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Solyndra: A cautionary tale of government waste

By Staff | Sep 18, 2011

With unemployment rates at historic highs and anemic economic growth, we can all agree that we need to do something to get our economy moving forward. Some in Washington argue that government should spend more. But if government spending could solve our economy’s problems, we would be in great shape right now.

The truth is, there are smart ways for government to help create jobs, like reining in regulators like the Environmental Protection Agency that are holding companies back from hiring, as well as targeted investments in infrastructure and creating tax incentives for the private sector to hire veterans. But there are also ways that government can waste your money, and that must stop.

This week, for example, we learned very disturbing details about one colossal government failure which should be a cautionary tale for everyone in Washington as we propose solutions to our jobs crisis this fall.

Here are the details.

As part of President Obama’s plan to favor renewable energy sources over all other energy sectors, the federal government had a program to guarantee up to $38.6 billion in loans to so-called green energy companies. The taxpayer-guaranteed loans were projected to create 65,000 jobs.

One company, Solyndra, which manufactures solar panels, received $535 billion in an expedited process without the proper checks and balances. When Solyndra declared bankruptcy, the taxpayers were on the hook for that guaranteed loan and now we’re $500 million deeper in debt.

In an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing this week, I made it clear that we can’t have any more programs like Solyndra, where the government tried to create a market that doesn’t exist and wasted enormous amounts of your money to pursue that misguided mission.

I don’t want to see another Solyndra fiasco, but the whole so-called green jobs program has been a failure by any measure. After dedicating $38.6 billion in loan money to create 65,000 jobs, the Department of Energy can account for fewer than 3,600 jobs. That’s almost $1 million a job. We can’t stack the deck for one industry and squander millions in taxpayer dollars. And, as I’ve said, government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.

This nation is facing a crisis of confidence and our government isn’t going to restore that confidence with any more fiascos like Solyndra.

To create jobs, we need to stop trying again and again to enact failed policies, and instead we must focus on what works and what we can afford. We also need to make sure we put a fairness to our tax system and end the loopholes, offsets and credits. We don’t have to raise tax rates, but we can’t have a company like GE pay nothing in taxes and it’s just not fair that Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Looking ahead, I truly believe we must come together to address both our jobs and deficit crisis and I know we can. I will always put the next generation before the next election, and I know that political proposals won’t cut it politics will divide us, but real commonsense solutions will bring us together.

I know that bipartisan spirit exists, and I will keep working to make Washington stop its political nonsense and start seeing commonsense solutions that can improve the lives of families in West Virginia and all across this nation.