Newly released emails indicate that the Obama administration, after giving solar-panel maker Solyndra a $535 million loan to create jobs, asked the company to delay announcing layoffs until after the crucial November 2010 midterm elections, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. This news galvanized conservatives, who already charge that the administration played politics with the initial loan — their suspicions fueled by the fact that billionaire Obama fundraiser George Kaiser was a major investor in the now-bankrupt company. The Energy Department says House Republicans are trying to turn a discussion about the timing of a press release into a scandal. How big a deal is this new revelation?
This is a "bombshell": This is yet more evidence that the administration "blatantly lied" about Solyndra, says Guy Benson at Townhall. This latest "bombshell" makes it "transparently obvious" that Obama officials steered money to a major donor under the guise of economic stimulus, then tried to "escape or delay electoral consequences for their own abysmal failures" by slipping "the entire development past the American people." Absolutely "shameless."
"Whoa: White House pressured Solyndra to postpone layoffs until after 2010 elections"
It's not that scandalous: Yes, the email does look fishy, says Andrew Restuccia at The Hill. But remember, the note was sent by a Kaiser investment adviser, not an administration official. And the substance of the note is about a press release. Plus, GOP investigators have looked at boxes of documents, and still haven't found any evidence of "political favoritism" in the decision to issue the loan in the first place.
"Emails suggest DOE pressed Solyndra to delay layoff news until after election"
But it has the potential to stain Obama: At first, it seemed the "real scandal" behind Solyndra was the way the Energy Department continued wasting money on the company as it went down the tubes, says Megan McArdle at The Atlantic. "But these days, the real scandal is starting to look like... real scandal." Playing politics with decisions connected to a loan "is not the worst thing that any president has done, or even in the top 100." But it undermines confidence in the green-jobs program, and the administration itself.
"Solyndra's real scandal"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The Hobbit: A disappointing set of movies, but a worthy set of prequels
- Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place
- America is building a Sunni army in Iraq to take on the Islamic State
- The liberation of Barack Obama
- The age of miracles is over — even for the religious
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
Subscribe to the Week