Green Industrial Policy Fiasco

There have been quite a few interesting pieces on Solyndra in the past few days (see here, here, here, here and here for some good examples of recent coverage).  As most of you know, Solyndra was one of the beneficiaries of the administration’s efforts to engage in a green industrial policy, receiving a loan guarantee of $535 million as part of the 2009 stimulus. Solyndra was something of a poster child for the administration’s recovery program. It was building solar cell panels and creating the jobs of the future. It even figured prominently in the video the administration posted on its success stories (here, at 3:08).

The President made a special visit to the firm to publicize his administration’s successes in May 2010. On August 31, 2011, Solyndra announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A week later, the FBI raided Alas, Solyndra in support of an investigation by the Department of Energy’s Inspector General. Since then, White House emails have been subpoenaed and the House has begun an investigation.

It is too early to arrive at any conclusions regarding the political significance of the story. It may be what one should expect with most industrial policy fiascos—a mix of hubris, transfer-seeking, and general ham-handedness. In other words, it might simply be business as usual. In this case, the administration’s seemingly endless desire for photo ops may have been combined with the kind of cronyism that was regularly denounced on the campaign trail but seems to be intrinsic to our system regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge.

4 thoughts on “Green Industrial Policy Fiasco

    1. Eh, I don’t know. There was a time when the anointed one was the media’s darling. Even the events of the past few years have been a bit sobering for the hope and change crowd, I can’t believe they would give this the sustained attention it might deserve.

      Much of this sounds like standard issue cronyism and transfer-seeking wrapped in elevated rhetoric.

  1. One can hope this scandal will help drive some public skepticism toward the heavily subsidized wind and solar boondoggles that are cropping up around the country.

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