Obama's Sugar-Rush Stimulus

by Gerri Willis

President Obama’s cabinet made its way across the country today pushing his new economic plan.

That plan calls for billions more in stimulus dollars for green energy projects.

Some of those projects have been spectacular failures like Solyndra.

Republicans in Congress are still trying to get to the bottom of that mess.

The White House has been painfully slow to release information, and when it does, it's usually late on a Friday night.

So, we're expecting hundreds of pages to be dumped on us any minute now, and get this. The Solyndra factory in Freemont, California was just put up for sale.

In the promotional materials, the real estate broker says it's "a rare opportunity to acquire a world class manufacturing facility in the Silicon Valley."

Unfortunately, it's not that rare at all.

A new investigation by the Wall Street Journal today shows companies received over $10 billion in the past two years for alternative energy projects, but created far fewer than the 100,000 jobs promised.

In fact, many of those companies either laid off workers or closed altogether.

The Journal also reports the companies spent $14 million last year lobbying Washington for all that "green" stimulus money with many of them promoting overly optimistic job creation numbers just to get those dollars.

Here’s one we found. It was a virtually unknown window maker called Serious Energy.

It promised it would hire up to 600 workers in Chicago, but it never came close to that.

It came to national attention in April 2009 when Vice President Joe Biden visited the factory.

He held it up as an example of the success of the stimulus:

“Everywhere I go and everyone I see there are places and stories just like this. Stories of how the Recovery Act in record time has spurred economic growth in this country. Just seeing you here today makes me more confident about the certainty I have that we are going to succeed.”

Well, here's the real story of the Recovery Act. Serious energy announced today it's trying to sell the factory where Joe Biden made his grand proclamation, and the 50 or so jobs left there are now hanging in the balance.

You may be wondering how an unknown window maker in Chicago would be thrust onto the national stage like that.

It turns out, Serious Energy has some serious connections in the Obama Administration.

It was part of the White House's 'Better Buildings' challenge; a $4 billion spending plan the President said would save billions of dollars and create tens of thousands of jobs.

There's more. One of the company's top executives used to work at the Department of Energy and was an advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu (you know the guy who wants $10 dollar gas).

Her bio on her company's website states: "she guided deployment of $11 billion in stimulus funds for clean energy."

Another top executive at Serious Energy is married to a former Energy Department official who was in charge of billions of dollars of stimulus handouts herself.

She's now working on green projects.... for George Soros.

So what we've got here is a mix of crony capitalism combined with virtually unlimited taxpayer cash on demand.

The real lesson of the stimulus is it's time the government and its cronies stopped getting rich off the taxpayer subsidies they helped create.

The Obama Green Follies

by Gerri Willis

Imagine a future in which you could commute to work at 200 miles per hour, walk steps to public transportation and end up blocks from your office door. Don't like high-speed rail? Jump into your electric car.

Don't worry about your home heating bill - you're off the grid thanks to solar panels you financed with tax credits.

Oh, what a world!

But really for taxpayers it's “oh what a nightmare."

President Obama's vision of the future is more Jetsons than real world.

More wishful thinking than smart thinking.

And, his daydreaming is costing us big time.

Let's start with high speed rail; the most ambitious of the ideas. President Obama said it was his dream to provide 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail in 25 years.He committed 10 billion in taxpayer dollars to the idea, but promoters can't get even the first leg of the project completed.

"The train to nowhere," as it’s called in California is pretty much nowhere because the government started the project in the state's Central Valley -- connecting Bakersfield with Merced -- rather than linking Los Angeles and San Francisco -- a route so busy a quarter of the planes connecting the two cities are an hour late on average.

A pricey mistake that is sure to be even more expensive if it ever does get built.

Already estimates of the cost of the rail network has tripled to nearly 100 billion dollars.

Then there's Obama's infatuation with green energy.

We've told you a lot about Solyndra -- the solar panel maker that went bankrupt after receiving 535 billion in taxpayer dollars.

But it's not the only so-called green energy company having trouble staying in business despite federal assistance.

There's Beacon Power, an energy storage company. The government gave the company 43 million of your taxpayer dollars, but rating agency S&P said it hardly merits consideration as an investment giving it a CCC+ rating.

That's what the pros call junk.

By the way, the Massachusetts company is bankrupt leaving the future of its 44 employees up in the air.

All told, a dozen energy companies are struggling after being approved for six and a half billion in taxpayer dollars and five are in bankruptcy: Beacon, Evergreen Solar, Spectrawatt, Eastern Energy and Solyndra.

Look, there is a future for energy in this country, and it's bright!

That's the good news. We are currently going through a renaissance in energy production.

In fact, the U.S., Canada and South America combined could out-produce OPEC. While Middle Eastern countries like Libya and Iraq are producing less oil because of the Arab Spring.

In fact, here in this country, the virtually limitless production possible from Shale and our shorelines could push us close to energy independence.

The bad news for Obama and his band of greenies is they have nothing to do with this renaissance, more to the point they are trying to put an end to it by blocking drilling in this country and stopping the Keystone Pipeline.

The market has found a solution to one of our biggest domestic and diplomatic problems, energy dependence, but this administration is too married to its old-fashioned ideas to embrace the new ones.

Too caught up in the ridiculous idea that we have to feel guilty over our energy consumption.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is traveling to China probably because he thinks the Chinese will be more open to buying their oil than the U.S. is.

C'mon Mr. President, get with the program.

The world is passing you by.

President Obama's Green Giant Mess

by Gerri Willis

President Barack Obama is pictured at West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek, North Carolina, October 17, 2011Long about now you may be feeling a little sympathy for executives at Solyndra - the solar panel maker that went belly up taking half a billion in taxpayer-backed loans with it.

Maybe you feel like we're obsessing too much on the California company. Well, that might make sense if Solyndra was the only taxpayer-backed company that was in trouble - but it's not.

In fact if you take a look at all these green programs -- you'd be hard-pressed to be impressed.

It's not just Solyndra -- there's SunPower - another solar panel maker that got one point two billion dollars from taxpayers - only to see its stock plummet 94 percent - and their debt is higher than their market cap!

What grade should we give SunPower? Fail!

Now a new report from the Energy Department's inspector general shows another program failing to fulfill its mission. That's the weatherization program. Remember cash for caulkers? It was one of the many programs from the white house to stimulate the economy - we threw $5 billion at this idea which would also make homes more energy efficient while boosting the economy.

Recently federal inspectors began checking out whether this program was making good on its promises -- and the answer -- another failing grade!

They found some of the furnaces spewed carbon monoxide - a potential poison for those in the home.New water heaters on the verge of exploding due to missing pressure valves, this according to the Daily Beast. Contractors - not familiar with weatherization - using air blowers - that ended up spewing asbestos around the home! In fact the Energy Department says 14 percent of the projects failed to meet safety or quality standards.

Unbelievable!

All that money and no one bothered to make sure what they were doing was safe? Whether contractors knew what they were doing?

And do you remember President Obama promising to make green jobs the wave of the future?

Well the Labor Department says the multi-billion dollar program only met 10% of its goal of creating 80,000 jobs. Another failure!

And there's more: The National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado got $300 million from you and me. How many jobs did they create? None - in fact they're actually laying off ten percent of its workforce! So why does President Obama and company keep pushing the green projects when they are obviously not working?

He may truly just believe in the goal of cleaning up the environment or it could be the more than $2 million these green-energy aid recipients have given federal campaigns since Obama took office!

President Obama's Big Jobs Lie?

by Gerri Willis

President Barack Obama sits during a meeting of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in Pittsburgh.Today I'm writing about these three words: created, saved and supported.

These are the words the Obama administration has used when talking about the number one issue in the country right now: jobs.

And there's also an evolution in how and why they are using them.

When President Obama started selling the first big stimulus package he said it would create four-million jobs. Lots of shovel-ready jobs we were told. The President used that argument again recently when selling stimulus two:

"It'll create good jobs for local construction workers right here in Denver and all across Colorado, and all across the country," he said.

It's so obvious the trillion dollars in spending did virtually nothing to help the economy. The president even joked about it: "I guess shovel ready wasn't so shovel ready after all," he said.

So with that argument shoveled out the window - the words from the White House and its allies in Congress shifted from 'created' to 'created or saved.'

Nancy Pelosi said this: "President Obama was a job creator from day one. The Recovery Act created or saved over 3.5 million jobs."

Of course we now all know it didn't quite work out that way.

So here we are once again - the President with a new spending package he's selling around the country.

But this time, it's not about saving or creating jobs . Because the White House knows that message is not working.

Now its policies are about 'supporting' jobs, take a listen to the President just a short time ago in Michigan: "Here in the United States this trade agreement will support at least 70,000 American jobs" he said.

So why the evolution? Well, you can easily count how many jobs you create.

Saved? Not so much .. And supported? Not at all.

It's a formula that can't be wrong.

It's a 'non-measurable metric' - as one former White House insider said.

What's clear is current policies on job creation are not working.

The Solyndra scandal taught us that.

Half a billion dollars of your money - with nothing to show for it. Or SunPower - over a billion dollars spent for 15 full time jobs.

Our own analysis of the Energy Department's green loan programs showed the billions of dollars resulted in just a few thousand jobs. Or six million dollars per job.

This administration needs to learn how to do the math -- to analyze their own programs to figure out the cost benefit analysis -- and to abandon programs that don't work -- more stimulus spending is like throwing good money after bad. All of it borrowed from future generations.

The White House needs to stop trying to change the language - and start trying to change the number.

This number: 14 million.

The number of Americans who are looking for work and can't find a job.

A Complete Waste of $1.2 Billion? (It's YOUR Money!)

by Gerri Willis

Solar panels sit on the roof of SunPower Corporation in Richmond, California March 18, 2010You've heard me talk about the ridiculous loan guarantee program at the Department of Energy before - and goodness knows if ever there was a waste of taxpayer money it was the half a billion dollars we gave to a solar power company called Solyndra that then went belly up.

But wait: It gets worse.

Thanks to that "loan guarantee program" - another California solar company is getting more than twice that amount!

SunPower manufactures solar panels, tiles, and even builds ranches. And just before the program expired last month - it got a sweet $1.2 billion in taxpayer money!

So what are they going to do with this money?

The Department of Energy says it will create 350 temporary construction jobs. And 15 permanent jobs!

$1.2 billion for 15 jobs. Let's do the math again - since this Administration apparently doesn't: That comes out to $80 million dollars per job! The company will also be opening up another plant that will surely bring in more jobs. So where is that plant going to be? Mexicali, Mexico!

Taxpayers are giving this company money to help boost the Mexican job market.

How did they even qualify for such a big loan?

Well turns out, it pays to have friends in high places - and what's higher than the halls of Congress?

Democratic California Congressman George Miller has been on the Hill since 1975. He's a big fan of SunPower - which apparently converted an old plant into a major manufacturing facility in Miller's district. His son also happens to work for the company as a lobbyist!

And Miller's not the only fan. SunPower Pac - yes, this company has its own pac - donated nearly $15,000 to democrats in the 2010 elections. The top recipients include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - not a bad man to have on your side! And they've already started doling out funds for 2012.

They also have a fan in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar who after visiting the company last October said, "The path to a clean energy economy starts here, in places like SunPower's research and development facility."

Now who does he sound like?

So Solyndra and SunPower are the companies of the future? Well we all know how well the whole Solyndra thing turned out. Is SunPower's future any brighter?

Not really. First of all, SunPower is facing a host of lawsuits from investors - including a class action suit - claiming the company made false statements to the public.

These lawsuits have yet to be resolved. When comparing stock charts from the last decade, SunPower hit its peak in December of 2007. $133 a share. That's when the company was worth $13 billion. Since then - it's lost 94% of its value - trading at under nine bucks.

That means today it's market cap is $800 million, just shy of its debt - of $820 million!

So let me get this straight, we gave a company with more than $820 million in debt. That's only worth 800 million dollars - $1.2 billion?! It also issued an earnings warning right after they got that government loan!

Once again the math doesn't add up with this administration.

What is it going to take for them to realize these green companies are not the job creators they make them out to be- they're not the wave of the future - they're barely staying afloat!

If you want to help them out so much - you buy stock, you invest...

But this Administration needs to stop picking winners and losers and using our money to do it!

The Dangers of Government Handouts

by Gerri Willis

The trouble with government handouts is that once you get hooked on the free money - it's really hard to give it up.

And it doesn't matter what kind of entitlement you're getting -- just this week, for example, we learned that the executives at Solyndra applied for a second government grant after wasting half a billion dollars in federal loans.

The stereotype of somebody on the government dole is a welfare mother living in urban poverty but the reality today is that it could just as easily be a graduate of Stanford University who holds an MBA -- that's a fair description of Brian Harrison, the CEO of Solyndra.

Government dependency, it seems, is a disease that is spreading. Census data shows nearly half of U.S. households have at least one member receiving some type of government aid or benefit.

That percentage has skyrocketed over the last few decades - only about a third of American households received that kind of support back in the 1980s.

And that 48.5% is four percentage points higher than during the height of the recession in 2008! So we are more hooked on Uncle Sam now than ever.

While it's true that the population is aging and more people are receiving Social Security -- we know they are receiving benefits they've spent a lifetime paying for. But there are other ways that people get public dollars - like ObamaCare. There are also the government's stimulus programs and other benefits. So who gets what?

The average American got more than $7,400 in benefits last year. That's up from under $4,800 in 2000. And under $3,700 in 1990.

The Wall Street Journal points out: Lower income households were the largest share of recipients. More than a third of Americans lived in a home that utilized food stamps, welfare, Medicaid - and other means-tested programs.

Also, more than 14% have someone on Medicare... And nearly 16% are receiving Social Security benefits. Couple all this with record high unemployment - and you get nearly half of American households paying no federal income taxes this year!

And interestingly, the fastest growing proportion of people paying no taxes is in the middle class -- people making $75,000 to $100,000 a year - because of the burgeoning number of tax loopholes and deductions.

Look, this Administration prides itself on "looking out for the little guy" not having the government turn its back on any American in need. But when the President says he needs $447 billion for a jobs bill - somebody has to pay the price - that's us the taxpayer!

The overabundance of handouts and ridiculous spending is putting this country in need - and that could have disastrous consequences for us all.

The Next Solyndra?

by Gerri Willis

You remember the California solar-panel company Solyndra - given half a billion dollars in taxpayer money at the request of the Obama Administration. Now that company - a poster-child for green technology - has gone bankrupt. The administration, as you know, is under fire for giving them our money. You'd think they'd their lesson?

But now - they're handing out more taxpayer dollars - this time to green car companies. And, let me tell you this is more waste fraud and abuse.

The government set aside a pot of $25 billion for the Department of Energy's "Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program" loan program back when George W. Bush was president. President Obama has continued the program -- vowing to put 15 million electric cars on the road.

But in that time -- only $9 billion dollars has been handed out to six companies; and after I show you the rewards for investment -- well you may be glad they haven't given out all the dough!

Let's start with Ford: one of the most profitable automakers in the world - and not a recipient of a bailout in 2009! But since then it has gotten nearly $6 billion from this loan program.

Ford says it helped them convert assembly plants in five states - to produce more energy efficient cars.

And while those changes would be the energy-saving equivalent of taking 388,000 cars off the road, that $6 billion -- in the words of the administration -- saved or created 33,000 jobs. That's nearly $179,000 per job!

Nissan North America has gotten nearly $1.5 billion - creating about 1,300 jobs - that's a million dollars per job! Is this math resonating with you?

The average assembly line worker makes just about $22,000 a year!

And Nissan says they used the money to add an assembly line in Tennessee - a plant that's supposed to be able to build 150,000 Leaf cars per year! Sounds impressive - except for one thing! So far this year - only about 6,000 Leafs have been sold!

A similar story in Delaware with Fisker Automotive. That company has gotten half billion dollars - and created two thousand jobs. And sold zero cars. Not one of its fancy electric cars has been driven off the lot!

And Tesla - check out this fancy ride to impress your loafer-wearing, cappucino-sipping friends - another half billion dollar loan - given to a company that produces $100,000 sports cars.

So taxpayers are giving this company money to make high-priced cars that you couldn't fit your groceries into, much less your kids. Worse, there is a $7,500 tax credit for buying these products - even the sports car! Do people who buy sports cars need a tax credit? I don't think so.

Look the green car program isn't exactly like the program that funded Solyndra.

That program funded tiny companies many with questionable models but this one is funding major companies like ford - and you have to ask yourself - do they really need it?

Once again the administration is picking winners and losers in an industry they've already shown they know precious little about.

I'm not in their boardrooms. But I have been in people's living rooms and around their kitchen tables.

What I've heard: Not only do they not want the government to continue to spend our money, most don't want these electric cars in the first place!

Just because you build them - doesn't mean they'll come!

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