Friday, July 15, 2011

President Obama now claims there’s only $2 billion he can cut out of this year’s $3.6 trillion in federal outlays. He’s not looking very hard. The administration’s trillion-dollar “stimulus” spending spree spread millions in U.S. taxpayer dollars around places like the president’s boyhood home, Indonesia. Money that stayed within the country often wound up in the hands of debt-riddled, fly-by-night firms. This week, the White House continued to stonewall attempts to get to the bottom of where our money has been going.

On Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee delivered a subpoena to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) ordering the disclosure of documents related to the $535 million loan guarantee the Department of Energy gave to Solyndra Inc. This firm has been dear to Democratic luminaries, from Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to the president himself. “The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra,” Mr. Obama said during a May 2010 visit.

The loan was meant to prop up a plant that would produce solar panels, ensuring the country would become more “green.” Instead, Securities and Exchange Commission filings show Solyndra’s books are nothing but red. The outfit lost $518,694,000 between 2007 and 2010 despite the massive infusion of public cash and private venture capital. OMB refused to disclose any documents that would shed light on why the government approved loans to this particular company.

The firm’s private investors include major donors to the Democratic Party, as do other recipients of the $11 billion Department of Energy slush fund used to dole out cash to so-called “clean technologies.” Absent these massive subsidies, the solar power industry would be about as large as the sundial manufacturing industry. Nonetheless, the Obama administration is desperate to paint intermittent energy sources as “the future.” It has no qualms about pouring billions in other people’s money into any product bearing the “green” label, even if that means handing over sacks of cash to foreigners.

The committee’s oversight staff has also turned the spotlight on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding of 320 programs that dole out nearly $100 million in U.S. taxpayer cash to stimulate economies overseas. The Chinese government pocketed $718,000 from taxpayers in a grant supposedly to help the Middle Kingdom meet international air-quality emissions targets. Thailand’s government was handed $700,000 to harness the power of pig flatulence as “renewable energy.” The EPA gave Interpol $150,000 to prop up a program to detect “fraud” in Europe’s carbon-trading markets, which were specifically designed to make global warming hysteria profitable. The United Nations took home $1,226,841 to browbeat Third World countries into pumping pointless ethanol into their gas tanks.

After making deeper inquiries, the staff found a public-relations campaign known as “Breathe Easy, Jakarta” had been listed as costing $15,000. The EPA’s actual expenditures on this project will total $1.5 million. The Obama administration’s outrageous spending at home is bad enough. There’s no reason to spend millions exporting American bureaucracy to countries that are better off without it.

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