Is it just me or does this Solyndra bankruptcy seem to be getting a whole lot of press? A lot more than it deserves.
Granted, Fremont, California-based Solyndra had an interesting idea, and it definitely was not your grandfather’s solar power company. We’re talking cutting edge technology here, folks. Something that would really impress Al Gore. The Solyndra solar panel concept consisted of bunches of cylindrically-shaped solar collectors grouped together in a panel that collected solar energy not only from the sun at high noon, but also when the sun was rising or setting. The cylindrically-shaped solar collectors probably inspired the name “Solyndra,” which sounds kind of like “cylindrical.” At least that is my theory on how they got the name.
And we all know President Obama has a thing for solar power. And why wouldn’t he? Aside from the toxic chemicals that are used to make solar panels, the blight on countless rooftops and hillsides, and the unsafe disposal of spent solar collectors, solar power is a clean, safe and renewable energy source.
After the Bush administration had turned Solyndra down for a loan guarantee, Solyndra got $535 million in a government loan from the in-coming Obama administration even though Solyndra had never turned a profit and habitually sold their solar panels for less than the cost to make them. And when it looked like Solyndra was going to blow through that money, it filed for an Initial Public Offering to sell stock, and that required an audit. And the audit is what led to the auditor basically saying “you’re kidding, right?”
Then on September 6 Solyndra filed for bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 employees. But the whole situation started to really stink when everyone noticed that the loan guarantee that had been so quickly approved by the Obama administration was at the urging of a major Obama contributor.
Predictably, wagons started circling in the Obama world. Former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and former Obama political advisor David Axelrod denied any knowledge of the Solyndra loan, and in fact they would probably deny even knowing where Fremont, California is. And when the FBI raided the Solyndra headquarters and lead Solyndra executives refused to testify at a recent congressional hearing, well, you have what is known in financial terminology as “a big mess.”
But while it sounds as if it was never a good financial idea to loan the money to Solyndra in the first place, it doesn’t necessarily add up to a major Obama scandal, which is what it is being treated like. Recently The Weekly Standard even referred to President Obama as “President Solyndra,” which is actually an insult to Solyndra because the Solyndra bankruptcy is a piker compared to the on-going fiscal disaster of the United States.
Sure, people will be charged with financial crimes and some people even jailed. That is the reality of our financial laws nowadays. If you start a business today you can either get rich if the business makes it, or if the business fails you can get sued to death, arrested and possibly even thrown in prison, or all of the above.
But it is a stretch to connect all of this to President Obama, and an even bigger waste of time to try to use this as a leading story of the 2012 election.
Worse than that, Solyndra is another in a long list of distractions that seeks to characterize the 2012 election as what it is not. 2012 will not be an election between two candidates and parties who may have the fewest numbers of skeletons in their closets. 2012 will be a pure right vs. left slug-fest, and we need to keep it that way. President Obama has given leftism to us strong and hard, and the resulting tepid economy and 9.1% unemployment are on display for all to see. And in response, we get a proposed replay of the 2009 stimulus spending that never got the economy going the first time. No triangulation here!
And why is there a need to raise taxes again, in addition to the Obamacare tax hikes and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts that are already going to happen? At this point in Clinton’s first term he was complaining of having raised our taxes too much, whereas President Obama wants to pile on more tax hikes. While this would hurt an already weak economy, you can’t complain about the pure dichotomy of it all. One side calls for limited government and lower taxes, while the other side calls for more spending and higher taxes, and we see the result of years of those policies already in place. Voters will have a clear choice.
So let’s not give too much importance to the Solyndra story. Come to think of it, Al Gore might have been impressed with the solar panels from Solyndra, but his venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins, wasn’t, and so Kleiner Perkins didn’t invest in Solyndra. Maybe Mr. Gore is more excited about harnessing hot air instead of solar power, but that is a column for another day.