CNN White House Producer Alexander Mooney
President Obama Monday said he does not regret a half-billion dollar government loan to the now-bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra and vigorously defended his administration’s policy of providing assistance to similar entities.
“No I don’t,” the president said when asked directly if he regretted the $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009. “Because if you look at the overall portfolio of loan guarantees that had been provided, overall it’s doing well. And what we always understood is that not every single business is going to succeed in clean energy.”
The comments came in an interview with ABC and Yahoo News.
Obama specifically touted Solyndra in a visit to its California headquarters in 2010 but the company closed shop just over a year later, putting more than 1,000 people out of work and leaving the government unlikely to get back all the money it loaned.
Meanwhile, e-mails revealed by a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation indicate at least some members of the administration expressed trepidation over the firm’s financial health before the loan was approved.
Obama brushed aside those contentions in the interview Monday, saying that "hindsight is always 20-20."
"It went through the regular review process and people felt like this was a good bet," he added.
But Solyndra's bankruptcy has renewed criticisms from Republicans that it is unwise to risk taxpayer dollars in start-up companies with outlooks that are far from guaranteed. The Solyndra loan, ultimately approved by the Department of Energy in 2009, was part of a $40 billion stimulus-funded effort to support renewable and clean energy technology.
“If we want to compete with China, which is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars in this space, if we want to compete with other countries that are heavily subsidizing industries of the future, we have got to make sure that our guys, here in the United States of America, at least have a shot,” Obama said Monday.
Meanwhile, top Solyndra executives refused to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month, leading the Justice Department to seek additional oversight in the bankruptcy proceedings.