(WASHINGTON) — At the nation’s largest solar energy plant Wednesday, President Obama doubled down on his commitment to government subsidies for clean energy technology and green jobs — and deflected blame for instances when those investments have failed.
“Are you doing your ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy right if that’s what we have to show for it — Solyndra?” asked Kai Ryssdal, host of Marketplace on American Public Media, in an interview with Obama.
The solar energy start-up Solyndra, which had been the poster child of Obama’s initiative, went bankrupt in 2011, putting 1,000 employees out of work. It had received more than $500 million in federal loan guarantees through a Recovery Act program. The loan process is now the subject of a congressional investigation.
“Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn’t gone bankrupt,” Obama said. “But understand: This was not our program per se.”
“Congress — Democrats and Republicans — put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries, it’s easy to raise money for start-ups, but if you want to take them to scale, oftentimes there’s a lot of risk involved, and what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to help start up companies get to scale,” he said.
Obama mischaracterizes congressional support for the program, however. The loan to Solyndra was not part of a program developed by both Republicans and Democrats. Rather, it was entirely funded through the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which did not receive any GOP votes.
Moreover, Obama’s suggestion that Republicans, on the whole, have previously supported clean-energy loan guarantee programs overstates the case, according to several independent fact-checkers.
“Do I wish that Solyndra had gone bankrupt? Absolutely not. And obviously it’s heartbreaking what happened to the workers who were there. When you look at the overall portfolio, is it right for us to make sure that we’re not just cashing in our chips and letting the Chinese or the Germans develop the technologies that we know are going to be critical in the future? I’m proud to say that we’re going to continue to support it,” Obama told Marketplace.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Paul Menser, BizMojo Idaho