September 19 2011
Sunshine And Solyndra
The Enron scandal was life-changing for those who lost their jobs or investments. I'm glad to say that I didn't lose a penny in Enron. I wish I could say the same for the Solyndra, the president's pet green project that is so in the red that the FBI raided the office, possibly to ensure that none of the redder goes in the shredder.
We all lost money in Solyndra-yes, the individual taxpayer's burden for the half billion "loan" to Solyndra is small. But it adds up: if you throw in the cost of the stimulus package, we, as individuals, are on the hook for quite a bit of money.
It would be very upsetting to learn that we lost this money in an arrangement that wasn't even legal. That is what former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy is charging has a column in which he says that, in addition to costing us money, Solyndra may have been a criminal fraud:
The Solyndra debacle is not just Obama-style crony socialism as usual. It is a criminal fraud. That is the theory that would be guiding any competent prosecutor's office in the investigation of a scheme that cost victims - in this case, American taxpayers - a fortune. ...
Homing in on one of the several shocking aspects of the Solyndra scandal, lawmakers noted that, a few months before the "clean energy" enterprise went belly-up last week, the Obama Energy Department signed off on a sweetheart deal. In the event of bankruptcy - the destination to which it was screamingly obvious Solyndra was headed despite the president's injection of $535 million in federal loans - the cozily connected private investors would be given priority over American taxpayers. In other words, when the busted company's assets were sold off, Obama pals would recoup some of their losses, while you would be left holding the half-billion-dollar bag.
As Andrew Stiles reported here at NRO, Republicans on the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee say this arrangement ran afoul of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This law - compassionate conservatism in green bunting - is a monstrosity, under which Leviathan, which can't run a post office, uses your money to pick winners and losers in the economy's energy sector. The idea is cockamamie, but Congress did at least write in a mandate that taxpayers who fund these "investments" must be prioritized over other stakeholders. The idea is to prevent cronies from pushing ahead of the public if things go awry - as they are wont to do when pols fancy themselves venture capitalists....
For a while after Solyndra tanked, the administration stonewalled the House subcommittee's investigation, but we now know that minions in the Energy Department and the Office of Management and Budget had enormous qualms about the Solyndra loan. They realized that the company was hemorrhaging money and, even with the loan, would lack the necessary working capital to turn that equation around. Yet they caved under White House pressure to sign off in time for Vice President Joe Biden to make a ballyhooed announcement of the loan in September 2009. An OMB e-mail laments that the timing of the loan approval was driven by the politics of the announcement "rather than the other way around."
The McCarthy piece is complicated but clear. It is well worth a read.
You also won't want to miss the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti's take on Solyndra:
To find a metaphor for the failed Obama presidency, look no further than Solyndra. Before it went bankrupt, the solar panel manufacturer was more than the recipient of a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government. It was the model for the White House effort to put the American economy on a "new foundation."
Somebody on TV (I was reading and didn't stop to jot down the name of the speaker) said that the Solyndra deal was rushed ahead, despite warning signals, because the president wanted to use it in a speech.
Wouldn't it just be incredibly typical if President Talk had gotten into this big, expensive, possibly criminal mess just because he wanted to give a speech?