- - Thursday, October 6, 2011


Conservatives in particular should recoil at the Solyndra story. It is a tale about centralized economic planning gone awry and it is only the tip of the iceberg in President Obama’s government of czars.

For those who care about the Constitution, it should be the poster-boy argument about why our Founding Fathers never wanted an economic-activist government that picked winners and losers by investing in some private businesses but not others. As much as the left decries tax breaks for oil companies, the American right should push for an end to outright subsidies of private business ventures.

The Solyndra story presents a different set of problems for Mr. Obama. Laws were likely broken. Company officials taking the Fifth Amendment and the FBI seizing files is bad political theater — after all, when the FBI comes to take your files, they are not trying to help you organize them. The size of this scandal could well make the case for that rollback.

While that is bad for the president, the greater problem is that Solyndra encapsulates the emerging sentiment that Mr. Obama has no idea what to do about fixing the economy. That lack of faith, more than anything else, will cost Mr. Obama re-election. For conservatives, it should be a rallying cry for rolling back big government.

Solyndra is now a stark metaphor for Mr. Obama’s philosophical and managerial incompetence when it comes to the economy. At the outset of his presidency, he went all in, as they say in poker circles, on government action to deal with our ailing economy. The stimulus plan wasn’t about spurring private achievement, it was about government redistribution, taking from some and giving to chosen others. Cap-and-trade, Obamacare, White House energy policies and now his current “jobs plan” all emphasize government action over private initiative.

It’s already old news that by any objective measure, Mr. Obama’s policies have failed. Gas prices are much higher, unemployment is stubbornly higher, home equity continues to fall, the deficit has tripled and is here to stay. Beyond that, the purchasing power of Americans is eroding as core prices for food jump, notwithstanding the government’s phony consumer price index measurements.

In the last three months, the president’s approval ratings have continued to slide. In California, of all places, it dropped 8 percent. During those same three months, the unemployment figures did not change much, nor the price of gas, nor the deficit.

What changed for many voters was their feeling that Mr. Obama had a handle on our economic troubles. Mr. Obama admits as much when he blames everything and everyone else for his troubles. Then Solyndra came along.

Solyndra is a story about a terrible choice: a miserable investment by the Obama administration in a company that couldn’t succeed. For an ever-increasing number of voters, it is proof positive that Mr. Obama has no business sense. In a down economy, that is a perilous judgment for voters to reach about their president. Worse yet for Mr. Obama, most voters don’t believe that the economy will get better in the year to come.

To the contrary, they understand that the big government solution has failed. Not surprisingly, polls on confidence in our government are at an all-time low as well. It may sound simply partisan to say this, but that poll does seem to go hand-in-hand with the polls for our big government president.

This failure of government presents limited government advocates with a grand opportunity. The only question between now and next November is whether the Republican nominee can make the case, as President Reagan did, that government is not the solution to our problems. Instead, we need a candidate who will set rational goals that we as a nation can achieve not through government fiat but through private initiative.

Thomas G. Del Beccaro is chairman of the California Republican Party.

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