SEPTEMBER 06, 2012
Here’s an amusing example of how inefficient government can be; a proposed law to cut waste in a scandal-plagued green technology program at the Department of Energy (DOE) would cost about $1 million to implement.
This may seem laughable, but it’s the reality of how the monstrous U.S. government functions. Curbing waste in a dubious program that’s already blown hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars doesn’t come cheap. In fact, it could cost big bucks. At least that’s the case in this particular situation.
Here is a little history; President Obama’s disastrous stimulus created a DOE program that gives money to companies investing in “innovative clean technologies.” As of December 2011 the DOE guaranteed more than two dozen projects totaling $16.1 billion. Among the recipients was a fly by night northern California solar panel firm named Solyndra. Judicial Watch has sued the DOE and Office of Management and Budget to obtain records related to Solyndra.
The company was bankrolled by Obama fundraiser George Kaiser before it abruptly folded after getting $535 million from the DOE to promote green energy. More than 1,000 workers got laid off and American taxpayers got stiffed for the half a billion dollars. After it blew up, the shady deal came under fire because Obama appointees at the DOE fast-tracked it despite the “serious concerns” of U.S. Treasury officials. Treasury is involved because it’s the agency that actually doles out the cash and it’s supposed to vet and approve such projects.
In an effort to prevent a repeat of the Solyndra scandal, a Michigan congressman introduced a bill to tighten oversight of the DOE’s controversial green energy loan program. Keep in mind that, in the Solyndra case, the money is gone for good because the startup firm went bankrupt and not a dime will ever be recovered. The bill is appropriately called the No More Solyndras Act and it was introduced in the House in late July.
The measure would set much-needed restrictions on how the DOE distributes money, requiring the Treasury Department to review and scrutinize the green loans. It would also force the DOE to consult with Treasury officials on any changes in the terms of the program and impose administrative sanctions and hefty civil penalties on federal officials who violate rules and requirements. Of interesting note is that no heads rolled and there were no one got in trouble over Solyndra.
This may not completely solve the countless problems in this DOE loan program, but it’s a start never the less. But there is a catch; it would cost about $1 million to implement the law if it passes, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the nonpartisan agency that provides Congress with crucial economic data on pending legislation. Why not save taxpayers a bundle by pulling the plug on the president’s failed “clean technologies” experiment?
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