It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for green jobs. Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturing company much ballyhooed by the Obama administration, declared bankruptcy. The company had received $535 million in September 2009 from a Department of Energy grant program funded by the stimulus. Supposedly, the grant would create 4,000 jobs—at a bargain basement cost to taxpayers of $133,750 per job.
OBAMA AT SOLYNDRA IN 2010
At the time the grant was issued, Joe Biden proclaimed that the investment in Solyndra is “exactly what the Recovery Act is all about.” In hindsight, The Scrapbook agrees with the vice president wholeheartedly.
As if the White House didn’t have enough rhetorical egg on its face, Obama himself gave a speech at Solyndra in 2010 in which he declared, “You’re demonstrating that the promise of clean energy isn’t just an article of faith. . . . It’s happening right now. The future is here.”
The truth is that “green jobs” is a 21st-century euphemism for a more familiar term—crony capitalism. It’s probably not surprising to learn that one of Solyndra’s key investors, Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, was an Obama campaign “bundler” raising between $50,000 and $100,000 for the president’s 2008 race; Kaiser himself, along with Solyndra executives and board members, donated another $87,050.
Not surprisingly, that kind of campaign cash will get you preferential treatment. House Energy Committee chairman Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, recently sent a letter to the White House that read, “We have learned from our investigation that White House officials monitored Solyndra’s application and communicated with [Energy] and Office of Management and Budget officials during the course of their review.” Upton is promising to investigate the question of improper influence thoroughly.