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That's right Mr. President, keep loaning the money, everything is going GREAT!  (Source: Getty Images)
President says high-risk loan was "felt like... a good bet"

(This article contains editorial commentary, which is the opinion of the author.)

President Barack Obama has endured scathing criticism in recent weeks for loaning $535M USD to failed solar startup Solyndra.  The loan came as part of a $40B USD "green" technology stimulus effort.  But on September 1, 2011 Solyndra filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving its 1,000+ employees looking for work and leaving the government staring at an un-recoupable loss.

I. Interview: Obama says "No" regrets on wasting $500M USD

In recent weeks Republicans have lashed out at President Obama for the lost money.  They argue it's indicative of the President's overall budget incompetence.  They've launched a probe into the loan and the Department of Energy's overall loan infrastructure.  States Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a member of the House Energy panel’s investigative subcommittee, "We need to hear from Secretary Chu and [White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack] Lew to fill in some of the blanks.  The buck has to stop someplace, and presumably it stops with the heads of those agencies."

But the POTUS is holding his ground.  In an interview on ABC News' "Good Morning America", also broadcast online on Yahoo! News Monday, anchor George Stephanopoulos asked President Obama if he regretted the 2009 loan guarantees .  He replies, "No I don't.  Because if you look at the overall portfolio of loan guarantees that had been provided, overall it’s doing well. And what we always understood is that not every single business is going to succeed in clean energy."

President Obama's administration is accused of rushing the loan guarantee in order to allow it to be announced at the September 2009 groundbreaking of the company's new factory.  By February the loan was already under investigation.  Still, the President stood firmly behind Solyndra, visiting their California headquarters in early 2010 and touting them as a green energy "leader".

Some emails that have been released indicate some administration members had expressed concerns about the company's financial health -- concerns that were ultimately overruled.

Obama implied America has to get more China-like when it comes to loans, in order to compete with the Asian rival.  He states. "If we want to compete with China, which is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars in this space, if we want to compete with other countries that are heavily subsidizing industries of the future, we have got to make sure that our guys, here in the United States of America, at least have a shot."

II. Editorial: Business as Usual in Washington, D.C.

To be fair, as bad as the Solyndra loss looks, the previous Bush administration spent many times that essentially paying off the losses of the American International Group (AIG), which it built up from taking on risky investments pre-recession.  AIG received over $127B USD [source] and sent over $100B USD overseas to banks it owed money to.

Thus perhaps the Solyndra debacle is more of a testament to how things are run in Washington no matter which party is in charge, rather than a sign that President Obama is somehow exceptional or different, for better or worse.  Both parties talk about balancing the budget, but it's a matter of public record that in recent years both parties have overspent, committing to risky investments and troubled assets.

That's not to say what the Obama administration did here was right by conservative fiscal standards.  As the old saying goes, two wrongs don't make a right.  But if there's someone who offers an alternative to this kind of spending they're likely not in Washington, D.C. -- or at least likely not very popular there among either party.

These kinds of wastes are particularly sad, as they come at a time when proud American science projects are being shuttered due of lack of funds.  America recently closed the world's second largest particle accelerator, because the government claimed it couldn't find $100M USD out of the $3.4T USD budget to pay for the accelerator's annual operating costs.  The AIG funding could have paid for over 1,000 years of operation.  The Solyndra funds could have extended the life of the accelerator 5 years.

One thing's for sure when it comes to Solyndra, though -- President Obama isn't going to say sorry for what happened.

Source: ABC News

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RE: At least he's honest for once...
By Targon on 10/4/2011 1:04:44 PM , Rating: 0
In many ways, everything the government does is a gamble. The military budget is a gamble that we need to spend all that money on bases all around the world, or the money that gets spent on things like CONTRACTORS, who cost far more per person than if the government just hired these people directly.

This is the problem across the board, people look at the money being spent, but really, people should be demanding that government stop overspending for what is gotten. Does a basic file clerk really deserve $80,000/year plus a pension? How about all of these government aides, do we really need to have them paid by the government when the elected officials are already getting paid a lot of money to do much of that work themselves?

Stop complaining about investments that did not pay off when the government spends more for the same thing than the private sector.

RE: At least he's honest for once...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/4/11, Rating: 0
By lelias2k on 10/5/2011 5:26:52 AM , Rating: 2
It is also the government's duty to provide education and health services, but look where we are.

securing our borders and protecting our citizens

Yeah, that's the kool aid they all tell you to drink so they can keep pouring trillions into "defense."

As for the investment, my opinion is that the government should invest in technologies of the future, especially when the rest of the world is kicking our asses when it comes to those technologies.

RE: At least he's honest for once...
By Natch on 10/5/2011 1:43:09 PM , Rating: 2
I was wondering if you could please tell me where this occurs?

Does a basic file clerk really deserve $80,000/year plus a pension?

I just checked the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM's) page on the present-day GS pay scales, and a GS-04 (which would be your "basic file clerk" is NOT making $80,000 a year.

In fact, in most places, they start out at $30,000 a year, and after ~20 years of service , have skyrocketed all the way up to (are you ready for this?) $40,000 a year!! The highest GS scale I saw was for the San Francisco Bay area (Nancy Pelosi country), where they go from $33K to $43K in range.

Yeah...believe it or not, but the whole "government employees make too much money" is nothing more than a BS political talking point. OPM has set the value of a government employee's benefits as ~29% of their salary, so even multiplying that GS-04's salary by 1.293, they're only coming in at $42,669 to $55,599 in value. So unless you can somehow tell us where the other $25,000 to $35,000 in imaginary wages are coming from, I'd have to say your point was a bit of an exageration.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki

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