In early September, President Obama finally unveiled his jobs plan: a new $447 “stimulus” package. The President exhorted Congress to “Pass this bill!” but Americans aren’t ready for another round of “stimulus” – we’re still trying to recover from the consequences of the last one, which cost nearly twice as much.
In 2009, President Obama rushed the stimulus bill through Congress without even allowing the time for debate or the appropriate safeguards to be built. The original Obama stimulus plan was nothing but a lesson in how to waste almost a trillion dollars in taxpayer funds. President Obama’s liberal ideology tells him he’s smarter than the free market system, the system that’s made America the greatest economic superpower the world has ever known. Allowing the federal government to decide where taxpayer money is sent to “stimulate” certain sectors of the economy simply creates new opportunities for waste and abuse, like we’ve seen in the case of the recently bankrupt solar power company Solyndra.
Solyndra was one of the first “green” companies to be awarded a $527 million taxpayer-guaranteed loan via President Obama’s last “stimulus” plan. The California based company was supposed to be the success model for President Obama’s clean energy jobs program, but instead its failure left 1,100 people unemployed and taxpayers on the hook for a half billion dollars.
What’s worse is that one of the President’s major campaign contributors – George Kaiser – was Solyndra’s biggest shareholder. The loan to Solyndra was specially structured to benefit investors like Kaiser in the event of bankruptcy, at the expense of the taxpayers. Records indicate that Mr. Kaiser and other Solyndra officials frequented the White House to meet with senior Obama officials, such as former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and top staffer Valerie Jarrett.
Kaiser even greased the wheels to gain favor with the Obama Administration by donating $10,000 to the Urban Health Initiative, a program Michelle Obama helped to create at the University of Chicago Medical Center, in the same year Solyndra sought and received the loan. Conveniently enough, Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s top political advisor David Axelrod, and Obama’s very good friend Eric Whitaker also worked with the Urban Heath Initiative.
Using taxpayer funds to reward contributors is an outrage and it’s becoming more and more evident that this is a Chicago-style pay-to-play operation that reaches to the highest levels of the White House. The American people deserve answers from the Obama Administration. What did President Obama and his cronies know and when did they know it?
Over the weekend, the L.A. Times reported that at an October 2010 White House meeting Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council advisor Lawrence Summers warned that the vetting process for the loans wasn’t rigorous enough. Their concerns were well founded as the Solyndra loan had already been rushed through approval for a political photo op – just in time for Vice President Joe Biden to announce the government’s support of the program at the ground breaking ceremony of a new Solyndra plant in 2009. Rushing taxpayer funded loans out the door in an attempt to prove your economic plan isn’t a failure is irresponsible and incompetent.
Solyndra is a scandal that will be with the Obama White House throughout the 2012 election cycle, because it demonstrates why his $787 billion stimulus was a total waste of taxpayer money. The American people deserve to know the facts of this case. On Friday the House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on Solyndra but the CEO and CFO of the company stonewalled by invoking the Fifth Amendment 20 times. What are they refusing to tell Congress about that could be so incriminating?
The half a billion dollar loan to Solyndra is just a fraction of the whole stimulus-funded $38.6 billion green jobs loan program, which was bad policy from the start. Some “clean” energy companies even turned down loans after applying because the terms were too inflexible for the startups to make the necessary changes and improvements to keep their products competitive in a new and fast-changing market. This one-size-fits-all approach is typical of government programs and shows why the government should not be picking winners and losers. These decisions should be left to the free market, where bad business models can fail on their own, without taxpayers left holding the bag.
With massive failures like these, American cannot afford another “stimulus.” This time we have to tell our representatives, “Pass on this bill!”