Obama admin attacking China for subsidies in solar tech as reason why our subsidies didn’t work, or something

posted at 1:25 pm on September 19, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

With their entire economic approach under fire after the collapse of Solyndra — and no small amount of speculation as to the motives behind the Obama administration’s approval of over a half-billion dollars in subsidies for the solar-tech flop — the White House has launched their own investigation into Solyndra’s failure.  Are they looking at their own decision to sink tens of billions of dollars into a decades-old industry that has never produced a return on such subsidies before?  No, they’re looking to blame China for, er, doing exactly what Obama did in 2009 (via Jimmie Bise):

The Department of Labor has become the latest federal agency to open an inquiry into the bankruptcy of Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer in Fremont that President Obama once hailed as “a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism.”

But unlike the inspectors general of the Energy and Treasury Departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who are looking into possible wrongdoing in connection with the company’s $527 million federal loan, the Labor Department is examining a more prosaic economic question: Did Solyndra’s workers lose their jobs because of competition from China? …

The inquiry was set in motion in response to a petition filed by Alameda County under the little-known Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which provides for additional benefits to American workers when their jobs are lost to foreign trade. In the petition, Patti Castro, the interim director of Alameda County’s Workforce Investment Board, said that “Solyndra and other U.S. solar industry manufacturers have been affected by a worldwide plunge in solar cell prices, based in part on huge subsidies Chinese solar manufacturers receive from their government.”

According to the Department of Energy, solar panel prices have dropped 42 percent since January, largely because of $30 billion in Chinese government subsidies to its solar sector. The United States share of the worldwide solar-panel market has fallen from a peak of 43 percent in 1995 to just 7 percent last year.

China floated $30 billion in subsidies to its solar sector?  Wow, that’s so totally unfair.  Why, the US would never stand for such a thing!  That’s why Obama included almost $40 billion in green-sector subsidies as part of his 2009 Porkulus package, of which $17 billion has already been spent. And let’s not forget that over a half-billion dollars of that money got spent specifically on Solyndra alone.

To call this hypocrisy undersells the laugh factor.  This is nothing less that chutzpah, as well as a strange sort of xenophobia in laying the blame at the feet of the Chinese for this administration’s decision to invest in a fiscally unsound enterprise like Solyndra.  China didn’t force Obama to expedite the approval of Solyndra’s loan application over the objections of internal and external auditors.  Hilda Solis now want to make an argument that China’s subsidies were inherently unfair, while ours were — what?  Merely incredibly stupid, and possibly corrupt?

The corruption comes from the proximity of Obama donor George Kaiser to the Solyndra sinkhole.  Kaiser was one of Solyndra’s big investors, and the Obama administration restructured its loans late in the game to favor Kaiser in a bankruptcy.  Kaiser and his Solyndra colleagues were frequent visitors to the White House, which raises questions about the administration’s efforts to steamroll auditors in getting a quick approval of the loan.  The Daily Caller reports today that Kaiser may have been sweetening the pot a bit by dropping some big money into the coffers of a charity favored by the Obamas:

A Daily Caller review of the George Kaiser Family Foundation’s income tax returns found that during the same year billionaire investor George Kaiser successfully secured $535 million in government loan guarantees for the now-failed solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, his private philanthropy donated to a political cause close to the hearts of several high-ranking Obama administration officials.

Kaiser, a major Obama donor, was a frequent White House visitor during the week before the Obama administration approved that taxpayer-underwritten financial deal.

A $10,000 donation to the Urban Health Initiative at the University of Chicago Medical Center appears on the group’s 2009 tax forms. It was also in 2009 that Kaiser successfully sought to lock down a loan guarantee for the green-energy company Solyndra through his two investment vehicles: Argonaut Ventures and the GKFF Investment Company.

While this donation seems small compared to the far larger numbers involved in the Solyndra scandal, it adds to the pattern of possible connections between the Obama administration and the growing Solyndra scandal.

It certainly appears that Kaiser intended to curry favor inside the White House at just the same time that the administration pressed the DoE to approve loans to the already-stumbling Solyndra.  And no matter how much this administration attempts to blame China, the focus of Solyndra will remain on the administration who threw away a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money to help out a big campaign donor.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

So their corruption is better than our’s? What a loser the Won is. SCoMCF

skanter on September 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM

What we really need it MORE SUBSIDIES…

…..CLEARLY (per the Biden logic) the subsidies were not big enough.

488 days, 22 hours, 30 minutes and 44 seconds.

PappyD61 on September 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM

the White House has launched their own investigation into Solyndra’s failure.

Sure they have, and I’m Greta Garbo.

Knucklehead on September 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM

So… the Chinese subsidies occurred after our investment?

Obama is a clown.

faraway on September 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM

At some point, you’ve made enough money excuses.

faraway on September 19, 2011 at 1:30 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHFEcyUNBjg

scary COMEDY GOLD right here…..

PappyD61 on September 19, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Awww. Poor Bammy. That mean, evil China and their endless subsidies ruining our subsidies!

For some reason it reminds me that the biggest boogeyman the National Socialists ever had was the communists. The Germans didn’t really want to fight the Brits or the Americans…. they wanted to get those commies good!

Is Bammy playing that kind of socialist inter warfare?

Vanceone on September 19, 2011 at 1:31 PM

This is the global problem though.

We have to subsidize things, cuz if we don’t our products will be too expensive in other markets because they are subsidized over there.

It’s a huge, global circle jerk. You’d think someone would try to get a handle on it somehow.

lorien1973 on September 19, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Wow! It’s no longer “Bush’s fault!”, now it’s “The Chinese are at fault!”.

This administration never fails to come up with excuses for it’s failures. Too bad they don’t want to investigate their own policies.

2012 cannot come soon enough!

GarandFan on September 19, 2011 at 1:33 PM

To call this hypocrisy undersells the laugh factor.

What else would you expect from a “President” who is now officially an international laughingstock?

pilamaye on September 19, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Breaking: “Obama administration learns that the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours per day. Summit planned on new “night” phenomenon.”

faraway on September 19, 2011 at 1:34 PM

the White House has launched their own investigation into Solyndra’s failure.

everything A-OK
-WH aka valerie jarrett

cmsinaz on September 19, 2011 at 1:34 PM

“Or something”! Hilarious!

Constantine on September 19, 2011 at 1:34 PM

The clearly sounds like a “subsidy gap”

J_Crater on September 19, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Live like the rich. This man got a free cup of coffee.

http://themorningspew.com/2011/09/19/how-to-get-a-free-cup-of-coffee-from-starbucks/

bloggless on September 19, 2011 at 1:35 PM

PATHETIC

truly

cmsinaz on September 19, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Dear Lord, this guy’s so freakin’ bad. It is a wonder how it is ALWAYS some one else’s fault….

HomeoftheBrave on September 19, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Today a blog called Zerohedgefund released an email from a Solyndra insider. Is a lot of info will share some points

http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/solyndra-insiders-words

The Role of Goldman Sachs

Goldman was the main underwriter/adviser…… I think they were exclusive in the role of adviser in the DOE deal and in the proposed IPO. They were also very heavily involved in the larger private equity raises.

On the Obama Plant Visit

With a heavy dose of ironic twists, the WH approaches Upper Management telling them that they would be very interested in a trip by the President. Do you tell them “no, our CEO is headed out the door, and we are *not* going to let you showcase the completion of our Fab that *you* helped pay for?”……. The entire Presidential trip was a rush undertaking, I think there was only about 1.5 weeks between the request and the trip.

Did insiders understand what was happening?

Trouble was brewing a year and a half ago with the first “massive wipeout” equity round, and when Chris Gronet was consigned to a figurehead role in Feb of last year. The co. was run between Feb and June by a triumvirate of Stover (cfo), Gaffney (GC), and (damn i forgot the name of the sales VP who bolted to the roofing company in texas…… was it Kirk Roller?)

Was there a “surprise” collapse at the end? Who walked?

I am very aware that this second funding was being worked on feverishly all the way up until the night before the “mass layoff”. In fact, just a week before the deal was described to me as being in the bag, as to *everyone* on all sides of the deal.

William Amos on September 19, 2011 at 1:37 PM

So their corruption is better than our’s? What a loser the Won is. SCoMCF

skanter on September 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM

The Chinese are competently corrupt. Dear Liar’s regime is incompetently corrupt.

And I’m grateful for the incompetence.

rbj on September 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Wait.

You’re telling me that the PRC is willing to tax its own people to give subsidies to solar manufacturers, who will turn around and sell us energy producing capacity at below market rates, to any US citizen willing to purchase?

Who exactly has a problem with this?

JohnGalt23 on September 19, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Way to go bho, tick off about the only country in the world that will lend all the money you want to spend!
L

letget on September 19, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Solyndra didn’t get subsidies. It got investment credits designed to Win The Future.

angryed on September 19, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Kaiser was one of Solyndra’s big investors, and the Obama administration restructured its loans late in the game to favor Kaiser in a bankruptcy. Kaiser and his Solyndra colleagues were frequent visitors to the White House, which raises questions about the administration’s efforts to steamroll auditors in getting a quick approval of the loan.

Gee whiz, It sounds really bad when you put it that way.

Or any other way.

forest on September 19, 2011 at 1:43 PM

To call this hypocrisy undersells the laugh factor.

I’d laugh if I weren’t fuming. This is just the beginning of the unravel, folks.

John the Libertarian on September 19, 2011 at 1:44 PM

So…we issue debt to the Chicomms to give subsidies to green energy companies – and then pay interest on the same debt to the Chicomms so they can give subsidies to their green energy companies.

No doubt, a prescription for success! Not.

allanbourdius on September 19, 2011 at 1:46 PM

The mask is slipping.

upinak on September 19, 2011 at 1:46 PM

The inquiry was set in motion in response to a petition filed by Alameda County under the little-known Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which provides for additional benefits to American workers when their jobs are lost to foreign trade.

So instead of TARP, the admin will TAAP dance around why it failed.

AH_C on September 19, 2011 at 1:48 PM

This is the global problem though.
We have to subsidize things, cuz if we don’t our products will be too expensive in other markets because they are subsidized over there.
It’s a huge, global circle jerk. You’d think someone would try to get a handle on it somehow.
lorien1973 on September 19, 2011 at 1:32 PM

It’s really the same problem as tariffs, just with the cash flowing differently. In the end, it still has the same damaging effects on tottal global productivity.

Count to 10 on September 19, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Obama puts the ‘Hip’ in hypocrisy.

Chip on September 19, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Wow!!! Wieners problem, that forced him to resign, seems puny in comparison to Obama’s corruption, doesn’t it?

*pun intended*

capejasmine on September 19, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Mark my words. Obama has simply pulled a fast one here.

The DoL has opened an investigation, which gives it cover to subpoena whatever it wants. Once under a subpoena, it will never again see the light of day as long President Obortion is breathing.

Can the Congress subpoena documents already under a federal subpoena at the DoL?

BobMbx on September 19, 2011 at 1:51 PM

You’re telling me that the PRC is willing to tax its own people to give subsidies to solar manufacturers, who will turn around and sell us energy producing capacity at below market rates, to any US citizen willing to purchase?
Who exactly has a problem with this?
JohnGalt23 on September 19, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Well, there are more usefull things they could be…
Actually, it is kind of win-win, isn’t it?

Count to 10 on September 19, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Even better if it prevents us from wasting our own workers on dead-end solor cell technology.

Count to 10 on September 19, 2011 at 1:55 PM

China, the new Bush.

Lily on September 19, 2011 at 1:55 PM

I’m betting they’ve been brainstorming since the day this story broke, and this was the best excuse they could come up with!

capejasmine on September 19, 2011 at 1:55 PM

To call this hypocrisy undersells the laugh factor. This is nothing less that chutzpah, as well as a strange sort of xenophobia in laying the blame at the feet of the Chinese for this administration’s decision to invest in a fiscally unsound enterprise like Solyndra. China didn’t force Obama to expedite the approval of Solyndra’s loan application over the objections of internal and external auditors. Hilda Solis now want to make an argument that China’s subsidies were inherently unfair, while ours were — what? Merely incredibly stupid, and possibly corrupt?

Uh,oh! Hu Jintao to angrily object in 3.2.1

AH_C on September 19, 2011 at 1:56 PM

This WH is more CLUELESS than I ever imagined.

More Chow Mein, please.

petefrt on September 19, 2011 at 1:57 PM

A Chinese fire drill, White House-style.

Drained Brain on September 19, 2011 at 2:02 PM

I see President “blame everyone else but me” Obama is still at it.

sadatoni on September 19, 2011 at 2:03 PM

It certainly appears that Kaiser intended to curry favor inside the White House at just the same time that the administration pressed the DoE to approve loans to the already-stumbling Solyndra.

Kasier said he did no such thing.

All he did was stop by to ask about phone numbers … his hirelings’ secretaries could dial Obama’s hirelings’ secretaries… so that the hirelings could arrange lunch … outside the government environment … so they could curry favor for him.

One has to respect the avoidance of the appearance of conflicts of interest lest a crime be alleged.

Dusty on September 19, 2011 at 2:04 PM

This president belongs in prison.

turfmann on September 19, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Heads up to blink:

Remember your smackdown to crr6 regarding “i-banking”?

Check out the William Amos on September 19, 2011 at 1:37 PM post

http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/solyndra-insiders-words

The Role of Goldman Sachs

Goldman was the main underwriter/adviser…… I think they were exclusive in the role of adviser in the DOE deal and in the proposed IPO. They were also very heavily involved in the larger private equity raises.

Heh. Where is that crr6 anyway? Sorta miss having her around to kick.

AH_C on September 19, 2011 at 2:07 PM

OK, someone has to market a solar-powered Obama clock stat!

Christien on September 19, 2011 at 2:10 PM

The absurdity of industrial wind/solar just got even more absurd in PA with an application to FERC from Symbiotics, a Utah Company, to put in a pumped-storage system in Blair County, PA, to smooth out the erratic power from wind turbines. To smooth out wind energy, the facility will pump water uphill (when the wind blows) for storage until the wind stops blowing, when the water will be released downhill to generate electricity. The article below shows that this renewable push is allowing companies to further destroy natural habitat by adding pumping stations with reservoirs – which use MORE electricity than they produce – to wind farms.

Pumped-storage system helps handle power demand, in The Altoona Mirror

petefrt on September 19, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Ed, You should link Brian Bilbray’s interview with NRO as well. It was not only a financial boondoggle, it was a technical one. Backing thin film technology was a losing proposition.

shooten on September 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

You’re telling me that the PRC is willing to tax its own people to give subsidies to solar manufacturers, who will turn around and sell us energy producing capacity at below market rates, to any US citizen willing to purchase?

Actually I don’t think they got the money by taxing their citizens, I think they got it by cashing the checks for interest payments from the U.S. Treasury.

Stephen Macklin on September 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Apparently, in the mold of JFK, Obama today is claiming that there is a “gap.” Oh, not a “missile gap” like JFK, but rather a “solar subsidy gap.”

Seems the Chinese government has invested $30 billion in solar panel technology, while poor Obama was ony able to scratch together $40 billion (plus another $17 billion already in the pipeline) for solar panel technology from people like Solyndra. Even thought the Chinese also have a built in amount of graft from party officials, it seems that US politicians require a larger portion of subsidies to go to official political and private sector graft.

J_Crater on September 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM

The solar industry is one area where we still have a trade surplus with China. Solyndra’s market was dependent on silicon prices remaining high (their product is silicon light) but the market collapsed and silicon is very cheap so their product was uncompetitive. Important details are being left out of this story.

lexhamfox on September 19, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Important details are being left out of this story.

lexhamfox on September 19, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Despite internal warnings, the WH pushed a $535M loan to a company going bankrupt and run by campaign contributors.

What does that have to do with the price of silicon?

BobMbx on September 19, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Soon Obama will appoint a China czar.

Schadenfreude on September 19, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Although it boggles the mind, it’s starting to seem like the US “Green Jobs” subsidy business is likely more corrupt than its Chinese counterpart.

KGB on September 19, 2011 at 2:39 PM

With their entire economic approach under fire after the collapse of Solyndra — and no small amount of speculation as to the motives behind the Obama administration’s approval of over a half-billion dollars in subsidies for the solar-tech flop — the White House has launched their own investigation into Solyndra’s failure.

Obama: “No, officer, those aren’t mine. I’ve never seen those before. What? By the road? Nah, I never tossed anything by the road, but I bet China did.”

Lourdes on September 19, 2011 at 2:40 PM

I said this before, I’ll say it again:

He’s Basketball Jones.

Lourdes on September 19, 2011 at 2:41 PM

the White House has launched their own investigation into Solyndra’s failure.

Wonder if we’ll ever see any results of the FBI raid? Hello, Mr. Holder?

A $10,000 donation to the Urban Health Initiative at the University of Chicago Medical Center appears on the group’s 2009 tax forms

Wow, 10k, (and campaign donations to maybe be disclosed at a later date), for a half billion? What a deal!

Rovin on September 19, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Soon Obama will appoint a China czar.

Schadenfreude on September 19, 2011 at 2:37 PM

You mean a new China Czar.

His old one is pulling 2% in the GOP primary…

JohnGalt23 on September 19, 2011 at 2:42 PM

So now there’s extended SPECIAL benefits to be paid on top of the (untold, really) millions.

Because China spent 30 billion of OUR money for their stuff to sell back to us for more of our money?

Oh, I get it…

golfmann on September 19, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Any more Hope and Change and we’re going to need some salve.

Bishop on September 19, 2011 at 2:47 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHFEcyUNBjg

scary COMEDY GOLD right here…..

PappyD61 on September 19, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Biden: selected as V.P. because he is nuts, bonkers, gone on safari, out to lunch, a nitwit, craaazee.

He also helps keep the critical focus off Obama among certain “dedicated Democratic voter” groups, people who actually believe Biden makes sense by one association or another those groups will.not.question.

Lourdes on September 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

If we, as a whole, can get this stuff cheaper from China than it costs to make it ourselves, that is a net gain for our country, and frees more of us up to do other things. The Chinese here are in fact subsidizing our purchases!

Tzetzes on September 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Used to live in Fremont and drive by the Solyndra plant every day. They had guys working on building that place literally 24/7 – as it was going up all I could think about was the ruinous cost of construction on that building. Now I know to whom it was ruinous – Me!

If I understand the economics right, the Chinese are using subsidies to undercut our prices, but isn’t the real problem that their currency doesn’t float on the global markets? I have it in my head that reports state that the Yuan is 25% or more under-valued. Just find a way to stop that and all of a sudden we (or the Europeans or anyone who isn’t China) become much more competitive in a large variety of things.

I would love to cut off all of our crony-capitalist subsidies, but then throw a tariff on Chinese goods to make up the difference in currency values until they let the Yuan float. Yeah, I know about the evils of tariffs, but why not do it now? If it forces the field to be level and open, allowing the real comparative advantages to come out, is that a bad thing? It’s not like the Chinese are going to buy any more bonds anyway.

BananaSlug on September 19, 2011 at 3:01 PM

BananaSlug on September 19, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Why would we want to force our people to pay higher prices for goods that not only can the Chinese produce cheaper than us, not only is the Chinese government willing to subsidize the industry so they can sell those panels to us even further below market price, but they are willing to use monies that otherwise could be spent for all sort of nefarious (or non-nefarious… who knows) Chinese schemes?

If the Chiinese government wants to pay to put solar cells on the US power grid, I say go fo it!!

JohnGalt23 on September 19, 2011 at 3:08 PM

If we, as a whole, can get this stuff cheaper from China than it costs to make it ourselves, that is a net gain for our country, and frees more of us up to do other things. The Chinese here are in fact subsidizing our purchases!

Tzetzes on September 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM

that’s the basic idea of Adam Smith, but trust both parties to screw up the free market such that the interest on our borrowing from China subsidizes our cheap prices for consumer items. Bet the real cost is more expensive than just paying full market value for the same products if made at home.

AH_C on September 19, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Quid pro quo docta.

RDE2010 on September 19, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Ya know, if you can’t trust the ChiComs…who can you trust?

Wyznowski on September 19, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Wait….I thought green jobs couldn’t be outsourced?

xblade on September 19, 2011 at 3:44 PM

The wheels on the bus are falling off is what this looks like.

Governments are awful at picking winners and losers… China has been subsidizing gasoline for decades which was great for their government when prices were low but now… now it is solar in the US just like it was wind power in Spain…

The government is buying tulip farms just before their markets crash. And blaming the other guy for buying a smaller farm and undercutting him… it isn’t the amount of the subsidy but the movement of the market you nitwit President.

ajacksonian on September 19, 2011 at 3:49 PM