E-mails show Chu, DoE staffers claiming “total victory” over WH skeptics of green-tech subsidies program

posted at 8:41 am on August 9, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Last night, the Washington Post published an exclusive on the Congressional probe into Solyndra and other failed subsidy efforts to green-tech companies that may prove more embarrassing than legally damning for the Obama administration — and especially for Stephen Chu and the Department of Energy.  The e-mails released from the Republican side of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee show that discussions of the problematic loan guarantees included senior White House officials, and that at one time Barack Obama’s senior staff demanded that the President be briefed personally on the issues, shortly before Solyndra collapsed.

Did that briefing take place?  The e-mails don’t answer that question, but they do reveal that despite having serious concerns about the claims of the DoE on the loan guarantee program, the White House allowed it to continue, even though they thought Chu and DoE were giving away the store.  The man who ran the loan program, Jonathan Silver, claimed in an in e-mail that Chu “annihilated” the White House economic team’s objections, declaring “total victory” (via Instapundit):

Other e-mail exchanges in the documents appear to show deep divisions between Chu and some senior Obama economic advisers over the program.

After the June 2011 meeting with Daley, Jonathan Silver, the director of the Energy Department’s loan office, celebrated “total victory” over administration opponents. He described in an e-mail to a colleague how Chu came as “close to an annihilation of the economic team’s position as you could possibly hope for.” Silver speculated that Daley had given the economic team “a fig leaf” and that the Energy Department’s victory was cause to “do some serious gloating.”

A draft of Energy Department talking points prepared for the presidential briefing highlights that the program had committed more than $34 billion and asserted that it had created or saved 68,000 jobs. Those talking points forecast little risk from the program, although Solyndra was already showing signs of distress: The department months earlier had negotiated a loan restructuring amid threats that the firm would have to liquidate for lack of operating cash.

“DOE expects that all loans will be repaid,” one presentation slide said. “When loans are repaid, the benefits — including the creation of tens of thousands of jobs — will have been obtained at little cost to taxpayers.”

That wasn’t the prime concern from the White House and Treasury, however.  Chu told his chief of staff in one e-mail that the main objection was that of “unjust enrichment” — that the DoE was dumping too much money into these firms for too little return:

Officials at the Treasury Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget often argued that government subsidies to clean-energy companies gave them too great of a return on investment, or an “unjust enrichment,” Chu wrote.

“Many times, they felt that a ‘better deal’’ could have been brokered by DOE and asked us to renegotiate,” he said.

In other words, no one apparently worried that companies such as Solyndra, Genesis Poly, Abound Solar, Beacon Power, and a dozen or more ventures would go belly-up.  They just didn’t want the owners to make too much of a profit on the taxpayer dime.  On that, we all can agree, but taxpayer money shouldn’t have been put at risk in the first place — especially by people who clearly had no concept of the risk they were taking.

And why should they?  Hey, it wasn’t their money.

The question that arises from these e-mails: did this presidential briefing take place? What was Obama told about Solyndra and the other ventures that took taxpayer money down the drain shortly afterward?  While these e-mails don’t exactly represent a smoking gun, they do show the banana-peel cluelessness of both the White House and the DoE in managing this loan program.


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It reminds me a scene from Goodfellas where the gangsters funnel stolen goods trough one door (a legitimate business) and right out the back into their pockets.

rob verdi on August 9, 2012 at 8:44 AM

And why should they? Hey, it wasn’t their money.

And that’s why government shouldn’t invest money on the taxpayer’s behalf.

The Rogue Tomato on August 9, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Chu will find out what ‘total victory’ feels like on NO-vember 6th…

“COUNT IT!”

Khun Joe on August 9, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Charlie Sheen sure does look different these days….

“Winning!”

//Dr. Chu

harlekwin15 on August 9, 2012 at 8:48 AM

Chu Chu leads the Money train…..right out of the US Treasury.

More failed govt subsidized Solar companies please Chuey.

PappyD61 on August 9, 2012 at 8:49 AM

SoniCHU, along with the rest of 0bama’s cast of characters, needs to go away.

Sekhmet on August 9, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Clueless or just didn’t care how many tax dollars they flushed down the crapper in pursuit of feel-good but nonviable “clean energy”?

swinia sutki on August 9, 2012 at 8:50 AM

This is proof they are not competent to deal with the public’s money and likely not competent for much else.

So what are these people actually good for?

aniptofar on August 9, 2012 at 8:50 AM

This is proof they are not competent to deal with the public’s money and likely not competent for much else.

So what are these people actually good for?

aniptofar on August 9, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Propaganda, Community Organizing(aka sh&tstirring) shakedowns, infiltration of the federal workforce to engage uin partisan idealism, non-creative destruction of wealth potential, and reading a teleprompter…..

need I go on?

harlekwin15 on August 9, 2012 at 8:54 AM

As seems to be the Obama administration culture, more concerned with ‘choosing winners’ by any means possible ( even obfuscation) than anything else.

socalcon on August 9, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Reason #9,556,055 why Obama and his merry gang of thugs, liars and idiots needs to go.

BigWyo on August 9, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Funny how their choice of words and terms remind me of Baghdad Bob and his ilk.

donkichi on August 9, 2012 at 9:01 AM

Reason #9,556,055 why Obama and his merry gang of thugs, liars and idiots needs to go.

BigWyo on August 9, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Think about how smugly definat they are being at DoE with “walking money” for their patronage capitalism….

then think about Pontius Pilate who ran from EPA when he got too chirpy and has now declared a Jihad with the Sierra club on Texas….

We either stop these guys or they are the new collectivist speaking but Crony Capitalist living shakedown throwing aristicracy…..

OWS drones are totally stupid not to see that.

harlekwin15 on August 9, 2012 at 9:02 AM

In other words, no one apparently worried that companies such as Solyndra, Genesis Poly, Abound Solar, Beacon Power, and a dozen or more ventures would go belly-up.

That was the primary intent. The question is whether it was the White House or the DoE that orchestrated it so that Obama’s bundlers were protected and the American taxpayer was left holding the bag.

Happy Nomad on August 9, 2012 at 9:04 AM

But Romney kills women.

docflash on August 9, 2012 at 9:04 AM

And why should they? Hey, it wasn’t their money.

The administration certainly doesn’t believe it is our money. Come Novemeber, I pray they learn they were wrong.

bopbottle on August 9, 2012 at 9:05 AM

He described in an e-mail to a colleague how Chu came as “close to an annihilation of the economic team’s position as you could possibly hope for.”

When there are differences of opinion on policy between senior staffers, there is one person who can break the log-jam. Especially when that person is specifically requested to weigh in on the situation.

rbj on August 9, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Refresh my memory: Was this the presidential briefing by Chu where Obama stopped the slide presentation after only a few talking points and said that he had seen enough?

onlineanalyst on August 9, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Chu earned a Nobel Prize in physics and yet he couldn’t understand this simple equation: $3.00/unit (selling price) – $6.00/unit (cost to manufacture) = $3.00 loss/unit? Duh. Stick to teaching physics, a$$hat.

rcpjr on August 9, 2012 at 9:06 AM

This is proof they are not competent to deal with the public’s money and likely not competent for much else.

So what are these people actually good for?

aniptofar on August 9, 2012 at 8:50 AM

It’s not just DOE. Yesterday an IG’s report showed how IRS employees have been paying out billions of dollars in fraudulent claims to illegal aliens filing phony tax returns — in several cases, sending thousands of checks (for millions of dollars) to the same address.

The level of incompetence and/or outright corruption at every federal agency this administration oversees absolutely boggles the mind.

AZCoyote on August 9, 2012 at 9:07 AM

I’m not being funny or anything but Chu Bacca doesn’t look like he is in the annihilation business…

No doubt there are heads of romaine lettuce that cower in fear of this rabbit food freak.

CorporatePiggy on August 9, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Do love the raised fist with his greenshirts though.

It’s always heartening to realize that even 130 lb midgets can assemble an ecologically and morally correct rapid reaction force out of nerds and get the government to pay for the entire thing.

CorporatePiggy on August 9, 2012 at 9:09 AM

we’re more comfortable with Obama wielding this sort of power because he seems a hell of a lot more effective and responsible with it.

urban elitist on February 8, 2012

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM

The administration certainly doesn’t believe it is our money. Come Novemeber, I pray they learn they were wrong.

bopbottle on August 9, 2012 at 9:05 AM

They are incapable of learning. They must be crushed and left to wander the wastelands drooling and babbling to themselves.

swinia sutki on August 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Chu earned a Nobel Prize in physics and yet he couldn’t understand this simple equation: $3.00/unit (selling price) – $6.00/unit (cost to manufacture) = $3.00 loss/unit?

rcpjr on August 9, 2012 at 9:06 AM

This is no problem. They might lose money on every unit, but they make it up in volume.

/obamanomics

Lost in Jersey on August 9, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Now Bishop’s channeling Rogerb.

Cool.

Bitter Clinger on August 9, 2012 at 9:14 AM

They are incapable of learning. They must be crushed and left to wander the wastelands drooling and babbling to themselves.

swinia sutki on August 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM

“They” also includes a LOT of career “apolitical” operatives in the civil service….

If you could look at the economic impact of EPA with all the math ability the climate scientists pretend they have to understand that highly complex system I’d wager it is in the trillions over the last 20 years….

harlekwin15 on August 9, 2012 at 9:15 AM

/obamanomics

Lost in Jersey on August 9, 2012 at 9:14 AM

They are reduced to calling Romney a time travel using murderer…..

I am pretty certain it is now totally safe to call it by its real name….

“Ogabenomics”….

harlekwin15 on August 9, 2012 at 9:16 AM

we’re more comfortable with Obama wielding this sort of power because he seems a hell of a lot more effective and responsible with it.

urban elitist on February 8, 2012

Bishop on August 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Where has the elite one been lately? Did they get the hammer or did funding run out for the evening troll shift?

Lost in Jersey on August 9, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Ah, Chu.
He’s the guy who wants to drive up the price of fuel.
Don’t worry about how higher fuel costs would affect him:
As he admitted before Congress, he doesn’t own a car.

Limousine liberals. *facepalm*

itsnotaboutme on August 9, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Probably professional pride talking here, but if the administration’s economic team — presumably people on the same “side” as the DOE, all things considered — are advising caution about the way a loan program works, one might want to defer to them.

What’s the point of a “team of rivals” if some of the players are always willing to make phoney-baloney arguments (e.g. “Jobs!”) and the POTUS and Chief of Staff refuse to call them on it?

If I were ever in a position to claim that I had “annihilated” the sincerely proffered counsel of one of my work colleagues, and furthermore felt gloating were in order over it, I’d be concerned about the health of my organization.

DrSteve on August 9, 2012 at 9:19 AM

The pillaging of our Treasury continues unabated. When will enough be enough?

Naturally Curly on August 9, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Enough for us, I mean. It will never be enough for the looters.

Naturally Curly on August 9, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Smoking gun, or banana peel?

Smoking banana peel?

oldroy on August 9, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Nah, Chu is just another body tossed under Owebama’s us. Owebama wants to push blame off onto someone else & the entire DoE is the perfect scapegoat.

Vntnrse on August 9, 2012 at 9:27 AM

From DoE to DoH’!!!

ted c on August 9, 2012 at 9:41 AM

President Obama’s staff arranged for him to be personally briefed last summer on a loan program to help clean-energy companies, two months before the program was thrust into headlines by the collapse of its flagship, the solar com pany Solyndra, records show.

How much of this stuff can swirl around him and he not know about it? If his staff knew, he knew, because even though he may not have been directly briefed, the staff is adept enough at giving him the gist. That’s what a staff is for, to filter, condense, summarize and plan. If the WaPo is implying that the briefing may not have taken place as a means to keep the Mr. Obama from any culpability, well, that’s probably not going to cut it.

ted c on August 9, 2012 at 9:49 AM

half a million bucks per job saved, until the plant closes anyway. What a deal!

The Schaef on August 9, 2012 at 10:20 AM

After the June 2011 meeting with Daley, Jonathan Silver, the director of the Energy Department’s loan office, celebrated “total victory” over administration opponents. He described in an e-mail to a colleague how Chu came as “close to an annihilation of the economic team’s position as you could possibly hope for.” Silver speculated that Daley had given the economic team “a fig leaf” and that the Energy Department’s victory was cause to “do some serious gloating.”

……and then they promptly turned around and sent billions of our tax dollars down the tubes or filling up Obama’s campaign bundler’s pockets.

That picture on this post of this a$$hat gloating while raising his hand in the air should be quickly replaced with him wearing prison blues,bent over in his jail cell with his hands on the floor and Bubba smacking his butt yelling “talk to me like you love me boy”…….

Talk about liars and thieves…..the Obama administration is by far the most corrupt this nation has ever seen on Pennsylvania Ave.

Baxter Greene on August 9, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Yet another example of what happens to an administration full of crazy libs with no business experience and a full belief in Keynes.

RadioAngel on August 9, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Steve Chu: World’s Dumbest Smart Guy

mojo on August 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Smoking banana peel?

oldroy on August 9, 2012 at 9:27 AM

It’s the new choom…

affenhauer on August 9, 2012 at 10:51 AM

This is just another indication of failure of leadership. It indicates an extremely weak backbone on the part of Obama.

-Chu wanted to give away the money.
-Obama wanted to show some successes in the green-energy theater.
-White House economic advisers had financial concerns.

The unreported is likely the influence from outside the White House from environmental groups and how they won the day with Obama. They probably juiced his ego and promised him both saint-hood in the movement and kickbacks in the way of contributions. He took it.

BKeyser on August 9, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Stevie Chu – prime example that you can be ‘intelligent’ and STUPID at the same time.

GarandFan on August 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM

I use to think that fraud and abuse corrections would just be a drop in the bucket but now with all these stories coming out, I think we are talking real money.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2012 at 11:21 AM


Government should not be using my tax dollars to invest in anything! Let’s get back to the basics of what government is supposed to do.

TerryW on August 9, 2012 at 11:21 AM

How much of this stuff can swirl around him and he not know about it? If his staff knew, he knew, because even though he may not have been directly briefed, the staff is adept enough at giving him the gist. That’s what a staff is for, to filter, condense, summarize and plan. If the WaPo is implying that the briefing may not have taken place as a means to keep the Mr. Obama from any culpability, well, that’s probably not going to cut it.

ted c on August 9, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Bull.

The Obama Party, especially the idiot child Obama himself, insists that every corporate leader knows and is responsible for every single thing that happens in their organization.

And then, when this sort of thing happens in theirs, or in places like MF Global, they and the MFM spin, spin, spin that it’s a “big organization” and they “couldn’t have known everything”.

One set of standards. Obama is responsible until the idiot acknowledges on national TV that his calls for CEO responsibility for everything that happens in their organizations are completely hypocritical.

northdallasthirty on August 9, 2012 at 11:47 AM

A draft of Energy Department talking points prepared for the presidential briefing highlights that the program had committed more than $34 billion and asserted that it had created or saved 68,000 jobs.

$34 billion divided by 68,000 jobs comes out to $500,000 per job. Where can I get one?

Officials at the Treasury Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget often argued that government subsidies to clean-energy companies gave them too great of a return on investment, or an “unjust enrichment,” Chu wrote.

So Chu was worried that these companies would earn TOO MUCH money? Had they succeeded, at least they would have paid back OUR money!!!

And these jokers are blaming Romney for using his own money to buy other companies? At least Romney WANTED them to succeed–Bain Capital only made money on companies that succeeded (Staples, Domino’s Pizza, etc.) not those that went bankrupt!!!

Steve Z on August 9, 2012 at 12:24 PM

While these e-mails don’t exactly represent a smoking gun, they do show the banana-peel cluelessness of both the White House and the DoE in managing this loan program.

Call it a smoking banana peel.

Steve Eggleston on August 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

“Smoking gun, or just a banana peel?”

Neither. It’s self-indictment and proof of a need for political violence.

rayra on August 9, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Another delusional liar, an insane communist.

I’m actually getting tired of thinking of new and creative ways to dispose of these worthless dregs. I’m thinking….permanent state of being waterboarded…..see? Running out of ideas here….

Wolfmoon on August 9, 2012 at 12:50 PM

They certainly have changed America’s economy, but not in a good way!!!!

The funding will finance construction of the first phase of the company’s new manufacturing facility. Annual production of solar panels from the first phase is expected to provide energy equivalent to powering 24,000 homes a year or over half a million homes over the project’s lifetime. Solyndra estimates the new plant will initially create 3,000 construction jobs, and lead to as many as 1,000 jobs once the facility opens. Hundreds more will install Solyndra’s solar panels on rooftops around the country.
“This announcement today is part of the unprecedented investment this Administration is making in renewable energy and exactly what the Recovery Act is all about,” said Vice President Biden. “By investing in the infrastructure and technology of the future, we are not only creating jobs today, but laying the foundation for long-term growth in the 21st-century economy.”

“It is time to rev up the American innovation machine and reclaim our lead on clean energy,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “This investment is part of a broad, aggressive effort to spark a new industrial revolution that will put Americans to work, end our dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon pollution.”

The Recovery Act is changing America’s economy

shanimal on August 9, 2012 at 12:51 PM

And why should they? Hey, it wasn’t their money.

Congress needs to make it their money. Congress should minimally penalize them 3x their salaries and benefits if they don’t put them in JAIL for malfeasance.

Whether the DoEnergy, GSA or DOJ — especially party conference money. Having the 9th Circuit Court, the DOJ, the GSA officials/organizers pay personally for these extravagant conferences will stop them. Until the organizers are held personally responsible agencies will keep holding elaborate conferences if the punishment is a hand slap.

KenInIL on August 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

What other justification, other than Chu, is needed for the dis-establishment of the Dept of Energy?
Don’t they need these people on-site to keep the lights burning at McMurdo Sound?
Or, would sending them there be a contravention of some international treaty on despoiling the environment of Antarctica?
Alternatively, we could pack-up the whole kit-and-caboodle to Darfur, where they could conduct a study on the energy content of sand.

So it is written, so it shall be!

Another Drew on August 9, 2012 at 2:46 PM