WaPo gives Chu 3 Pinocchios for his testimony

posted at 10:35 am on November 18, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Energy Secretary Stephen Chu testified before Congress yesterday on the $535 million debacle of the Solyndra collapse, and needless to say, didn’t impress too many people.  He took responsibility for the decision to approve the loan guarantees, but claimed he had no idea how shaky Solyndra was, nor the solar industry in general — two points one might think that a loan guarantor would check before handing over so much cash.  (Hey, if it’s not your money, then why worry, right?)  Chu also pushed the claim that the Obama administration’s green-tech stimulus would employ 60,000 people and “displace” 300 million gallons of gasoline annually.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked Chu on those claims and Chu’s claims of ignorance, and says both are a lot of hooey:

 In any case, the job number and the fuel number are greatly inflated by the inclusion of the loan to Ford. As we have demonstrated, these are not new jobs or even saved jobs — just people who might, just maybe, have a little more job security, in part because of the loan.

Chu’s comments on the unexpected “tsunami” that hit Solyndra are also troubling. The OMB e-mail shows that at least one arm of the government was aware that Wall Street was quickly souring on solar energy and that the tsunami that swept the industry should not have been such a surprise.

He gives Chu three Pinocchios for fibbing, but if you read the whole article — which I strongly recommend — you won’t ask “Why?”  You’ll ask, “Why not a dozen or more?”

Let’s start with the idea that the solar industry collapse came as a shock to the White House.  Clearly, Chu shares one habit with his colleague at the Department of Justice, Eric Holder, in that he doesn’t bother to read memos and analysis from internal analysts.  Kessler includes a memo from the OMB in August 2009, in which the White House’s budget office warns the DoE that the bottom is about to fall out from under the solar-tech industry:

One article mentioned in the e-mail noted that prices had already dropped 40 percent since the middle of the previous year, and “many experts expect panel prices to fall further, though not by another 40 percent.” (It did.)

Another article cited in the e-mail noted both the spurt in Chinese production and the softening of demand in Europe. As it happened, those are two factors that Chu cited in his testimony as causing the unexpected price decline: “There was a large production ramping up, namely in China,” he said. “And secondly there was a softening of the market in Europe.”

One reason for the “softening” of demand in Europe was the collapse of the Spanish subsidy system for green jobs.  Demand for product got artificially inflated when Spain went on a green-jobs spending binge, only to discover that (a) the technology wouldn’t support cost-efficient mass production of energy, and (b) the spending was killing a little over two jobs for every one created.  Thanks to that failure and others in Europe, the demand dropped for solar just as China ramped up its production, itself propped up by subsidies and cheap labor.  More than two years ago, OMB saw the writing on the wall, and yet Chu pressed ahead with his approvals on green-tech loans.

On the jobs claim, Kessler references a Post report from two months ago that exposed the false claims of job creation by the White House, which we also linked at the time:

The Energy Department says that the green-jobs program is still on track to meet its employment goals. It claims credit for saving 33,000 jobs at Ford Motor Co. — about half of the Detroit automaker’s entire hourly and salaried U.S. workforce. The department says the biggest of its loan guarantees, for $5.9 billion, protected the jobs at Ford by enabling the automaker to upgrade plants in five states to build more energy-efficient vehicles. The Energy Department said the loan would “convert” the Ford jobs to “green manufacturing jobs.” …

A Ford spokeswoman said the loans helped “transform what were primarily truck/SUV plants into flexible manufacturing plants capable of building more fuel-efficient vehicles.” That flexibility is key to “helping retain the 33,000 jobs by ensuring our employees can build the fuel-efficient cars people want to drive,” said Meghan Keck, who handles government relations for Ford.

Mark Muro, a Brookings Institution fellow who researches the clean-tech industry, said the agency appears to be counting every employee working in upgraded plants, when the more relevant question is how many workers would have been laid off without the loans.

Basically, the logic behind this claim is that the DoE loaned Ford some cash to make more energy-efficient vehicles, and so every worker there can now be counted as holding a “green job” saved by the stimulus spending.  That’s about as dishonest a claim that can be made under oath without putting one’s self in jeopardy of a perjury prosecution.

Three Pinocchios hardly seems adequate to describe Chu’s testimony yesterday.

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Three Pinocchios hardly seems adequate to describe Chu’s testimony yesterday.

The Nobel Prize is a buffer cuz, he so smart.

ted c on November 18, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Well, Chu didn’t lie about his name when they swore him in. I suppose that’s worth at least a 10 percent Pinocchio nose reduction.

jon1979 on November 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Money? You come around asking about money…

JohnGalt23 on November 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Solyndra. Fast and Furious. Corzine embezzling.
I seriously believe that this administration’s strategy is to overwhelm the American people with more corruption that we can possibly keep up with. A numb population is a compliant population.

Sugar Land on November 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM

seriously believe that this administration’s strategy is to overwhelm the American people with more corruption that we can possibly keep up with. A numb population is a compliant population.

Sugar Land on November 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM

That would only be possible if the MSM REPORTED the corruption.

Washington Nearsider on November 18, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Lots of bad-mouthing of Chu in the scant number of WaPo comments so far-they must all still be waiting for their Talking Points, or they haven’t gotten up yet.

But one O’bot was mighty insulted:

Give me a break! Despite intensive digging, there is still not an iota of evidence–and I mean literally none–that Mr. Chu, much less the president, did anything corrupt or even suspect. So your pathetic denunciations are just a bunch of hot air.

Del Dolemonte on November 18, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Most transparently corrupt and lying administration ever. And that’s saying something.

rbj on November 18, 2011 at 10:56 AM

It really is astonishing. These Obama cabinet secretaries are responsible for massive policy failures that leave people dead (as in Holder’s F&F scheme to drum up public support for gun control), or squander billions of taxpayer dollars (Chu), and nothing happens to them. They sit, under oath, before Congress and lie through their teeth, and nothing happens to them. Nothing.

AZCoyote on November 18, 2011 at 10:59 AM

How is America not enraged by this administration? The lies and corruption that are out in the open are unbelievable, and like all corruption, the stuff you know is about 10% of what is actually going on.

We are watching as a socialist regime tries to fleece the dying embers of our capitalist fire.

The media deserves infinite Pinocchios for being so complicit in the rise to power of this group of pseudo intellectual, left wing radical, hippie leftovers.

You truly have to be a useful idiot to still support the Democrat Party. Although the GOP isnt much better….it still has a few good eggs keeping it viable.

alecj on November 18, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Three Pinocchios hardly seems adequate to describe Chu’s testimony yesterday.

They are giving him the “Big Bang Theory” cushion, he is too big a geek to understand all this political stuff and their implications.

Cindy Munford on November 18, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Here’s all you need to know about solar photovoltaics: It takes more energy to build a solar panel than you will get out of that panel in its useful working life.

Solar has its uses, but not as a primary power source. And ultimately, economics is determined by physics.

ZenDraken on November 18, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Chu – “Well, you know I have a Nobel Prize in Physics … ((mumble mumble but I don’t know jack about economics mumble mumble))” – so there!

dissent555 on November 18, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Most corrupt administration, evah! When they came to power, don’t forget, they were sure they’d rule for the next generation. Conservatism was dead. They had no worries about ever being found out.

GarandFan on November 18, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Obama’s cabinet secretaries are either liars or boobs.

Or possibly lying boobs?

LASue on November 18, 2011 at 11:45 AM

I’m glad they give out Pinocchios for this stuff. That’s from a children’s fairy tale which is quite appropriate.

Kissmygrits on November 18, 2011 at 12:11 PM

In Chu’s ancenstral homeland, they call it “Getting a Triple Big-Nose.”

/

Christien on November 18, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Jiminy Biden and J. Corzington Foulfellow led Chu and the administration to Pleasure Island.

Christien on November 18, 2011 at 12:19 PM

WaPo gives Chu 3 Pinocchios for his testimony?

I’m hoping for Chu to get three consecutive 20-year sentences.

coldwarrior on November 18, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Government for the well connected, of the well connected and by the memo non-readers.
Yes we can! – avoid reading memos that is. It helps the Sargent Schulz defense: “I know nothing!”

Throw Them All Out!

Chessplayer on November 18, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Three Pinocchios hardly seems adequate to describe Chu’s testimony yesterday.

Solyndra at over a million dollars was outrageous enough but why is the “bailout” of J.F.Kennedy, Jr.’s escapade (over a billion dollars worth) going without mention by nearly all of media and certainly not commented on by Congress?


GE’s influence hot and heavy
, I bet.

Lourdes on November 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Three Pinocchios hardly seems adequate to describe Chu’s testimony yesterday.

Solyndra at over a million dollars was outrageous enough but why is the “bailout” of J.F.Kennedy, Jr.’s escapade (over a billion dollars worth) going without mention by nearly all of media and certainly not commented on by Congress?

GE’s influence hot and heavy, I bet.

Lourdes on November 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM

CORRECTION ^^ — should have been “R.F.Kennedy, Jr.’s” (not “J.F.Kennedy, Jr.’s)

Lourdes on November 18, 2011 at 12:55 PM

When it comes to problems, scandals and corruption Obama had nothing to do with anything, was not there, did not know…
but ask him who got Osama…

albill on November 18, 2011 at 12:58 PM

It really is astonishing. These Obama cabinet secretaries are responsible for massive policy failures that leave people dead (as in Holder’s F&F scheme to drum up public support for gun control), or squander billions of taxpayer dollars (Chu), and nothing happens to them. They sit, under oath, before Congress and lie through their teeth, and nothing happens to them. Nothing.

AZCoyote on November 18, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Even more dreadful and implying even more liabilities for our nation, is that I think the handicap we’re witnessing in the Obama Administration’s Cabinet (and Czars) is not so much that they are lying but that they actually believe they are accomplishing something or making reasonable sense.

It’s like in that commercial that Adam Baldwin does for the credit card company where he’s in the cockpit of a major airline and when the pilot looks askance at him preparing for take-off, Baldwin tells the pilot not to worry because he’s played a pilot on T.V.

That’s what and who the Obama Administration, Cabinet members and the Czars, are. They’ve played these roles in classrooms and on committees but they’re not licensed to fly or, in some cases, to operate any moving vehicles.

Lourdes on November 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Solyndra. Fast and Furious. Corzine embezzling.
I seriously believe that this administration’s strategy is to overwhelm the American people with more corruption that we can possibly keep up with. A numb population is a compliant population.

Sugar Land on November 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM

I agree. I think it’s a plan Obama has been developing for most of his life, that “overwhelm America with more corruption than America can possibly keep up with” part. It seems to be his one and only plan, the ruination of this place he so resents and holds in such contempt.

Lourdes on November 18, 2011 at 1:03 PM

AZCoyote on November 18, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Even more dreadful and implying even more liabilities for our nation, is that I think the handicap we’re witnessing in the Obama Administration’s Cabinet (and Czars) is not so much that they are lying but that they actually believe they are accomplishing something or making reasonable sense.

It’s like in that commercial that Adam Baldwin does for the credit card company where he’s in the cockpit of a major airline and when the pilot looks askance at him preparing for take-off, Baldwin tells the pilot not to worry because he’s played a pilot on T.V.

That’s what and who the Obama Administration, Cabinet members and the Czars, are. They’ve played these roles in classrooms and on committees but they’re not licensed to fly or, in some cases, to operate any moving vehicles.

Lourdes on November 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

SORRY, should be “ALEC BALDWIN” ^^ not “Adam Baldwin”…

I’m sleepy, need to exit for today.

Lourdes on November 18, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Another article cited in the e-mail noted both the spurt in Chinese production and the softening of demand in Europe. As it happened, those are two factors that Chu cited in his testimony as causing the unexpected price decline: “There was a large production ramping up, namely in China,” he said. “And secondly there was a softening of the market in Europe.

Really? You mean DC political figures aren’t on top of the latest conditions and completely understand all the market dynamics? That’s exactly why we don’t want them practicing their crony socialism.

PatMac on November 18, 2011 at 1:18 PM