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New York Times on Solyndra: This Scandal Makes Republicans Look Bad, Right?

12:43 PM, Nov 25, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Thankfully, most Americans were probably too busy with the holiday to read the preposterous editorial yesterday in the New York Times. The Grey Lady examined the Solyndra scandal and concluded Republicans are really off base for having the temerity to complain about throwing taxpayer dollars down a rathole in the name of enriching big Democratic donors:

What have we learned? Nobody comes out of this looking good. Not the Obama administration, which appears to have misread the market in its eagerness to proclaim that it was creating green jobs. Not the Republicans, either, as their partisanship turned a legitimate inquiry into a circus of broad accusations aimed more at tarnishing the administration than contributing to a serious discussion of energy policy.

The Republicans hoped to prove that the Solyndra loan was a political favor to wealthy investors with Democratic ties, chiefly George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire. They have not made this case. There were plenty of other private investors, some of them Republicans. In sworn testimony to the committee, Steven Chu, the energy secretary, denied knowing who Mr. Kaiser was when he signed off on the loan in September 2009 and said it had been “made only on the merits.”

Does The New York Times really think that noting Obama administration officials' claims they were unaware of or unswayed by the involvement of large political donors is going to persuade people there's no scandal here? Or that the Obama administration should be given the benefit of the doubt on this? What about the inconvenient fact George Kaiser directly discussed the Solyndra loan with the White House, which had an unusual degree of influence on a program that was allegedly run out of a cabinet agency? Moving on:

Nor have the Republicans succeeded in showing President Obama’s green energy strategy to be a flop. About 40 projects have received loans under a clean energy program authorized by Congress in 2005 and incorporated in the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus package. Only two have failed, Solyndra and Beacon Power, a battery company in upstate New York that borrowed $39 million. These defaults represent just 1.3 percent of the $37.6 billion loan portfolio. The biggest bet to date is an $8.33 billion loan guarantee for a nuclear plant in Georgia.

That's entirely disingenuous. We know there have been problems with loans to a lot more than two companies getting dubious stimulus-funded from the Obama administration -- see Light Squared, Fisker, Open Range, et al. (They weren't all limited to the Department of Energy program either.) What about the fact that the Energy Department's Inspector General has "launched more than 100 criminal investigations related to 2009 economic stimulus spending"? What about the fact that 80 percent of all $20.5 billion in Department of Energy loans that were handed out went to companies tied to top Obama donors? What about the fact that these billions of dollars in loans were supposed to create jobs? How many did they actually create relative to their taxpayer investment? These would seem to be salient questions.

The idea that The New York Times is invested in finding creative and unconvincing ways to point the finger at Republicans—rather than holding the administration that is actually in power responsible—is very telling about where the paper's editorials are coming from these days.

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