President Barack Obama called for a second stimulus package during his Thursday night address to a joint session of Congress. That sounds like a dog-bites-man story — an unremarkable request from a president wedded to liberal theories that encourage government intervention in the economy. But in context, this request was truly extraordinary.
The very morning of Obama’s speech, the FBI raided the corporate offices of Solyndra, a Fremont solar panel manufacturer that had earlier in the week announced it is filing for bankruptcy. The FBI agents also searched the private residences of the company’s executives.
According to news reports, the raid was sparked by allegations of misuse of the $535 million loan guarantee Solyndra received from the Department of Energy in 2009 under the Obama economic stimulus program. Solyndra was the first company to benefit from this particular federal loan program, despite being on extremely shaky financial ground at the time that Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the award.
As The Washington Examiner and others have chronicled, Solyndra wasn’t just any stimulus beneficiary. It was special. It was a company in whose board meetings Obama officials had been sitting for months. It was a company that Vice President Joe Biden said was “exactly what the recovery act is all about.” Obama himself had traveled to Solyndra’s headquarters in May 2010 to deliver a glowing speech about the company as exemplifying the success of his clean-energy stimulus programs.
Meanwhile, Solyndra was so shaky that even a $535 million dose of cash was not enough to stave off bankruptcy.
That context makes Obama’s request to Congress last week an incredible act of chutzpah. He stood before the nation and asked for hundreds of billions of dollars in further stimulus, even as Americans learned one of the many ways in which the first batch of $859 billion was squandered.
Taxpayers deserve to know how and why Obama wasted their money on Solyndra. They deserve to know whether it has anything to do with the fact that George Kaiser, a major Obama bundler, was the company’s largest corporate investor. They need to know whether that has anything to do with the extraordinary agreement the Energy Department made, allowing private investors such as Kaiser to be made whole before the government in the event of bankruptcy.
For that reason, we look forward to Wednesday’s hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in which Solyndra’s sweetheart deal will be scrutinized. Obama abused the public’s trust with subsidies for Solyndra. The only question now is just how badly that trust has been abused.