like Solyndra. Right up until its bankruptcy, Solyndra was a darling of the Obama administration, oft touted as a stimulus success story. Yet, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation into Solyndra has revealed the president’s and the administration’s words did not reflect the reality behind the scenes, as officials were furiously scrambling to keep the flagship loan guarantee recipient afloat.

An examination of the president’s energy related stimulus investments reveals hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars were carelessly squandered in picking losers like Solyndra, Beacon Power, and Ener1.

Responding to the administration’s recent rigorous defense of Solyndra and other risky investments, Rep. Cliff Stearns, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, stated, “The president is not picking winners and losers, just losers like Solyndra. As we have said all along, Congress must learn the lessons of Solyndra to ensure taxpayers are never again left holding the bag, and our investigation into the half billion dollar bust continues. It has been seven months since we issued our subpoenas for Solyndra documents, but the self-proclaimed ‘most transparent administration in history’ has been less than forthcoming. We remain in negotiations with the White House to gather documents that Obama’s lawyers have admitted they are withholding but have not yet exerted executive privilege. When it come to the remaining Solyndra docs in question, as the White House’s much publicized slogan says, ‘we can’t wait.’ The American public deserves answers now, not hollow excuses.”

In the case of Solyndra, despite repeated warnings, President Obama went ahead and dumped a half billion dollars into the solar company.  According to OMB and DOE experts, Solyndra was a sure bet… at failure, offering warnings in 2009 that the loan guarantee was “not ready for prime time” and Solyndra’s “model runs out of cash in September 2011.” 

In April of 2012, the Department of Treasury Inspector General released a report, “Consultation on Solyndra Loan Guarantee Was Rushed,” that revealed DOE had cut out the Treasury Department from dealings on Solyndra, ignoring the agency’s advice and limiting its opportunity to review the high-price, high-risk financing. The independent Treasury watchdog reported that the agency was given just one day to complete work as the administration rushed to send a press release announcing the conditional “strategic investment” in Solyndra.

Despite the repeated warnings that Solyndra was doomed for failure, the Obama administration went ahead in backing the solar company, cutting corners in the process, and rushed the loan guarantee out the door. 

Obama administration’s risky investments - a record of broken promises.

Without creating the jobs as promised, Obama’s green stimulus crusade has actually cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in failed gambles.

The Obama Department of Energy’s risky investments have been littered with failure:

Solyndra - The solar manufacturer received a $535 million DOE stimulus loan guarantee - BANKRUPT

Beacon Power - The solar company received a $43 million DOE stimulus loan guarantee - BANKRUPT

Ener1 - The battery maker, #67 on the White House list of 100 Projects that are Changing America, received a $118.5 million stimulus grant - BANKRUPT

A123 - The battery maker received a $249 million DOE stimulus grant - LAYOFFS

Fisker Automotive - The electric vehicle manufacturer received a $529 million DOE ATVM stimulus loan - LAYOFFS

The Obama administration’s record speaks for itself. American taxpayers are already on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars - what will be the next risky strategic investment to fail?

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