Solyndra, a manufacturer of solar panels, is bankrupt, which is inconvenient for the Obama administration, which extended half a billion dollars’ worth of loan guarantees to the firm as part of the president’s stimulus effort. The inconvenience extends to the 1,100 Solyndra employees who have just lost their jobs and to the U.S. taxpayers who may be on the hook for the bankrupt firm’s loans. The project was indeed “shovel ready,” as the president likes to put it; unhappily, in this case, the shovel belongs to the gravedigger. Perhaps the gravestone could read: “Another project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
The Government Accountability Office would later single out the Solyndra deal as an example of the government’s failing to fully vet such arrangements before approving the loan guarantees. With all those stimulus dollars burning a hole in its pocket, the Obama administration was overeager to get them spent. “If you don’t have really strong processes in place, and if you’re under pressure to get a lot of these dollars allocated, you can make unproductive decisions and ones that ultimately put taxpayers’ dollars at risk,” GAO analyst Franklin Rusco said. In fact, the administration announced its commitment to the loan guarantees before the required outside reviews were even in hand.
It’s easy to spend several hundred billion dollars of somebody else’s money in a hurry; it’s hard to spend it well or wisely.