Bogus memes die hard, as evidenced by the persistent claims by Obama administration defenders that the Solyndra fiasco was really President George W. Bush’s fault, or at least equally his fault. They’ve have been pushing this argument ever since the federally-backed solar panel went bust in 2011 taking more than a half billion taxpayer dollars with it.
An article on the website TPM today criticizing a recent Mitt Romney campaign ad is the latest to do this. It notes that the ad raises the issue of Solyndra, argues the charges it makes aren’t founded and then adds:
The original clean-energy program was hardly some Democratic scheme: It was created by President Bush, whose administration was already considering Solyndra’s loan application when Obama took office.
The implication that the Bush administration was moving forward with the project is, to put it bluntly, a serious distortion of the facts. While the application was made during the Bush administration, they never approved it and in fact rejected the application in its final days, as the key documents all prove.
As I have noted before:
Democrats argue the Energy Department first received the loan request in December 2006. By January 2009, it was still under consideration. That month, the department’s Loan Guarantee Credit Committee put the project on hold.
In a terse one-page memo, dated Jan. 9, 2009, the committee noted that the “apparent haste in recommending the project meant that certain LGPO (Loan Guarantee Program Office) credit procedures were not adhered to.”
It further stated that: “While the project appears to have merit, there are several areas where the information presented did not thoroughly support a finding that the project is ready to be approved at this time.” It then cited four areas of concern.
First was the lack of any “independent market study addressing long-term prospects for this specific company.” An independent credit assessment had “raised the issue of obsolescence in marketing this project.” Obsolescence? That’s never a good word to hear in a product marketing study.
Second, it noted that the committee had never seen a supposed sales agreement the company had for its product even though an unnamed “outside legal advisor” had. In other words, the committee only had vague assurances that there was even a buyer for the product.
Third, it noted, “There are questions regarding the nature and the strength of parent guarantee for completion of the project.” In other words, the committee wasn’t convinced the project would even be finished.
Fourth and finally, it vaguely noted “concern” over production start “scale-up” at a second Solyndra facility.
The memo concludes by saying “the number of issues unresolved makes a recommendation for approval premature at this time” and sent the project back to the LGPO for “further development of information.”
That [is] a pretty damning — not to mention prescient — analysis of the Solyndra loan proposal. The loan wasn’t ready and Bush’s Energy Department wasn’t going to approve it. If Solyndra had proved to be a success, green energy fans would today probably be claiming the Bush White House had dragged its feet and endangered the project.
The one thing the Bush administration did not do was kill the project outright and it is on that one thin reed that Obama administration officials and their allies have made their case.
Two months after the department’s Loan Guarantee Credit Committee put the project on hold, the new administration had the long-stalled project suddenly fast-tracked. As the New York Times reported:
The Energy Department’s senior staff has acknowledged in interviews the intense pressure from top Obama administration officials to rush stimulus spending out the door.
“We had to knock down some barriers standing in the way to get these projects funded,” Matthew C. Rogers, the Energy Department official overseeing the loan guarantee program, said in March 2009, just days before Solyndra got its provisional loan commitment. Mr. Rogers said Energy Secretary Steven Chu had been personally reviewing loan applications and urging faster action on them.
To reiterate: There were two administrations that were asked to fund this project. One spent years considering it, then rejected it and sent it back to the drawing board. That was the Bush administration. The other was working to get taxpayer money out the door from the moment it stepped into the office. That was the Obama administration.
The responsibility for Solyndra’s failure lies with the current administration, solely.