Obama Blames Congress For Solyndra: "Not Our Program, Per Se"
In an interview with Marketplace.org (full audio), President Obama defends using U.S. taxpayer money to invest in solar energy projects. During the interview, Obama was asked about Solyndra, one of the more well-known solar panel companies that failed after receiving a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
However, Obama told Marketplace that "this was not our program." Obama attempts to make the case that this falls on the lap of Congress because they put together the loan guarantee program. Read the transcript below.
Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal : With all respect, it was kind of a gutsy move I think to come to a solar facility. Your administration has staked a lot on clean technology, green jobs. The biggest item most people know about that strategy is, of course, a company named Solyndra, which your administration gave loan guarantees to, that then went bankrupt and has been the subject of many investigations. Are you doing your "all of the above" strategy right if that's what we have to show for it -- Solyndra?
Obama: We are doing the "all of the above" strategy right. Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn't gone bankrupt. Part of the reason they did was because the Chinese were subsidizing their solar industry and flooding the market in ways that Solyndra couldn't compete. But understand: This was not our program, per se. Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries, it's easy to raise money for startups, but if you want to take them to scale, oftentimes there's a lot of risk involved, and what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to help start up companies get to scale. And the understanding is is that some companies are not going to succeed, some companies will do very well -- but the portfolio as a whole ends up supporting the kind of innovation that helps make America successful in this innovative 21st century economy.
Do I wish that Solyndra had gone bankrupt? Absolutely not. And obviously it's heartbreaking what happened to the workers who were there. When you look at the overall portfolio, is it right for us to make sure that we're not just cashing in our chips and letting the Chinese or the Germans develop the technologies that we know are going to be critical in the future? I'm proud to say that we're going to continue to support it.