Ten days ago, LG Chem subsidiary Compact Power began furloughing workers without ever having produced a single battery for Ford or GM electric vehicles. So far, taxpayers have put $150 million into the Holland, Michigan operation via Barack Obama’s green-tech subsidy program without seeing any return at all on the investment; the only batteries that have been produced were built in South Korea. So what has CP and LG Chem been doing for the last couple of years in the facility that taxpayer dollars built? Mostly playing cards and reading magazines, as the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids reports (via the Weekly Standard):
Workers at LG Chem, a $300 million lithium-ion battery plant heavily funded by taxpayers, tell Target 8 that they have so little work to do that they spend hours playing cards and board games, reading magazines or watching movies.
They say it’s been going on for months.
“There would be up to 40 of us that would just sit in there during the day,” said former LG Chem employee Nicole Merryman, who said she quit in May.
“We were given assignments to go outside and clean; if we weren’t cleaning outside, we were cleaning inside. If there was nothing for us to do, we would study in the cafeteria, or we would sit and play cards, sit and read magazines,” said Merryman. “It’s really sad that all these people are sitting there and doing nothing, and it’s basically on taxpayer money.”
Two current employees told Target 8 that the game-playing continues because, as much as they want to work, they still have nothing to do.
I’ve often written that government doesn’t pick winners and losers — they pick losers, because winners don’t need government intervention. Investors will find winners and share in their success. The reason LG Chem and Compact Power needed government subsidies is because private investors aren’t interested in sinking money into card-playing and magazine-reading facilities.
Let’s remind everyone what Obama said when he made an appearance at this plant over two years ago:
So for years, you’ve heard about manufacturing jobs disappearing overseas. You are leading the way and showing how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States of America.
For example, the workers at this plant, already slated to produce batteries for the new Chevy Volt, learned the other day that they’re also going to be supplying batteries for the new electric Ford Focus as soon as this operation gears up. And that means that by 2012, the batteries will be manufactured here in Holland, Michigan. So when you buy one of these vehicles, the battery could be stamped “made in America,” just like the car. …
The progress we’ve made so far is not nearly enough to do — undo the enormous damage that this recession caused. As I’ve said since the first day I took office, it’s going to take time to reverse the toll of the deepest downturn in a generation. And I won’t be satisfied as long as even one person who needs a job, and wants to work, can’t find one. But what I’m absolutely clear about, and what this plant will prove, is that we are headed in the right direction, and that the surest way out of the storms we’ve been in is to keep moving forward, and not go backwards.
There are some folks who want to go back, who think that we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession. Some of them made the political calculation that it’s better to obstruct than to lend a hand. They’ve said no to tax cuts; they’ve said no to small-business loans; they’ve said no to clean-energy projects.
So far, Obama’s doing a bang-up job of proving that saying “no” to “opportunities” like Solyndra, A123, Ener1, and Compact Power was the right policy all along. Eliana Johnson has the video of Obama’s speech at NRO, so be sure to check that out, too.
Speaking of Obama, what about those “stimulus reports” that were supposed to demonstrate the brilliance of his economic strategy? The Weekly Standard has an update on that, too:
The $831,000,000,000 economic “stimulus” that President Obama spearheaded and signed into law requires his administration to release quarterly reports on its effects. But “the most transparent administration in the history of our country” is now four reports behind schedule and has so far not released any reports whatsoever in 2012. Its most recent quarterly report is for the quarter than ended on June 30, 2011. …
Section 1513 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “stimulus”) explicitly states, “In consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers shall submit quarterly reports to the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives that detail the impact of programs funded through covered funds on employment, estimated economic growth, and other key economic indicators.” (The head of the Council of Economic Advisors, currently Alan Krueger, is appointed by the president, confirmed by the Senate, and works within the Executive Office of the President. He is the president’s chief economic adviser.)
Indeed, the old reports that the administration released begin, “As part of the unprecedented accountability and transparency provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) was charged with providing to Congress quarterly reports on the effects of the Recovery Act on overall economic activity, and on employment in particular.”
Section 1513 of the ARRA further specifies, “The first report…shall be submitted not later than 45 days after the end of the first full quarter following the date of enactment of this Act….The last report required to be submitted…shall apply to the quarter in which the [Recovery Accountability and Transparency] Board terminates under section 1530.” Section 1530 declares, “The Board shall terminate on September 30, 2013.”
Why has the White House broken its own law and refused to report on the stimulus package? After watching the parade of failures it funded, can anyone truly wonder?