SUA Staff – Another ‘green project’ is laying off workers. No, not Solyndra, this time its Colorado based Abound Solar. $400 million in guaranteed loans to another boondoggle. The company is offering many excuses, but like Solyndra, it appears its original technology is not cutting it. They claim they need to “perfect the process”. Is that code for, ‘it just is not working’?
ABOUND SOLAR: Colorado’s Solyndra, Obama’s Latest Green Energy Headache
The Daily Camera is reporting that Abound Solar is laying off 70% of its workforce, or 280 jobs, in Colorado after receiving a $400 million taxpayer-backed loan from Barack Obama’s Energy Department. News of the layoffs was first reported by the Longmont Times-Call.
Abound Solar on Tuesday cut 280 jobs — 70 percent of the workers — at the company’s production facility along the Interstate 25 Frontage Road near Firestone.The company notified the workers, which had been running three shifts around the clock, on Tuesday, according to chief financial officer Steve Abely. The cuts affected 180 full-time workers and 100 temporary workers Abound had hired.
Just 18 months ago Obama promised that the loan would help create “1,500 permanent jobs” between Abound’s two plants in Colorado and Indiana. Obama’s “permanent jobs” is beginning to seem a lot like his “shovel-ready jobs,” as in a complete farce.
See video of Obama promising “1,500 permanent jobs” on July 2, 2010 here:
Complete Colorado’s Todd Shepherd and the Independence Institute’s Amy Oliver have been covering the flawed fantasy and crony capitalism of green energy economics in Colorado for some time now, and Abound’s collapse gives great credence to their work.
See Todd Shepherd’s editorial in 2011 calling for public access to Abound’s $400 million loan here.
Why was Abound able to get such a sweet, taxpayer-backed loan? Two words: Pat Stryker. Todd Shepherd outlines the crony capitalist connections between billionaire Democrat activist heiress Pat Stryker, former Democrat Congresswoman Betsy Markey and the Obama administration’s loan programhere.
With Abound’s failure, it is high time the left stop foisting their fantasy economics on American taxpayers. Much like another green substance favored by Boulder voters, when green energy’s feet is put to the economic fire it goes up in smoke.
Everybody loves the idea of the wind and sun powering their homes and fueling their cars. The problem is, the technology and economics just aren’t there right now. You can’t force that to work, no matter how much good government money you toss after the bad. That’s how the market works, whether the left accepts reality or not.
Fortunately for Coloradans, some leaders in this state had the good sense to realize that.
In 2011 Weld County extended $98,445 in personal property tax incentives to the solar module manufacturer, but when it came up for renewal in December for the 2012 budget, commissioners decided to save the taxpayers that money instead. Commissioner Sean Conway explained he wasn’t convinced that Abound actually was creating jobs for county residents, which was the intended purpose of tax incentives.
With Governor Hickenlooper running ads in support of fracking on behalf of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and now Abound’s failure, it is sure a tough week to be a greenie.
Maybe the government should take some of that wasted Energy Department loan money and put it towards college courses in economics for its loan staff.
Because the Obama administration is failing loan approval in a spectacular fashion.
Editor’s Note – Day in and day out, the Solyndra scandal just gets “curiouser and curiouser” as Alice in Wonderland calls this type of thing. Its a ‘pay-to-play’ scandal and its not the only one, or the only type of cozy relationships that garner favorable goodies. As SUA reported earlier, one look at the list we posted of the monthly statement of the Federal Finance Bank, will send you into a who’s who of the Democrat Party supporters, or ‘bundlers’, relationships between corporations, and reaping the benefits of the crony capitalism system or better said, scam. You ‘bundle’ for Obama or Pelosi, you get federal loan guarantees and more. Let’s look at a few more curious deals, then read the article below:
Colorado also features an Obama bundler whose direct investments included a solar company that received $400 million in loan guarantees from an enthusiastic and willing Obama administration.
Obama supporter Pat Stryker, who bundled $87,500 for the president in 2008, is a major investor in Abound Solar, a company that was awarded a $400 million stimulus loan. Obama even bragged about his support for the company in a July 2010 Weekly Address.
The Department of Energy on Friday hit a congressionally mandated deadline to close billions of dollars in loan guarantees, at the last minute finalizing at least $4.1 billion in loan guarantees for four solar-related projects.
“Deployment of utility-scale solar power will help bring down the cost of solar and strengthen our position as a global clean energy leader,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Among the largest of the newly closed loan guarantees, DOE finalized two worth about $1.8 billion to Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar for solar photovoltaic projects inCalifornia that will have a capacity of 780 MW. On the same day that the company received the loan guarantees it sold the projects, but will continue to build, maintain and operate them.
Although its parent company is facing a financial struggle, the Department of Energy maintains the future is sound for a Northern Nevada geothermal power plant that it backed with a loan guarantee, officials said Monday.
The Blue Mountain plant in Humboldt County is expected to generate enough revenue over the next 20 years to cover a $93 million loan from John Hancock Life Insurance Co., of which $79 million was guaranteed by the government, a DOE spokesman said.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth releasede-mails this week revealing a cozy and collaborative relationship between TransCanada Corporation lobbyist Paul Elliott and an employee at the U.S. State Department, the agency currently weighing approval of TransCanada’s permit application for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
A New York Timesreport notes that the emails show the State Department official providing “subtle coaching and cheerleading” for TransCanada:
A State Department official provided Fourth of July party invitations, subtle coaching and cheerleading, and inside information about Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s meetings to a Washington lobbyist for a Canadian company seeking permission from the department to build a pipeline that would carry crude from the oil sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The emails also suggest the State Department understood that after securing approval of the pipeline, TransCanada would reverse the concessions it made in respose to safety concerns. From the Times report:
TransCanada lobbyists exchanged e-mails with State Department officials in July about their intention to drop their request to operate the Keystone XL pipeline at higher pressures than normally allowed in the United States to win political support, but then suggested they would reapply for the exception once the project had been cleared.
Beacon Power (A spin-off of SatCon Technology Corp.)
The DOE awarded the $43 million loan guarantee for a planned 20 MW plant in Stephentown, New York. According to Beacon, the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank would fund the loan itself to cover 62.5 percent of the estimated $69 million in total project costs.
The Stephentown facility is already under construction, and Beacon says it has incurred $14 million so far in project expenditures that will count toward its $26 million cost sharing requirements under the DOE program. Beacon says it’s now, “in the process of finalizing the administrative aspects of the loan.”
Few details are known to date, but it is curious that David Prend is on the Board of Directors and is a Managing General Partner and co-founder of RockPort Capital Partners. He currently serves on the Boards of Achates Power, Aspen Aerogels, Aspen Products Group, Hycrete Technologies, InVisage Technologies, SatCon Technology Corporation, Solyndra and SustainX.
Emails raise fresh questions on Obama energy loan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An Obama administration appointee at the Energy Department pressed White House analysts to sign off on a $535 million loan to Solyndra even though his wife worked for the failed solar panel maker’s law firm, according to internal emails made public on Friday.
The revelation adds new drama to a political battle over the administration’s backing for Solyndra, which has filed for bankruptcy and has been raided by the FBI. The newly disclosed emails reveal “a disturbingly close relationship” between the White House, campaign donors and wealthy investors relating to Solyndra, a senior congressional Republican said.
The emails show frequent inquiries from Steven Spinner, who was an adviser to the Energy Department on its use of economic stimulus funding to spur clean energy technology, on the Solyndra loan, according to a report in the New York Times.
On September 29, the Energy Department had posted a “fact check” on Spinner’s involvement in the Solyndra case on its website, explaining that he started his job after the company received conditional approval for its loan application.
The department said Spinner “was recused from engaging in any discussions on decisions affecting specific loan applications in which his spouse’s law firm was involved out of concern for the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Allison Spinner is a partner at the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which represented Solyndra.
Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said on Friday that the department’s ethics officer had cleared Spinner to “oversee and monitor the progress of applications,” although he was not allowed to make decisions on loans or their terms.
LaVera added that Allison Spinner had “agreed not to participate in or receive any financial compensation from her law firm’s work on behalf of any loan program applicant.”
Allison Spinner did not work on the Solyndra matter and the firm created an “ethical wall” between her and any of its work on Energy Department issues while her husband worked for the government, according to Courtney Dorman, a spokeswoman for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati said.
While Steve Spinner was at the department, Allison Spinner had agreed to not work on Energy Department issues for clients, and the firm did not discuss or disclose related issues or documents with her, Dorman said.
Steven and Allison Spinner did not respond to requests for comment.
‘BREATHING DOWN MY NECK’
The White House, which has aggressively defended decisions made on the loan guarantee, turned over the emails on Friday to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been probing the loan for the past eight months.
“The paper trail released by the White House portrays a disturbingly close relationship between President Obama’s West Wing inner circle, campaign donors, and wealthy investors that spawned the Solyndra mess,” Representatives Fred Upton, the panel’s chairman, and Cliff Stearns, the head of the investigation, said in a statement.
The emails show Spinner discussed the pending final decision often with Solyndra officials, Energy Department colleagues, and the White House budget office, the New York Times said.
“I have the O.V.P. and W.H. breathing down my neck on this,” Spinner wrote, referring to the office of the vice president and the White House in an email to an Energy Department loan officer.
Spinner, who advises clean tech companies in San Francisco, was an Obama fundraiser during the 2008 presidential campaign, the newspaper said.
Other emails showed top Treasury Department officials were alarmed about an Energy Department decision to restructure the company’s debt earlier this year, when it ran out of cash.
The plan allowed some $75 million in private investment to be ranked ahead of the government in the event of bankruptcy. That private fund was backed by a prominent Obama fundraiser, George Kaiser.
IN THE DARK
Mary Miller, Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial markets, emailed the White House budget director two weeks before Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, complaining the Energy Department had kept Treasury in the dark.
The loan was provided by Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank but was guaranteed and monitored by the Energy Department.
Treasury Department lawyers did not think the law allowed for the government loan to be subordinated, Miller said in an August 17 email to Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“In February, we requested in writing that DOE seek the Department of Justice’s approval of any proposed restructuring. To our knowledge, that has never happened,'” Miller said in the email, excerpts of which were provided by House Republicans.
She also complained that “DOE has not responded to any requests for information about Solyndra” despite requests dating to July 2010.
But emails provided by the administration showed that top staff at the Energy Department discussed the concerns with the chief financial officer of Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank.
“Ultimately, DOE’s determination that the restructuring was legal was made by career lawyers in the loan program based on a careful analysis of the statute,” an Energy Department spokesman said.
A Treasury spokesman declined to elaborate on the contents of Miller’s email.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has now requested Treasury turn over all documents related to the Solyndra loan guarantee.
The panel has collected tens of thousands of pages of documents from the Energy Department and White House, and has requested information from two private investors in Solyndra.
The committee has also asked the Energy Department for information on 27 other guarantees backing about $16 billion in loans. The panel is slated to hold another hearing on its findings next Friday, October 14.
Editor’s Note – We were promised transparency and our government is designed to be ruled by the people. Yet, uncovering a secret Federal Bank is anything but lawful. To add insult to the Rule-of-Law, this bank with the nod from the White House, is gambling off the books and away from Wall Street by taking financial risks in venture capital start-ups. Cease and desist orders, injunctions, and warrants for arrest should be raining down on Washington DC.
Today, several billion dollars must be doled out or lost due to a deadline imposed by Congress, and of course, at this late hour, oversight is quite difficult to impose, and definitely no time to prevent another Solyndra. This is a repeating ploy, a constant card played to force the American people to swallow last minute garbage for crony capitalism, all under the guise of creating jobs, or fixing health care, or repairing our debt ceiling woes, or continuing resolutions to keep government running, or creating a more “green” workforce. This is no way to run our government, and the White House continues to push, all the while saying they are being “blocked” by those pesky Republicans who are being held “hostage” by the Tea Party.
When your ideas fail on the floor of the House, just push harder, or write an Executive Order, or force a judge to legislate from the bench, or pour out more regulations from the EPA or Energy Department. Failed policies, failed ideas, no problem, they will just force them down our throats. Best yet, Finance your friends through this bank.
The Government Bank That’s Financing More Solyndras
(The following story has been corrected to reflect that the Federal Financing Bank is an on-balance sheet bank whose activities are reported in the Department of Treasury’s financial statements. The story also inaccurately stated that the FFB provides a “backdoor government bailout” of the U.S. Postal Service. In fact, Congress provides the USPS with statutory authority to borrow up to $15 billion to finance its business operations, and the FFB lends money to the USPS pursuant to this longstanding authority. The Treasury Department was unavailable for comment prior to publishing of the story, but its subsequent responses have been included below.)
Sitting at the center of the Solyndra scandal is a little-known bank at the Treasury Department that dates back to 1973.
This government bank, the Federal Financing Bank [FFB], had a zero balance in 2008 for green energy projects, but now, with little Congressional oversight — the FFB’s oversight committees are the Senate Banking Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, and once a year the FFB submits its performance plan to both committees — it is giving out billions of dollars in loans to White House pet projects often at dirt-cheap interest rates below 1%. In July alone, the government bank, which had $61 billion in assets, lent nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in taxpayer funds.
The bank is also funding the insolvent U.S. Postal Service; the White House’s expensive green car projects at Ford Motor, Nissan and Tesla Motors; a $485 million loan to an expensive solar project that’s lost $160 million over the last three years that’s backed by Google, BP and Chevron; plus the FFB is funding the teetering HOPE housing bailout program, which gives delinquent mortgage borrowers breaks on their loans.
And according to KPMG’s audit report of the bank, the FFB is losing billions of dollars in taxpayer money because it is forgoing collecting interest costs on already inexpensive loans that are financing projects at agencies like the Agriculture Department.
What’s scary for taxpayers is this: The FFB can borrow unlimited amounts of taxpayer money from the Treasury for these kinds of political pet projects. Under the 1973 “FFB Act, the bank may, with the approval of the Secretary, borrow without limit from the Treasury,” says the bank’s audited statements from KPMG.
The Treasury Department’s inspector general is now investigating the bank over its $528 million loan to Solyndra. FFB’s chairman of the board is Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and the bank’s board executives are Treasury officials.
Who is getting the FFB’s green energy money? As the White House and Democrats in Congress rail against tax breaks for oil companies, the FFB gave taxpayer loans to green companies with high cash burn that were spilling red ink.
For instance, Solyndra was still getting loans from the FFB up until it filed for bankruptcy. It got $3 million in loans at a 0.89% rate just a month and a half before it filed for bankruptcy protection. The FFB is also giving loans to risky solar companies as well as to a money-losing solar energy outfit backed by companies such as Google, Morgan Stanley, Chevron and BP that has spilled $160 million in red ink for the last three years.
In the month of July alone, the FFB gave a $12.5 million loan to Abound Solar; 60% of Abound’s balance sheet will come from federal taxpayers, or $400 million in guaranteed federal loans.
FFB also gave a $117,330 loan to the struggling Kahuku Wind Power and more than $77 million to the Solar Partners companies, whose parent company is due $485 million in White House approved loans. The Solar Partners companies are units of BrightSource Energy, which is building a massive solar-powered energy plant near the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino, California.
BrightSource lost $45 million in 2008, $44 million in 2009, and $72 million in 2010, even though it has rich backers that include Google, Chevron, Morgan Stanley and BP, among others, says FOX News analyst James Farrell.
“The FFB does not decide whether to provide loans to particular institutions or recipients,” a spokesman for the Treasury Department said. “The federal agencies that administer loan guarantee programs decide which entities will receive loan guarantees under their respective programs. The guarantor federal agency–and not the FFB–selects the projects and makes the credit decisions for the federal government. The FFB is only authorized to fund a loan after a guarantor federal agency has decided to provide a 100% federal loan guarantee to a private sector entity. The FFB has no independent authority or discretion to make investment decisions.”
Besides the green energy projects, the FFB has lent the US Postal Service so far $12.6 billion. The USPS faces an estimated $10 billion shortfall this year, as the Internet, companies like FedEx and UPS, and high retiree health-benefit costs slice into its bottom line.
And the government bank gave loans to car and car parts manufacturers to retrofit their plants to make green cars. The FFB lent Ford Motor $163 million for its green car programs. The FFB is now financing projects at Fisker Automotive, Nissan North America and Tesla Motors, with $528.6 million, $1.4 billion and $465 million in federal loans, respectively.
“The FFB exercises only those authorities expressly provided by Congress,” the Treasury spokesman said. “It makes loans to private sector entities pursuant to federal loan guarantee programs that are created, overseen, and funded by Congress.”
However, the FFB’s balance sheet is backed by U.S. taxpayers, “except for loans to the U.S. Postal Service,” says KPMG’s audited statements for the bank. Because you, U.S. taxpayers, are the cushion for the bank, unlike other banks, the FFB “does not maintain a reserve for loan losses,” says the KPMG report.
Not booking loan loss reserves would get any other bank in trouble with federal bank regulators such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Federal program agencies that administer loan guarantee programs make the individual credit decisions,” the Treasury spokesman said. “And the Federal Credit Reform Act, a federal law, mandates that loan loss reserves must be held on the books of the guarantor agencies. The sponsor agency that has issued a full, faith, and credit guarantee to the FFB is the federal entity that reports the loss.”
The KPMG report says the bank told it that “no future credit-related losses are expected,” even though Solyndra clearly disputes that optimistic bureaucratic resolve. (The bank did earn $449.5 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, up slightly from $444.2 million in fiscal 2009.)
Why was this federal government bank created in the first place? Congress launched the FFB in 1973 to “reduce the costs of Federal and federally assisted borrowings,” smoothing the way for the government’s fiscal policies — fiscal policies which at the time were wading into the private credit markets like never before.
At the time, the federal government first began to see an avalanche of Congressionally approved off-budget financing for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae. These quasi-government operations began to help grease loans for housing and for students by aiding loans securitized as bonds in the secondary markets. Banks packaged these loans as securities and sold them on to Fannie, Freddie and Sallie Mae.
These bonds though began to compete with Treasury securities, and Congress at the time feared Treasury would have to offer higher yields to attract investors away from those securities. The Vietnam war was still going, and the government was struggling to pay for the war and at the same time was battling a deep recession that had hit the U.S. economy, along with an oil shock exacerbated when OPEC plus Egypt, Syria and Tunisia hit the U.S. with an oil embargo due to its support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War with Egypt and Syria.
So to keep the government’s borrowing costs low, Congress launched the FFB and gave it broad statutory authority to purchase any “bonds issued, sold, or guaranteed by federal agencies,” says KPMG’s audit report. The bank then became a vehicle through which all sorts of federal agencies could finance their programs.
Since then, the FFB has helped finance a broad range of government operations, from agricultural to military programs, to now green energy projects.
Congress almost got the FFB in hot water beginning in 2006 when lawmakers pressured then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to open the window at the FFB to help finance student loans. At the time, Sallie Mae was posting losses as students in droves began defaulting on their high-priced college loans.
A slew of lenders, about a seventh of the student loan market at the time, had stopped giving federally guaranteed student loans. Sallie Mae then pressured lawmakers such as Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to give student lenders a bailout via the Federal Financing Bank, but President George W. Bush frowned on that, and the effort went nowhere.
And now it’s the White House’s use of the FFB for green energy projects that will likely raise eyebrows.
The FFB lent no money to green companies backed by Department of Energy guarantees from 2007 to 2008, even though it could have done so starting in 2007 under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed into law under President George W. Bush.
That act authorized $42 billion in federal green energy loans, notes FOX News analyst Farrell. Under the 2005 law, the government could make federal loans for companies battling greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as nuclear power projects.
The FFB then began giving green loans backed by the Department of Energy after the Obama Administration’s stimulus bill of 2009 was enacted. After stimulus was signed into law by President Barack Obama, the FFB then began funding clean energy programs, backed by $2.4 billion appropriated by Congress. Under this program, Solyndra got $528 million.
The FFB doesn’t just fund green energy projects. It also funds the Home Ownership Preservation Entity (HOPE) Fund, enacted under the Bush Administration to help distressed borrowers avoid foreclosure by reducing their mortgage payments.
The bank is going full bore in helping to fund the White House’s foreclosure bailouts via buying HOPE bonds, a program that could hit $300 billion in federal costs.
The bonds essentially give investors a stake in government housing bailouts. But what should give taxpayers pause is this: the Treasury Secretary can issue HOPE bonds “without any limitations as to the purchaser of the issuance,” KPMG’s audited statements note.
Translation: The Treasury can issue these bonds, and the FFB then buys the HOPE bonds that investors don’t’ want.
“Due to the cost of issuing special purpose bonds to the public, the Secretary of the Treasury has decided to issue the HOPE bonds to the bank,” KPMG notes in its report.
That means those bonds now sit on FFB’s balance sheet, more than $492 million worth. “The bank (FFB) borrowed funds from Treasury,” says KPMG’s audit, “to purchase the HOPE bonds.”
The amounts involved can rise to $300 billion, because the Hope for Homeowners Act authorizes Treasury to issue up to $300 billion in HOPE bonds. “FFB does not have the money to buy the bonds, so it has to borrow money from Treasury to buy the bonds,” notes FOX News analyst Farrell.
However, KPMG notes in its report that “the purchase of HOPE bonds is consistent with the core mission of the Bank.”
The FFB also acts as essentially a slush bank for federal loans, an operation that helps clean up the balance sheets of other federal agencies. KPMG notes that the “lending policy of the bank is flexible enough to preclude the need for any accumulation of pools of funds by agencies.” But the FFB also lets federal agencies slide on interest costs they owe the bank on loans, even though their interest rates are dirt cheap.
For instance, the FFB has been hit with losses on loans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, loans the Agriculture Dept. received to service rural utilities. The Agriculture Dept. is stiffing the FBB on interest it owes on these loans, a cumulative $1.7 billion in losses here.
The bank also lets the General Services Administration [GSA], as well as “Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” and the Veteran Administration slide on interest costs on their loans, too. The bank lets them defer interest costs “on their loans until future periods,” the KMPG report says.
“As required by federal statute, FFB is not allowed to collect interest income on certain loans under the Cushion of Credit program operated by the Rural Utilities Service, the successor agency to [the] Rural Electrification Administration,” the Treasury spokesman says. “This practice is mandated by Congress, via federal statute. The FFB has no discretion in the matter.”
Editor’s Note – The business of the people does not include investing your tax dollars into venture capital incubation companies. But when it comes to the ‘Green Agenda’, this administration is using the Van Jones play book for the sake of jobs, at least that is what they are saying. Jobs is one thing but going green is not the solution to our dependence on fossil fuels, foreign or domestic, and never will be. Our energy demand far out strips any solar or wind output, especially in economic terms. The government is chartered with performing policy that adheres to the law, and cozy crony capitalism is anathema to the law, and this activity is following the “Rule-of-Men” not the “Rule-of-Law” our foundations are set upon. Our voices need to be heard that the private sector is our economic machine, not the government picking and choosing winners and the EPA and White House simply throw sand in the gears for others.
59% Oppose Government Loan Help for Alternative Energy Company Like Solyndra
Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Likely U.S. Voters think free market competition is more likely than government subsidies and regulation to help the United States develop alternative sources of energy. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% believe government subsidies and regulations are the better way to go. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
But then 71% of voters say private sector companies and investors are better than government officials when it comes to determining the long-term benefits and potential of new technologies. Sixty-four percent (64%) think it’s likely that if a private company which cannot find investors gets funding from the government, that money will be wasted.
If private investors aren’t willing to put money into a company, only 17% of voters think the federal government should provide loan guarantees or loans to help keep such a company in business. Fifty-nine percent (59%) say the government should not provide money for an alternative energy company after private investors refuse to invest in it. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure.
Solyndra received $535 million loan guarantees from the federal government after private investors refused to invest further. The company had strong political ties to the president including major campaign contributions. A plurality (47%) of voters agrees that when business owners support a winning politician, they get special treatment when applying for government loan guarantees. Twenty-nine percent (29%) do not believe that to be true, while another 23% are not sure.
While most voters oppose government funding help for “alternative energy” companies that can’t attract private investment, they’ve evenly divided when asked specifically about “companies that want to develop solar or wind power.” Forty percent (40%) say the government should provide funding for solar and wind power companies if investors will not invest in them, while an identical 40% oppose such government funding. Nineteen percent (19%) are undecided.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 24-25, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Just 39% of voters say they have followed recent news reports about Solyndra, with 19% who are following Very Closely.
Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 59% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties think free market competition is more likely than government subsidies and regulations to help the United States develop alternative sources of energy. Just 34% of Democrats agree. A plurality (41%) of voters in the president’s party have more confidence in government subsidies and regulations.
Fifty-five percent (55%) of Democrats and a plurality (44%) of unaffiliated voters believe the government should provide funding to companies that want to develop solar or wind power even if private investors will not invest in them. Sixty-three percent (63%) of GOP voters oppose such funding.
Given a case like Solyndra, though, 57% of unaffiliateds agree with 78% of Republicans that the government should not provide loans or loan guarantees to help keep the company in business if private investors refuse to get involved. Democrats agree by a much narrower 43% to 26% margin.
Nearly half (49%) of Political Class voters think the government should help an alternative energy company in a situation like Solyndra’s.Seventy percent (70%) of Mainstream voters disagree. But 53% of those in the Mainstream believe that when business owners support a winning politician, they get special treatment when applying for loan guarantees. Fifty-four percent (54%) of the Political Class think that’s not true.
The loan guarantees for Solyndra which are now unlikely to ever be repaid came from the $787-billion stimulus plan approved in early 2009 by the Congress, and voters have remained lukewarm on that package ever since the president first proposed it.
Editor’s Note – How can our representative legislators proactively perform the people’s business when they are stuck cleaning up mess after newly discovered mess? The mess is pay to play corruption and some in Washington DC are busy investigating insider deals between government agencies and corporate America. This is not only making the USA stand still with addressing all that ails America, but it is moving us backwards. This work must be part of today’s mission as integrity is fleeting, honesty is absent, and cooperation only comes in the form of Stimulus money. How many more “blacked out” pages must we deal with as this administration “co-operates”? Not in the true sense of ‘cooperation’ but in the co-opting of your wallet, the truth, and the propaganda machine by and for the “fat-cats” in BLUE Brooks Brother suits. Yes, the other fat-cats Obama does not scream about in your face on a daily basis wear Democrat Blue.
We at SUA wonder if Solyndra, or Light Squared had corporate jets, or paid their “fair share” just like his crony Jeffrey Immelt at GE. Of course GE paid NOTHING, and you paid for the ‘fat-cat’ in blue on the Solyndra deal, before the tax-payer in the pecking order.
As SUA has been reporting, it is information overload, and the system is now thoroughly overwhelmed. Saul Alinsky would be proud of Obama and his cronies. Not only is this administration changing America into a third-world, failed, Euro-style Social Democracy, more bankrupt at a faster rate, it is also the MOST CORRUPT! Now, our few non-Democrat party ‘checks-and-balances’ Representatives must work “Fast and Furious” to shed “Light Squared”, and drag the “Solyndra” to come into the days light. What is next?
House Republicans are making a concerted effort to drum home charges that the White House is guilty of Chicago-style cronyism.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) signaled the GOP’s intent Tuesday in announcing he would investigate White House actions related to the failed solar firm Solyndra and the wireless startup LightSquared.
Both firms have ties to the White House and have been involved in messy controversies over the past several weeks.
Though Issa did not accuse the White House of wrongdoing, his statements and actions suggest Republicans hope to make ethics an issue for Obama during the 2012 presidential race.
“I want to see when the president and his cronies are picking winners and losers. … It wasn’t because there were large contributions given to them,” Issa said Tuesday morning on C-SPAN.
“We are investigating. But we’re looking at it not for one company or two companies. We’re looking at the system [and] the corruption that seems to be endemic in [it],” Issa added.
Solyndra went bankrupt this month after winning a $535 million loan guarantee funded by the 2009 stimulus package. Republicans cite emails that they say show the White House pressured administration staffers to quickly finalize financing for the company despite their misgivings about the firm’s viability.
LightSquared, meanwhile, has been seeking regulatory approval to use new wireless technology that has been found to interfere with GPS. Republicans charge that the White House pressured an Air Force general to revise testimony before a closed congressional hearing to aid the company.
Conservative news sites have pounced on both stories.
House Republicans have questioned whether the White House gave preferential treatment to Solyndra because of its ties to a venture capital fund associated with George Kaiser, a fundraising bundler for the Obama campaign.
The White House has strongly rejected the allegations, noting that another major backer of Solyndra is associated with the Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart and has backed Republican candidates.
“In this time of record debt, I question whether the government is qualified to act as a venture capitalist, picking winners and losers in speculative ventures and shelling out billions of taxpayer dollars to keep them afloat,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said during a hearing last week.
The White House says the emails about Solyndra that Republicans cite in making the allegations reflect a “scheduling matter,” and not an effort to rush a final decision on the loan guarantee. They’ve insisted that the White House exerted no influence in choosing the company and noted that the George W. Bush administration flagged it as a top prospect for a loan guarantee.
The White House has also pointed to recent stories that show top Republicans like Upton and Issa have pressed the Energy Department to approve loan guarantees in their home states.
Republicans are expanding their investigation to include 14 pending loan guarantees from the Energy Department, totaling $8.9 billion, that they fear are being rushed out the door to meet the Sept. 30 deadline set by the stimulus law. “We are concerned that another rush to meet stimulus deadlines will result in DOE closing these deals before they are ready,” Upton wrote in a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday.
Upton’s committee is conducting its own investigation of the Solyndra bankruptcy. During a hearing last week, Republicans on the panel’s investigative subcommittee blasted Energy Department and White House Office of Management and Budget officials over the loan guarantee.
“Only after the Obama administration took control and the stimulus passed was the Solyndra deal pushed through,” Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the investigative panel, said at the hearing.
On Friday, the panel will have a chance to question top Solyndra executives about the company’s decision to file for bankruptcy and lay off 1,100 workers. Solyndra said the executives would exercise their Fifth Amendment rights at the hearing, citing the ongoing federal investigations into the company. The session will nonetheless be a prime opportunity for Republicans to skewer the administration on the incident.
Other top House Republicans have pounced on the Solyndra debacle. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) called on the Justice Department on Monday to appoint a special examiner to investigate the Solyndra bankruptcy.
“An independent examiner will uncover the truth about whether politics played a role in influencing the Obama administration to favor Solyndra over more financially stable loan applicants and thus ensure the integrity of the bankruptcy process for all creditors,” Smith said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
The administration is also examining the Solyndra loan guarantee.
The Energy Department’s inspector general worked with the FBI on its raid of Solyndra earlier this month, though it is unclear if the raid was related to the loan guarantee. The inspectors general at the Treasury Department and Justice Department are also looking into the issue.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the Solyndra incident should lead to an examination of the Energy Department’s renewable energy loan guarantee program.
“One of the things that I would like to have the committee consider is not necessarily picking apart Solyndra. Solyndra is yesterday’s bankruptcy. I am concerned about what this might portend for the loan guarantee program as a whole,” Murkowski said.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) distributed a document to Republicans on Tuesday during their weekly caucus lunch noting that Solyndra’s government-backed loan amounted to more money than most states received for their highways, roads and bridges under the stimulus law.
Republicans have raised similar concerns about LightSquared. “We cannot afford to have federal telecommunication policy, especially where it affects national security, to be made in the same way this White House has parceled out a half-billion dollars in loan guarantees to the failed Solyndra Corp.,” Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said during a hearing last week.
The Daily Beast reported that the White House asked Air Force Gen. William Shelton to change his prepared remarks for a closed-door hearing on LightSquared in order to show that he supported the administration’s policy to expand wireless broadband access, even though the company’s technology had been found to interfere with military and aviation GPS.
Both LightSquared and the White House have denied any wrongdoing.
Since becoming chairman of the powerful committee in January, Issa has used his subpoena power to probe a wide variety of issues within the White House.
“I do not trust anybody,” Issa said on C-SPAN Tuesday. “My job is not to trust.”
“I have 16 presidents in two paintings on my wall — eight Republicans and eight Democrats — and when people come in, I point to them and I say, ‘Here are 16 people you can’t trust.’ ”
Jordy Yager, Ben Geman and Justin Sink contributed to this story.
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