That’s the green energy company that received $535 million in taxpayer-funded loan guarantees in September of 2009 from the Obama administration.
Announcing the loans, then Vice President Joe Biden declared, “Part of our plan is to make sure that . . . we are creating jobs of the future, like the ones you are creating. Jobs you can raise a family on … jobs that will serve as a foundation for a strong American economy. Which is why it is so important we invest in Solyndra. . . . Not just to get through today, but to power our way to a much brighter tomorrow.”
In a subsequent visit to Solyndra’s plant in California, President Obama said “The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.”
Five months later, in November of 2010, Solyndra laid off 20% of its workers. And on Sept. 6, 2011, Solyndra closed its doors, filed for bankruptcy, sticking taxpayers with its debt.
Did liberals learn from this experience? Nope.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has made a load of dubious investments driven by ideology, not financial analysis with taxpayer dollars.
Take Cuomo’s Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which is saddled with over $10 billion in debt. It has had awful returns on its private sector investments.
In 2013, for example, ESDC aided 201 companies statewide, which resulted in 12,355 jobs being retained and 2,424 jobs created. Impressive results? I think not. Do the math: $1.3 billion in expenditures divided by 14,779 total jobs saved and created equals $87,962 spent for each job. That’s a lot of money per job.
Cuomo’s biggest investment boondoggle appears to be his “Buffalo Billion” program that he promised would revitalize Western New York.
In 2013, Cuomo, to much fanfare, announced that the state had invested $959 million to develop plants in Buffalo, Syracuse and Plattsburgh that were owned by the non-profit Fort Schuyler Management Corporation.
The key participant, the Buffalo Solar City facility that is operated by Elon Musk’s Tesla, Inc., has received $750 million in state subsidies.
After six years, the governor’s ambitious plans appear to have gone bust. In early November, it was revealed that the state “wrote down more than $1 billion in economic development investments on some high-tech projects across upstate New York, including the solar-panel factory in Buffalo operated by Tesla, Inc.”
Instead of creating thousands of new jobs as promised, Solar City issued pink slips in January. And the company is not expected to sell this year the 10,000 megawatts of solar panels it projected. (In the 2nd quarter, Solar City installed a measly 29 megawatts of solar panels.)
The October issue of Vanity Fair reported that the state “issued a series of 10 amendments that watered down the requirements Solar City must meet in exchange for the $1 lease on the Buffalo factory. The 1,460 ‘high-tech’ jobs at the factory became just plain old jobs. . . .The agreement to employ 900 people at the factory within two years shrank to 500.
“And the timing for the additional jobs were extended to 10 years after the factory was completed—at which point the lease would also be expiring.
“One Albany lobbyist reflecting upon the “disaster” said Solar City is “a poster child for why government giveaways to big companies don’t work.”
A laid-off Solar City employee, Dale Witherell, insisted in a letter to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, that “New York State taxpayers deserved more from a $750 million investment. Tesla, he added “had done a tremendous job providing smoke and mirrors and empty promises to the area.”
E.J. McMahon, of the Empire Center for Public Policy, noted, “This is black and white evidence that they wasted $1.2 billion of taxpayer money.”
As for Governor Cuomo, he appears to be delusional. During a visit to Buffalo earlier this year, he told media outlets that he was satisfied with Solar City and that they were “ahead of schedule.”
Like Barack Obama, Andrew Cuomo wears rose-colored glasses when it comes to investing taxpayer’s money into farfetched solar energy projects.
Before he squanders more of our money, Cuomo should heed the words of Democratic economist Larry Summers, who served for a time as Obama’s Chairman of the National Economic Council, “The government is a crappy venture capitalist.”
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