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No More Solyndras Act a Step in the Right Direction

David Williams on 2012-07-13 21:09:45


Earlier this week, Congressmen Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) introduced a bill, the “No More Solyndras Act,” which is intended to ensure that taxpayers’ money will never again be jeopardized because of poor decision making on part of the government.  Specifically their bill, according to POLITICO’s Morning Energy, “would bar any subordination of taxpayer interests, require DOE to consult with Treasury on applications submitted before this year and block DOE from finalizing new deals under the 1703 program for applications submitted this year.

The introduction of such a piece of legislation is long overdue and should be welcomed and encouraged since members of Congress have proposed a way to protect taxpayers in this way. 

While this is a very significant step forward, Congress still has quite a challenge in front of them.  Thursday’s hearing on “No More Solyndras” revealed that the extent of a deep chasm between how the administration views the loan guarantee program and how everyone else views the inherently flawed program.  The proof of this is in an exchange between Rep. Sterns and Department of Energy Loan Program Office Acting Executive Director David Frantz:

Rep. Stearns to Frantz: “Don’t you agree that the loan guarantee program has had a tough record?”

Frantz’s response: “Ah, quite to the contrary, sir.  I think it has been an enormous success.”

Frantz’s statement so aptly illuminates the severe disconnect between how the administration perceives the issue and how the rest of America does.  And Frantz and the rest of Obama’s team is only one layer of the problem; another being that Solyndra’s failure is only the tip of the iceberg.  Rep. Upton pointed to a few of the other bankrupt companies in a press release, “In light of the recent string of bankruptcies, Solyndra, Beacon Power, and Abound Solar just last week, our bill takes a stand for American taxpayers, declaring loud and clear that there will be ‘No More Solyndras.’”  While impossible to mitigate all the damage already done, the Upton/Stearns’ bill takes a step in the right direction by reducing, if not preventing entirely, the likelihood of the situation from ever recurring.

Until that happens, it’s important for taxpayers to remember the horrible nature of this program and not lessen our resolve against it.  Americans shouldn’t just be upset by the fact the federal government lost our hard-earned money on a risky bet on Solyndra and other now-bankrupt companies.  The even more alarming problem here is the fact that Washington thinks it has a rightful role and well-warranted prerogative in getting involved in nascent green energy industries.  And on top of that it offering someone else’s money as financial backing.

That’s the fundamental flaw with the government’s mentality, it thinks it is okay at all to gamble with taxpayer money and act, if not usurp, the role of private investors.  If the company succeeds, it will prove that it was capable to stand on its own, without government funding, in the marketplace.  That’s a clear demonstration that the company never needed the money in the first place.  In the event the company fails, it demonstrates that there was no demand for its product in the market.

The bottom line is: Your hard-earned money should never make it out the door for such a project in the first place. Likewise, we shouldn’t just be angered when a company loses all our money once it goes bankrupt, we should be just as infuriated by how out-of-line the government is when it thinks it can place any bets and take any risk – no matter how negligible they may be – in backing a private company.

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