The crony capitalism involved in the Obama administration’s Solyndra scandal that left taxpayers on the hook for a half billion dollars in government-backed loans must not be allowed to be repeated, Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., tells Newsmax.TV.
Stearns, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, along with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., has introduced the No More Solyndras Act. Solyndra declared bankruptcy in August 2011. The company manufactured solar panels but couldn’t compete with cheaper products from China and filed for bankruptcy in August 2011.
Subsequent investigations have revealed that the Obama administration continued to provide government-backed loans even though they were aware the company was in trouble. E-mails show that the loan-process was tainted by political considerations and a Washington Post investigation found that nearly $4 billion in federal grants and financing went to a host of companies with connections to five administration staffers and advisers on energy policy.
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“The title of the bill is ‘No More Solyndras’ and it has three major components,” Stearns said. “The first is, we do away with the program so no more loan guarantees like this can occur. The second thing is we make sure there are no more subordinations so that the Department of Energy can’t bring in, for example, hedge funds and permit them to get access to taxpayers’ funds and taxpayers are no longer part of the process.
“The third thing is, we say that the Department of Energy has to review each of these loans and determine whether they’re economically viable and whether they have merit. Those three things are important because in this case the taxpayers lost a half a billion dollars and they were subordinated by two hedge funds and in the end, these loan guarantees for the most part did not create jobs. In fact, many of the companies, Beacon was one them and the other was Abound, went bankrupt and . . . Solyndra had 2000 employees they laid off and they went bankrupt and a week later they were raided by the FBI.”
Investigations have shown that the government pressed ahead with the funding even though advisors were cautioning against it.
“Well unfortunately, the president is making decisions based upon political reasons and not on economic reasons” Stearns said. “I think if you look at his background and where he came from, he has no experience in the free enterprise, and frankly, (Steven) Chu, the Secretary of the Department of Energy, again has no background in the development of the free enterprise system. He’s basically a scientist. I’ve called for his resignation. I feel he’s done a poor job in management as Secretary of Energy and I really think these loan guarantees are a good example. But the bottom line is the president makes decisions on political situations rather than their merit and this clearly is a good example.”
Stearns acknowledged that the bill has little hope of becoming law as long as the Senate is controlled by the Democrats and Barack Obama is president. However, he believes the GOP has a greater duty to the American people.
“Well I hear that all the time, ‘Why are you offering a bill to go nowhere?’ But I think the Republicans have a fiduciary responsibility to put forth bills that they think will help the economy and at the same time stop debacles like Solyndra” he explained. “So if we sit back and do nothing and wait until we get a Senate or a president that’s Republican, then I think we are making a mistake. I think we are talking to the American people by saying, ‘This is what we would do as a majority in the Congress if we had a White House where the president was sympathetic to these initiatives.’ So in the end, we’re just trying to make a statement that this is what Republicans believe and we think it’s important that we pass this legislation.”
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