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Friday, September 30, 2011

Venture socialism

Senator Jim DeMint:

The demise of Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel company showered with more than a half-billion dollars in stimulus loans, exposes the fatal flaw of President Obama’s jobs plans.

Government officials rushed $535 million to Solyndra because the Obama administration was determined to make the company the centerpiece of its green agenda regardless of the law of supply and demand. Billions more have been wasted by politicians betting on favored companies and making Washington bigger, using the brute force of government to force liberal preferences into the economy. Mr. Obama calls them “investments,” but this is really venture socialism.

The entire purpose of the $825 billion stimulus bill was to sink government money into politically advantageous projects. Once the federal coffers were opened, the venture vultures eagerly descended. Obama bundler and major Solyndra backer George Kaiser, who splits his time between Oklahoma and California, explained it this way in a July 2009 speech in Tulsa: “There has never been more money shoved out of the government’s door in world history and probably never will be again than in the last few months and the next 18 months. And our selfish, parochial goal is to get as much of it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can.”

Mr. Kaiser was right: The government was shoveling money to various projects faster than the country had ever seen. The Department of Energy issued loans or loan guarantees or offered conditional support for loan guarantees totaling $38.6 billion for green energy projects, one of which was Solyndra. The program was supposed to “create or save” 65,000 jobs. But as taxpayers learned in recent weeks, this type of financial support carries substantial risk for the taxpayer. If the project fails, as Solyndra did, government foots the bill. And those promised jobs? They haven’t materialized. The Department of Energy (optimistically) says just 3,545 permanent jobs have been created as a result of the program. Still, the money keeps getting shoveled to high-risk startups. The Department of Energy is expected to finalize $9 billion more in green loans by the end of the month.

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