The Solyndra loan debacle has already cost American taxpayers more than half-a-billion dollars, but it is about to cost them millions more. Each of the company’s 1,100 former employees will receive a package of federally funded benefits worth approximately $13,000 in Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), increasing the Solyndra bill by $14.3 million.
TAA assists workers who have lost their jobs because of trade imbalances due to increased foreign imports or outsourcing.
The Labor Department announced the award on November 18, the day after Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified before Congress that the loan guarantee was apolitical and made entirely on the merits. Chu specifically declined to apologize for the growing scandal.
The newest payout some Republicans outraged. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, said, “The failure was blamed on China, but if you cannot even out-compete U.S. companies, it wasn’t foreign competition that ruined your business; it was simply a failed business model.” Hatch’s spokeswoman Julia Lawless (whose surname best describes the Obama administration) added, “This is an embarrassment and shows that TAA is a program of questionable merit.”
Understandable as their pique is, GOP outrage should not be directed toward the little people receiving a pittance of $13,000 apiece (alongside victims of other trade agreements they largely approved). The outrage is the crony loans this administration steered toward its politically connected friends at the top, which total more than 37 times that amount. Solyndra board member Steve Mitchell wrote an e-mail alluding to an “unnatural relationship” in the White House that had dissolved since the initial grant was made. Primary Solyndra investor and Obama campaign bundler George Kaiser met multiple times with Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s most intimate adviser. As the company appeared ready to fail, the administration apparently violated the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which clearly states that all government loan guarantees “shall be subject to the condition that the obligation is not subordinate to other financing.” If found guilty, that would make the Solyndra loan an impeachable offense. Although House Republicans are investigating the approval process and have subpoenaed all White House documents related to it, Obama simply chose to ignore the subpoena.
None of these expenses — the $535 million loan guarantee, the $75 million the company’s investors will recoup before taxpayers receive a dime, the $1 million Obama paid to Lazard Ltd. in an eleventh hour attempt to save the company, nor the $14.3 million to laid off Americans who were just doing their jobs — would exist if Obama were not simultaneously committed to political cronyism and misguided, job-killing environmentalist policies. But even that is not the greatest outrage.
The greatest outrage is the fact that no one in the administration has been held accountable for the illegal shennanigans that assured this fleecing of the American taxpayer ever took place.