There’s a legitimate debate to have about Solyndra and green industrial policy, but it’s not the debate over imaginary corruption we’ve been having. For example, economists know public investments can crowd out private investment. Romney once tried to make this case, claiming handouts in Obama’s stimulus to firms like Solyndra were “killing” solar energy. But he was wrong. Solar power has increased over 600% since 2009, partly because of the low prices that doomed Solyndra. The installer Solar City is now preparing to go public. As I explain in my new book, The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, the $90 billion for clean energy in the stimulus actually crowded in private investment, luring an additional $100 billion in matching funds from the sidelines…

This is the real debate: Do we really want clean energy? Government subsidizes lots of things, from agriculture to postal delivery, and it has jump-started many industries, from aerospace to info tech. Republicans accuse Obama of “picking winners and losers,” but what he has picked is the game itself, reducing fossil fuels, which will reduce our emissions and our vulnerability to price shocks. The stimulus poured unprecedented cash into wind, solar and geothermal power, electric vehicles, biofuels and other clean-transportation plays. It subsidized hundreds of technological and entrepreneurial strategies so the market could pick the winners and losers.