The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Solar Kickbacks of Barack Obama


Obama is continuing to scoff at those who disagree with his energy policies:

“Some politicians . . . dismiss the promise of solar power and wind power and fuel-efficient cars,” Obama said. “They make jokes about it. One member of Congress who shall remain unnamed called these jobs ‘phony.’ If these people were around when Columbus set sail, they would’ve been founding members of the Flat Earth Society.”

Actually, nobody doubts that solar power has its uses. Solar-powered watches and calculators have been around for decades. Of course, because the gadgets they power have small energy needs, the small row of photovoltaic panels is a cost-efficient way to power the device. Powering houses and businesses and office buildings and factories and cars is a different and more difficult challenge, for several reasons — e.g., generating power on a large enough scale, the durability of the panels, what to do in areas with insufficient or irregular sunlight, and so on.

What Obama’s critics really doubt is whether the federal government should be allocating millions and billions to companies that may or may not be able to create a product at a competitive price. Solyndra received a $535 million loan guarantee because the Obama administration and the Department of Energy believed in their product — but it ultimately proved that it couldn’t compete with Chinese manufacturers who made comparable products at lower prices.

The public later found out that one of Solyndra’s top investors was a leading fundraiser for Obama in 2008, and that the Department of Energy official overseeing the program was also a top Obama fundraiser from 2008. Of course, everyone involved insists there was no quid pro quo, but we have executives and investors giving large donations to Obama’s campaigns, and then the Obama administration turning around and giving loan guarantees to those executives’ and investors’ companies — companies that had difficulty overcoming the doubts of private investors. All of this turned out pretty well for everyone except the taxpayer. Solyndra’s still handing out bonuses to employees after filing for bankruptcy.

After years of howling about Halliburton and no-bid contracts, our friends in the Democratic party have suddenly found a circumstance of wealthy company executives and investors donating to politicians and politicians turning around and handing taxpayer money to entities run by those executives and investors, and concluded the circumstance doesn’t bother them in the slightest.

If you don’t think that’s a double standard, you probably believe in a flat earth, too.

Tags: Barack Obama , Solyndra


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