There are still plenty of nagging questions about the collapse of Solyndra, the California-based solar-panel maker that went bankrupt last month after getting $535 million worth of loan guarantees from the Obama administration.
Such as: Did the Energy Department fail to do due diligence? And did the White House intervene inappropriately in pressing for the loan guarantees?
But as Solyndra becomes the newest political chew toy, there’s been no shortage of hyperbole about the affair — especially over what it means for energy policy more broadly. On Tuesday, for example, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who chairs the oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that Solyndra’s downfall proves “that green energy isn’t going to be the solution.”
That’s quite a leap. So here’s a look at five overheated arguments about Solyndra’s bust:
1) This scandal is no big deal. To the contrary, evidence is mounting that there was something irregular about the way the Solyndra deal got greenlighted. My colleagues Joe Stephens and Carol D. Leonnig have obtained e-mails showing that the White House pressed the Office of Management and Budget to hurry up in reviewing the deal (note, however, that this only came after the Energy Department had approved the loan), even as OMB officials voiced concern about being rushed.
Does that prove the White House engaged in cronyism, shoveling cash toward a political ally? Not necessarily.
Democrats have pointed out that Solyndra’s loan process was initiated by the Bush administration and that many key investors were Republicans.
Still, there could have been other reasons the deal was hastened. As a former Clinton energy aide stressed to me, it was arguably a mistake to sell the loan guarantees as job-creating stimulus (the program was expanded as part of the 2009 stimulus bill). “It means you try to force huge amounts of money quickly through processes that aren’t quite ready yet,” the aide said. “It’d be better to have a calmer, steadier source of funding.”