Obama touts Solyndra as having been a “good bet” as new e-mails reveal it, er, wasn’t a good bet

posted at 5:27 pm on October 3, 2011 by Allahpundit

His defense, essentially, is that some loans are bound to go bust. Banks face the same hard reality, of course, and unlike the Energy Department’s green-loans program, they’re not limited to lending to risky clean-energy businesses. In that case, I wonder how many busted loans he’s prepared to tolerate in the name of trying to jumpstart allegedly worthy projects. Just this morning, the Times came out with a new story about a DOE loan (this one thankfully a bit smaller than Solyndra’s) to a geothermal firm in Nevada that’s now struggling with debt after a series of technological setbacks. The DOE apparently knew all about that those difficulties last year but still agreed to partly guarantee a $98.5 million loan to the firm in September 2010. And wouldn’t you know it, the firm has a lot of powerful supporters on both sides of the aisle in Nevada politics, led by Harry Reid.

How many more?

“No I don’t,” the president said when asked directly if he regretted the $535 billion federal loan guarantee in 2009. “Because if you look at the overall portfolio of loan guarantees that had been provided, overall it’s doing well. And what we always understood is that not every single business is going to succeed in clean energy.”…

“[The loan] went through the regular review process and people felt like this was a good bet,” he added.

True, some DOE people apparently did think it was a good bet, including the Nobel-winner at the very top who might be a great physicist but might not be such a swift investor with your money. How good a bet was it really, though? Well, according to new e-mails released today, apparently it was so good that among those questioning the wisdom of the Energy Department’s green-loans program in 2009 was … one of Solyndra’s own investors.

The new documents show a private investor in Solyndra questioning why the federal government, back in September 2009, agreed to put up so much money — $535 million — to help the company expand given the questions about its financial future.

“One of our solar companies with revenues of less than $100 million (and not yet profitable) received a government loan of $580 million,” the investor, Brad Jones, an executive at Redpoint Ventures, wrote in December 2009 to Lawrence H. Summers, then the president’s chief economic advisor, referring to Solyndra. “While that is good for us, I can’t imagine it’s a good way for the government to use taxpayer money.”

“The allocation of spending to clean energy is haphazard; the government is just not well equipped to decide which companies should get the money and how much,” Mr. Jones wrote…

“I relate well to your view that gov is a crappy vc,” Mr. Summers wrote, using a shorthand for venture capitalist. “But suppose we think there are all kinds of externalities to renewable investments,” Mr. Summers continued. “What should we do?”

Incidentally, the e-mails released today were part of a memorandum circulated by Democrats, not Republicans. We’ve reached the point of damage control with this scandal where Obama’s party is now providing evidence of government incompetence as a defense to the more damning charge of possible cronyism using taxpayer dollars. The White House and DOE weren’t corrupt, throwing money into a sinkhole to help out a big donor, you see. They were just … really stupid. And some people at OMB, at least, seemed to know it:

A March 2010 exchange between two officials of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reveals deep skepticism about the Department of Energy staffers in charge of the loan program.

DOE’s ‘system’ for monitoring loans is quite problematic (barely any review of materials submitted, no synthesis for program management, inherent conflicts in origination team members monitoring the deals they structured, etc) and does not seem to be a program priority,” one OMB staffer emailed on March 1, 2010…

An OMB official seemed to think Solyndra may be the tip of the iceberg. “(W)hat’s terrifying is that after looking at some of the ones that came next, this one started to look better,” the official emailed. “Bad days are coming.”

Wrote another: “I am increasingly worried that [Obama's] visit [to Solyndra in May 2010] could prove embarrassing to the Administration in the not too distant future, given 1) what we just heard today from DOE that Solyndra is delaying their IPO at least until the end of the year, and 2) what the auditors said about Solyndra making it through the year absent new financing.”

Another OMB official joked(?) a month before Obama’s visit that he hoped the company didn’t default before The One showed up. That’s how rickety their business was at the time, and yet somehow the company still received a restructuring of its DOE loan — which may end up costing taxpayers as much as $168 million — later that year. But then, none of this comes as a surprise: We already knew that OMB officials were rushed by the White House to sign off on the Solyndra loan in time for The One’s big photo op at the plant. And it was an OMB official who warned in January of this year, shortly after the loan was restructured, that O would have an awfully hard time explaining why the administration had doubled down on what already looked a lot like a bad loan by giving them a second chance on more favorable terms. OMB seems to have had a lot< of reservations about this green-loan program generally, not just Solyndra's specifically. And yet, as recently as Friday, a whole new bunch of green loans worth $5 billion were pushed out the door right before the program’s congressional authorization expired. Like I said up top: How many more will go bust?

Update: One other e-mail I forgot to mention. How come this guy could figure out that a big photo op at Solyndra was a very bad idea given the company’s looming financial implosion but the best and the brightest in the White House couldn’t?

“A number of us are concerned that the president is visiting Solyndra,” Steve Westly, managing partner of Westly Group, wrote in an e-mail to Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on May 24, 2010, a day before the president’s well publicized trip to Solyndra. “[T]here is an increasing concern about the company because their auditors, Coopers and Lybrand, have issued a ‘going concern’ letter … Many of us believe the company’s cost structure will make it difficult for them to survive long term.”

Westly went on to ask Jarrett if he could check with the Energy Department to make sure its officials were comfortable with Solyndra’s finances.

“I just want to help protect the president from anything that could result in negative or unfair press,” Westly wrote. “If it’s too late to change/postpone the meeting, the president should be careful about unrealistic/optimistic forecasts that could haunt him in the next 18 months if Solyndra hits the wall, files for bankruptcy, etc.”

Seven months of financial flailing later, despite having violated the terms of its original federal loan, Solyndra got its restructuring from the DOE.

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

This guy’s living in his own fart bubble. Completely tone deaf.

AubieJon on October 3, 2011 at 5:31 PM

…and in the Friday e-mail release they still didn’t release all. This is the most anti-transparent admin., evah.

Schadenfreude on October 3, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Disagree with the first comment. Osama Obama, the SCoaMF, is a serial liar who somehow believes that people will believe any lie he tells. It worked for him in 2008, so why not now?

It’s only the tip of the iceberg, as we’ll find out if anyone ever has the courage to call the Traitor-in-Chief to account for his many felonies.

Tone deaf? Not really. Just arrogant enough to believe a lie can be transformed into (and unquestioningly accepted as) truth because it comes from his lips.

MrScribbler on October 3, 2011 at 5:35 PM

C’mon, man. The donations-to-earnings ratio was solid.

OhioCoastie on October 3, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Incidentally, the e-mails released today were part of a memorandum being circulated by Democrats, not Republicans.

Is the Downgrade Administration being thrown under the solar powered/hybrid green bus?

We’ve reached the point of damage control with this scandal where Obama’s party is now providing evidence of government incompetence as a defense to the more damning charge of possible cronyism using taxpayer dollars.

Isn’t the same game they’re playing with the Walkergate Scandal?

Hey, they could us this for the campaign: we’re too incompetent to run the country, but give us four more years to try and get it right..

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 5:36 PM

And those goofballs are protesting on Wall Street……

ctmom on October 3, 2011 at 5:37 PM

How many more will go bust?

I’m inclined to say all of them. If they were feasible they would get financing through traditional channels: VC, banks, angel investors. If they went to the government it means they had no other options. If one of these companies doesn’t go bankrupt it’s pure dumb luck!

Meric1837 on October 3, 2011 at 5:37 PM

For him, it was a good bet: somebody else’s money was spent on the loan, his donors were bailed out, and a portion of the money was kicked back to his re-election campaign.

Vashta.Nerada on October 3, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Did he explain why our government is making bets, good bad or indifferent?

Ted Torgerson on October 3, 2011 at 5:39 PM

It’s only the tip of the iceberg, as we’ll find out if anyone ever has the courage to call the Traitor-in-Chief to account for his many felonies.
MrScribbler on October 3, 2011 at 5:35 PM

It’s coming.

listens2glenn on October 3, 2011 at 5:40 PM

The man is a stuttering clusterfark of a miserable failure. It’s that simple.

Kensington on October 3, 2011 at 5:40 PM

It’s as if we voted in the cast and crew from “The West Wing” to run our government.

Will this nightmare ever end?

jdflorida on October 3, 2011 at 5:41 PM

The White House and DOE weren’t corrupt, throwing money into a sinkhole to help out a big donor, you see. They were just … really stupid…

Sounds sloppy to me…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on October 3, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Wake up people! Loaning to a major energy company is not a bad thing! While we’re at it, we could make a profit while solving our energy problems.

/s

MeatHeadinCA on October 3, 2011 at 5:42 PM

I see he’s shifted to the “sh*t happens” defense. Always a winner.

Tim Zank on October 3, 2011 at 5:43 PM

There is no best and brightest in the White House…e.g. Valerie Jarrett.

d1carter on October 3, 2011 at 5:43 PM

This man is on a downward spiral, and like most people, he thinks he’s pulling up.

SlaveDog on October 3, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Anyone get the feeling Obama is trying to throw the election? Hard to believe anyone is really this dumb….

tpw on October 3, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Obama’s other “good bets” ………..

World Series Champs: Chicago Cubs
Super Bowl Champs: Minnesota Vikings
2012 Masters Champion: Himself
NBA Champs: Baltimore Bullets
Five Star Restaurant: McDonald’s 16th and K

fogw on October 3, 2011 at 5:46 PM

C’mon, man. The donations-to-earnings ratio was solid.

OhioCoastie on October 3, 2011 at 5:36 PM

+100
Perfection in commentary.

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 5:46 PM

If a bank CEO had done the same thing as BO, BO would be calling for his head. I am starting to think BO thinks his runny poop doesn’t stink, it smells like lilacs to that narcissist.

David in ATL on October 3, 2011 at 5:47 PM

heh, this coming from the SCOAMF who thought Joe Biden was a good bet.

joeindc44 on October 3, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Obama/Biden 2012: We’re Not Corrupt, Just Really Really Stupid!

I don’t think it’ll fly. Everybody knows now they’re both corrupt and stupid.

AZCoyote on October 3, 2011 at 5:49 PM

This man is on a downward spiral, and like most people, he thinks he’s pulling up.

SlaveDog on October 3, 2011 at 5:43 PM

It’s all fun and games until the wings rip off.

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Allah, I’d say that these were all wise Democratic “investments”. Just look at all the campaign funds they’ve been able to pick up from these ‘new energy’ developers.

Barry makes “good bets” and Barney Frank likes “rolling the dice one more time”.

And people scratch their heads and wonder why the economy is not recovering.

GarandFan on October 3, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Vashta.Nerada nailed it. To paraphrase Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57, “Always bet on Barack.”

Christien on October 3, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Just think…

… this is only the stuff that we know about.

We didn’t know about “Fast and Furious” until people started showing up dead…

(sweet dreams everyone)

Seven Percent Solution on October 3, 2011 at 5:54 PM

For a man who says “Don’t call my bluff” during high stakes poker, yes, going all in on the business equivalent of an unsuited 2/7 was a good bet.

Bishop on October 3, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Based on Obama’s gambling record, it’s a bad bet to let Obama bet any more of our money.

kregg on October 3, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Anyone get the feeling Obama is trying to throw the election? Hard to believe anyone is really this dumb….

tpw on October 3, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Well, until he stops hiding his academic history, we have to assume he’s brilliant.

/

Del Dolemonte on October 3, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Making shif(t?)ty investments with MY money, to line his/DNC pockets.
Me beginning to resent Big Gov’t, folks.

/ for the ‘beginning’ word

My dog’s getting pretty tired of my screaming at the walls, lately, too.
C’mon Issa et al. Stay healthy and let’s give ‘em hell !!

pambi on October 3, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Of course Obama is going to support it. This is where a huge amount of his campaign contributions will come from.

capejasmine on October 3, 2011 at 6:03 PM

This man is on a downward spiral, and like most people, he thinks he’s pulling up.

[SlaveDog on October 3, 2011 at 5:43 PM]

LOL. Fewer and fewer people are thinking he’s pulling up. For example, even people in Illinois are changing their minds about Obama’s piloting ability.

Dusty on October 3, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Another OMB official joked(?) a month before Obama’s visit that he hoped the company didn’t default before The One showed up.

dude?

“quick, clean this mess up before mom and dad get home!”

ted c on October 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM

You mean that portfolio of DoE investments that we aren’t allowed to see???

That’s the one that’s “doing quite well”?

If it’s doing so “quite well”, how about the DoE publish a list of who got what, when and for what without requiring separate FOIA darts tossed into the dark, to try and hit each entity and sub-entity.

Jason Coleman on October 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM

OT: Fox is trying to take down Eric Holder with a special report on Fast and Furious…bottom line…Holder doesn’t always read the Memos sent to him…?

d1carter on October 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM

It’s all fun and games until the wings rip off.

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 5:49 PM

President Icarus?

Kensington on October 3, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Obama’s Brain is still running on AOL dial-up.

Somebody upgrade him.

portlandon on October 3, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Holder doesn’t always read the Memos sent to him…?

d1carter on October 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Loved that excuse. How about, there are so many guns in Mexico from the U.S. that no one will care about how many were walked?

Cindy Munford on October 3, 2011 at 6:09 PM

You mean that portfolio of DoE investments that we aren’t allowed to see???

That’s the one that’s “doing quite well”?

If it’s doing so “quite well”, how about the DoE publish a list of who got what, when and for what without requiring separate FOIA darts tossed into the dark, to try and hit each entity and sub-entity.

[Jason Coleman on October 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM]

Here’s a list.

I’d be interested is seeing a list of applicants, though, too, just to see if there was favoritism, but I haven’t found one yet and I doubt it is accessible to the public without an FOIA.

Dusty on October 3, 2011 at 6:10 PM

“How come this guy could figure out that a big photo op at Solyndra was a very bad idea given the company’s looming financial implosion but the best and the brightest in the White House couldn’t?”

Maybe there are no best and the brightest in the White House…

… Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Seven Percent Solution on October 3, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Anyone get the feeling Obama is trying to throw the election? Hard to believe anyone is really this dumb….

tpw on October 3, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Well, until he stops hiding his academic history, we have to assume he’s brilliant.

/

Del Dolemonte on October 3, 2011 at 6:01 PM

But if we could see his transcripts, that would prove he’s not Dumb, right?

Why aren’t they willing to release them?

We’ve been assured that he’s the smartest President evah, so why aren’t they eager to prove it?

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 6:13 PM

Idiot

cmsinaz on October 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM

If it was a “good bet” his buddy Buffet would have invested in it…

Caper29 on October 3, 2011 at 6:18 PM

OT: Hank Williams Jr pulled from MNF for comparing obama to hitler

ConservativePartyNow on October 3, 2011 at 6:24 PM

…this was a good bet

Since when does his mandate include gambling with taxpayer money? Shouldn’t this kind of “betting” fall to people risking their own money?

Blaise on October 3, 2011 at 6:24 PM

…this was a good bet

Since when does his mandate include gambling with the taxpayer’s money? Shouldn’t this be left to people risking their own money?

Blaise on October 3, 2011 at 6:26 PM

Another partisan jam down, like Obamacare. I sure hope that when the GOP regains control of the Executive and Legislative branches they don’t become a bunch of bi-partisan progressives. That would just…suck. Herman Cain is the best bet to shake up the Status Quo (sure Ron Paul would do it too, but Israel would cease to exist).

kirkill on October 3, 2011 at 6:27 PM

Here’s a list.

I’d be interested is seeing a list of applicants, though, too, just to see if there was favoritism, but I haven’t found one yet and I doubt it is accessible to the public without an FOIA.

Dusty on October 3, 2011 at 6:10 PM

That list is neither complete, nor accurate. Not your fault by any means, but it’s just spin/PR/propaganda.

I’d like to see the actual breakdowns of what was loaned to who, through whom and on what terms. For instance, the loan to SolarReserve is actually a guarantee to the Spanish Bank Santander, and refers to only the Tonopah/Crescent Dunes site, yet SolarReserve has other DoE projects funded through the program, but they aren’t on the list, likewise, Santander has other projects like Cinco Santas, that are getting DoE funding financed through American Banks.

That list has more than a few inaccuracies, omissions and some really questionable math associated with it.

Slipping in the ATVM monies at the end disguises about 20B in DoE loans where we have no clue who it went to or when. Also, there are a number of ATVM loans out there that aren’t in the list.

They’re just making up as they go along with whatever they think they can get past the media.

Let’s also see some media outlet drop dime on the Federal Monies being paid to NV Energy to buy the power from Tonopah/SolarReserve/Santander. What was in the best case a double dip is actually more like a quintuple dip.

The DoE is funding projects where they pay for the start-up of a corp, pay the running expenses of said corp, then buy the output of said corp through another entity that also has it’s running costs paid for by the DoE. DoE->Santander->SolarReserve->Tonopah->Crescent Dunes<-NV Energy<-DoE is just one example.

Jason Coleman on October 3, 2011 at 6:36 PM

It’s as if we voted in the cast and crew from “The West Wing” to run our government.

Will this nightmare ever end?

jdflorida on October 3, 2011 at 5:41 PM

..they woulda been better. At least when Pat Caddell was writing for the show.

The War Planner on October 3, 2011 at 6:42 PM

Holder Knew About Fast and Furious

Ruh roh…..

tpw on October 3, 2011 at 6:50 PM

As far as I know, the federal government had no upside in this deal yet incurred 100% of the risk. This needs to be addressed.blink on October 3, 2011 at 5:53 PM

No upside? Heck this was supposed to work better than inflating our tires. This would have solved all of our energy problems.

Basilsbest on October 3, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 6:13 PM

It’s not the grades, so much as the subjects he studied. Most likely a heavy dose of anti-American, pro-communist studies and professors.

Christien on October 3, 2011 at 6:56 PM

OT: This is the “smartest President eva”?????

He can’t even get his wife’s name right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cgk732vfGQ

Jason Coleman on October 3, 2011 at 6:57 PM

OMG! What else can anyone say?

He can’t even get his wife’s name right.

It’s the damn racist telepromter!

katablog.com on October 3, 2011 at 7:03 PM

President Icarus flying too near Sol(yndra) and didn’t expect to be scorched? Those magic wings are not made of Teflon, champ, even if you think they are.

Does his gal Val know more about investments than he does?

onlineanalyst on October 3, 2011 at 7:28 PM

The DOE apparently knew all about that those difficulties last year but still agreed to partly guarantee a $98.5 million loan to the firm in September 2010. And wouldn’t you know it, the firm has a lot of powerful supporters on both sides of the aisle in Nevada politics, led by Harry Reid.

Had the donations from the company’s big-wigs been just to the Party of the Rat, the loan would have been fully-guaranteed.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2011 at 7:30 PM

It’s all fun and games until the wings rip off.

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 5:49 PM

President Icarus?

Kensington on October 3, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Don’t look now, but President Icarus has no wings.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2011 at 7:32 PM


I just want to help protect the president from anything that could result in negative or unfair press,” Westly wrote. “If it’s too late to change/postpone the meeting, the president should be careful about unrealistic/optimistic forecasts that could haunt him in the next 18 months if Solyndra hits the wall, files for bankruptcy, etc.”

I’m sure Ms. Jarrett’s answer was something like “What, me worry? We can float this junker for 18 months and our bundler who will step into a senior lien position will make a nice profit on the BK”

DrW on October 3, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Here is another intriguing tidbit from a “Corner” reader:

Steve Westly as “a California venture capitalist”:

What an incomplete description. This guy was the Controller of CA for a few years in the mid-2000s and a huge Dem fundrainser. He was the CA Co-Chair for Obama in 2008 and lost the 2006 Dem Gubenatorial Primary to Phil Angelides by 4 points.

But yeah, let’s call him “a California venture capitalist.”

onlineanalyst on October 3, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Little Bammie: “Hey, it’s not like it was my money“.

slickwillie2001 on October 3, 2011 at 8:28 PM

Any bet that doesn’t involve committing your own money is, by definition, a “good” bet.

PackerBronco on October 3, 2011 at 9:51 PM

I’m not so sure he wanted it to succeed. I suspect he really despises this country and that he is trying to hurt it economically as much as he can without being too obvious. Perhaps he thinks the world can be remade better out of economic ruin of the evil USA.

Chessplayer on October 3, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Hindsight is always 20/20

Not so, if you’re a liberal. In their rearview mirrors, everything is reversed. That’s why when they make stupid decisions, their analysis is that they didn’t work because they weren’t stupid enough.

disa on October 3, 2011 at 10:53 PM

I’m not so sure he wanted it to succeed. I suspect he really despises this country and that he is trying to hurt it economically as much as he can without being too obvious. Perhaps he thinks the world can be remade better out of economic ruin of the evil USA.

Chessplayer on October 3, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Of course he does. He just doesn’t want people to catch on before his reelection.

disa on October 3, 2011 at 10:54 PM

I’m not so sure he wanted it to succeed. I suspect he really despises this country and that he is trying to hurt it economically as much as he can without being too obvious. Perhaps he thinks the world can be remade better out of economic ruin of the evil USA.

Chessplayer on October 3, 2011 at 9:57 PM

As long as the media flies low cover for him it doesn’t matter how obvious it is. My faith in the intelligence of half of America has sunk that much.

SKYFOX on October 4, 2011 at 7:18 AM

seemed like a good idea at the time. that’s obama’s defense of this swindle?

abcurtis on October 4, 2011 at 11:23 AM

AP, you really must be more careful. Your conclusary comments leave one to imagine that the Solyndra loan restructure was performed solely as a means to prevent the Resident from looking like an idiot at the threshhold of a campaign season. Well, obviously that can’t be the real reason, because look, they failed, and the Resident’s visit does indeed look very stupid, especially in light of the warnings offered up by folks who care so much about liberal politics, that they admitted they were cashing in on the massive governmental investment, but still suggested it was a bad idea.

And now that you’ve left such a horrifyingly criminal supposition of blatant White House influence hanging in the air vis-a-vis this administration, there’s only one thing left for them to do, and that … AP? Has anyone seen AP?

Freelancer on October 4, 2011 at 8:32 PM