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Posts Tagged ‘green jobs’

16
Nov

Solyndra: It Just Keeps Getting Worse

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy   Print Print

If these reports keep coming out, the thesaurus will have to add Solyndra to there synonyms for ‘debacle’, ‘embarrassment’, and ‘crony’. The Washington Post reports on the latest outrage; How the Obama administration told Solyndra executives to delay announcing their layoffs and bankruptcy until after the 2010 midterm elections:

The Obama administration urged officers of the struggling solar company Solyndra to postpone announcing planned layoffs until after the November 2010 midterm elections, newly released e-mails show.

Solyndra’s chief executive warned the Energy Department on Oct. 25, 2010, that he intended to announce worker layoffs Oct. 28. He said he was spurred by numerous calls from reporters and potential investors about rumors the firm was in financial trouble and was planning to lay off workers and close one of its two plants.

But in an Oct. 30, 2010, e-mail, advisers to Solyndra’s primary investor, Argonaut Equity, explain that the Energy Department had strongly urged the company to put off the layoff announcement until Nov. 3. The midterm elections were held Nov. 2, and led to Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“DOE continues to be cooperative and have indicated that they will fund the November draw on our loan (app. $40 million) but have not committed to December yet,” a Solyndra investor adviser wrote Oct. 30. “They did push very hard for us to hold our announcement of the consolidation to employees and vendors to Nov. 3rd – oddly they didn’t give a reason for that date.”

Good, transparent governance this is not.

The WaPo article finishes by detailing yet again how the American tax payer was taken for a ride by the Obama administration’s Department of Energy and Solyndra investors:

On Nov. 3, 2010, Solyndra announced it would lay off 40 workers and 150 contractors and shut down its Fab 1 factory. The department agreed to continue giving Solyndra installments of its federal loan despite the company’s failure to meet key terms of the loan, and in February restructured its loan to give investors a chance to recover $75 million in new money they put into the company before taxpayers would be repaid.

Lame.

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15
Oct

Solyndra: The Corruption Continues

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy   Print Print

Politico reports on the connection between Solyndra and recent Obama fundraising:

Two Obama fundraisers involved in the controversy surrounding embattled energy company Solyndra ramped up their efforts on behalf of the president’s campaign in late summer, according to the campaign’s voluntary disclosure of its bundler list, released late Friday…

Steve Spinner, a longtime Obama fundraiser of Menlo Park, Calif., raised $500,000 or more during the third quarter, up from $200,000 to $500,000 during the second quarter.

Spinner got a spot in the administration to help monitor the clean energy program that eventually gave $535 million in loan guarantees to faltering Solyndra, which was once touted as a model for business-government partnerships by the Obama White House.

Spinner repeatedly pushed the Energy Department and the White House to commit to a loan before Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to the company’s headquarters in September 2009, according to emails released by the administration last week.

And for those who argue that the Solyndra debacle was just another case of the government making a poor investment…

Two senior Treasury officials said Friday that they had never seen a loan restructuring similar to an Energy Department loan to a failed solar panel maker.

The half-billion dollar loan to Solyndra Inc. was restructured earlier this year so that private investors moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment on part of the loan in case of a default.

Treasury officials Gary Grippo and Gary Burner told a House committee they had never seen that occur in a federal loan. Grippo is a deputy assistant treasury secretary and Burner is chief financial officer at the Federal Financing Bank, which made a $528 million loan to Solyndra in 2009.

The two Treasury officials stopped short of declaring the loan restructuring illegal, as some Republicans allege.

The Solyndra beat goes on…

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The more you read about the Solyndra bankruptcy the worse it gets. Our federal government appears to have just thrown money to favored friends in support of the idea of green energy. Let’s here what some of the Solyndra’s employees, sorry, former employees, had to say about the company and what they did with the infusion of tax payer cash:

Former employees of Solyndra, the shuttered solar company that exhausted half a billion dollars of taxpayer money, said they saw questionable spending by management almost as soon as a federal agency approved a $535 million government-backed loan for the start-up.

A new factory built with public money boasted a gleaming conference room with glass walls that, with the flip of a switch, turned a smoky gray to conceal the room’s occupants. Hastily purchased state-of-the-art equipment ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar, still in its plastic wrap, employees said.

As the $344 million factory went up just down the road from the company’s leased plant in Fremont, Calif., workers watched as pallets of unsold solar panels stacked up in storage. Many wondered: Was the factory needed?

“After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right,” said former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn. “Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy.”

Angry is definitely a natural notion for a taxpayer to feel in reading about this debacle, but as I pointed out earlier, this situation is so ridiculous, one also has to laugh. For instance, this same Washington Post article reports that within a week of receiving their 500+ million dollar loan from the Obama administration, Solyndra executives asked for $400 more. Well, why not!

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Just was reading this Washington Post story on the Solyndra debacle and found this gold in the beginning of the piece:

Administration officials defended the loan restructuring, saying that without an infusion of cash earlier this year, solar panel maker Solyndra Inc. would likely have faced immediate bankruptcy, putting more than 1,000 people out of work.

Even with the federal help, Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1,100 employees.

Sooooo the US government had to hurry up and give money to a failing business. Sounds like good public policy to me! Here’s my guess of one of the possible internal Department of Energy discussions about whether the government should lend Solyndra millions of dollars:

Obama official #1: ‘We have to get this 500+ million dollar loan to Solyndra ASAP!’

Obama official #2: ‘Why?’

Obama official #1: ‘Because if we don’t it will go out of business very, very soon.’

Obama official #2: ‘If that is true than maybe we should take even more time to investigate the company. This might be a bad investment.’

Obama official #1: ‘Shut up! Loan approved.’

Ridiculous, I know, but probably not far from the truth. Maybe I’m also being too harsh calling these fake DOE characters ‘Obama officials’, after all it’s not like the President himself was an integral part in pushing and promoting this colossal boondoggle of tax payer dollars. Oh wait, he was:

President Obama visiting the Solyndra solar plant. The worker smiling beside him no longer has a job.

I’ll have more on this gross waste of American tax dollars soon.

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2
Jul

Top Articles of the Week

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy, entitlements, health care, Top Articles   Print Print

1. ‘Why the Jobs Situation is Worse Than It Looks‘ – Mort Zuckerman, US News and World Report

Zuckerman details how our economy and job situation is worse than even an unemployment rate of 9.1% make it appear. Plain and simple, America’s job market has been faltering for three years and is not currently showing signs of significant improvement that one would expect during a recovery. Zuckerman, an Obama supporter in 2008, believes this administration’s fiscal and economic policies have failed greatly:

The Great Recession has now earned the dubious right of being compared to the Great Depression. In the face of the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policies in our history, we have experienced the loss of over 7 million jobs, wiping out every job gained since the year 2000. From the moment the Obama administration came into office, there have been no net increases in full-time jobs, only in part-time jobs. This is contrary to all previous recessions. Employers are not recalling the workers they laid off from full-time employment.

Click here to find out more!

The real job losses are greater than the estimate of 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, as 3 million people have stopped looking for work. Equally troublesome is the lower labor participation rate; some 5 million jobs have vanished from manufacturing, long America’s greatest strength. Just think: Total payrolls today amount to 131 million, but this figure is lower than it was at the beginning of the year 2000, even though our population has grown by nearly 30 million.

2. ‘Obama’s focus on visiting clean-tech companies raises questions‘ – Carol D. Leonnig, Joe Stephens and Alice Crites, Washington Post

A thorough report on some of the winners and losers of the Obama administration’s green job promotion. The stimulus package was full of giveaways to companies doing green projects and when the government gives away money or tax breaks there are inevitable winners and losers. This report details how many of the ‘winning’ companies had connections to Obama’s campaign and many of the losers did not. When one company making electric car batteries gets federal money and another one doing the same thing doesn’t it’s called crony capitalism:

There was intense competition for clean-tech stimulus dollars. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said his agency reviewed 50,000 applicants and chose 5,000, a 90 percent rejection rate.

For the winners, there was an added bonus when Obama or his Cabinet secretaries dropped by to tout progress. “You couldn’t get that kind of publicity if you devoted all your advertising budget to it,” said Brendan Doherty, an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval Academy who has studied and written about presidential travel.

Obama began his clean-tech travel in March 2009. At a number of companies the president visited, there were connections — not all of them close, to be sure — to his 2008 campaign. Over the months, Obama touted a Florida’s utility’s electric grid project (a company in an Obama fundraiser’s portfolio was doing extensive business with the project) and a Nevada company that generates emission-free power from waste heat, the warmth radiated by machines or industrial processes (an Obama fundraiser is a partner in a venture fund that has a small stake in the company).

3. ‘The McKinsey Health Insurance Survey Was Rigorous, After All‘ – Avik Roy, Forbes

FMFP recommended this article which details the methodology behind the McKinsey Health Insurance Survey which concluded that tens of millions of working Americans would be dropped from their current employer’s insurance and forced onto Obamacare rolls. Commentator S O brought to our attention that McKinsey did not release how they came to their numbers, but hopefully this will clear things up:

Because McKinsey had refused to release details of the methodology used in their work, Democrats and left-of-center writers accused the company of having something to hide. A “keyed-in source says McKinsey is unlikely to release the survey materials because ‘it would be damaging to them,’” asserted Brian Beutler in Talking Points Memo. Senator Max Baucus (D., Mont.) wrote a letter to McKinsey demanding they release the survey’s methodology, with three House committees intending to follow suit.

Well, lo and behold, McKinsey decided to release the details: the full questionnaire used in their survey, along with a 206-page report detailing the survey’s complete results. Accompanying these details was a thoughtful discussion of the survey’s methodology, one that pops the balloon of those who tried to tar McKinsey as some sort of careless, partisan outfit. Despite reporting which implied that McKinsey wanted to distance itself from its own work, the company declared, “We stand by the integrity and methodology of the survey.”

4. ‘The U.S. and E.U.: Have They Ever Been in Such Terrible Shape? – Josef Joffe, The New Republic

Joffe sheds light onto how the Greek crisis is hurting both the EU, Germany and France, and the United States and that the situation is likely to get worse. Europe and the United States have been the saviors for so many facing tough or critical fiscal crisis, but as Joffe asks ‘who will save them?’:

Europe will inevitably buy time by handing over a few more slices of bail-out money to Greece, even though, one day, the country will default. With 50 cents of the euro, it will halve its debt as well as its repayments and thus buy more time. The E.U., meanwhile, still won’t have any idea where it’s going or how to handle the crisis long-term. But what else is new? Twenty-seven governments do not a “more perfect union” make. Certainly not when the natural leader, which is Germany by dint of wealth and weight, sounds such an uncertain trumpet as it has under Chancellor Merkel. Yet what, exactly, is she supposed to do when the chickens of an ill-designed monetary union have finally come home to roost? Neither she nor Sarkozy can undo the mismanagement of the PIIGS in one fell swoop.

Meanwhile, back to the United States—to its still-sinking dollar and rising unemployment. It is hard to think of a time when both the U.S. and the E.U., the two biggest players in the international economy, were in such miserable shape. We are talking about two giants with a total of 50 percent of global GDP. Who will save them?

5.’The Local Government Pension Squeeze – Steve Malanga, Wall Street Journal

We all know that the US federal government and numerous state governments (Illinois, California, Wisconsin a few months ago) are facing rising fiscal crisis. Basically, these entities are spending far more than they are bringing in and they have structural issues (entitlements for the federal government, pensions for the states) that are the wolf at the door. Well, our nation’s city governments are also facing fiscal crises that are already coming to a head. You can’t have libraries, police, and no pot holes when half your budget is going toward retired city workers:

While the national media has focused on state budget face-offs between government unions and governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, municipal officials like Mr. DeStefano are engaged in their own budget warfare. Wages and benefits account for 30% of state general fund expenditures, according to data from the National Governors Association. But U.S. Census surveys show that in the typical town or school district, employee pay and benefits can consume from 70% to 80% of the budget.

Pensions are an enormous part of the problem. While pension payments now consume about 4% of state budgets, many municipalities are already spending 15% to 20% of their finances on pension costs. Earlier this year, California’s Little Hoover Commission, a government oversight agency, observed: “Barring a miraculous market advance and sustained economic expansion, no government entity—especially at the local level—will be able to absorb the blow [from rising pensions] without severe cuts to services.”

Costa Mesa, Calif. (population 110,000) made news earlier this year when it sent layoff notices to 43% of its employees. In 10 years, the city’s annual pension bill increased to $15 million from $5 million and now consumes 16% of the city’s $93 million budget. In nearby Anaheim, pensions already account for 22% of its $252 million budget. San Jose’s pension costs for police and firefighters have quadrupled in a past decade. Without reform, the city estimates that its yearly pension costs, $63 million in 2000, will swell to $650 million in 2015.

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