Apparently officials in the Obama administration place more value on their green energy agenda than they do on fiscal constraint and protecting the pocketbooks of taxpayers. The Solyndra scandal, which has left taxpayers on the hook for a half billion dollars, has not stemmed the irresponsible flow of money for green energy projects. Rushing to meet the Oct. 1 fiscal year deadline, federal officials at the Department of Energy are putting another billion dollars at risk by issuing two new loan guarantees, one for a solar tower to be built in Nevada and the other for construction of a solar plant in Arizona.
These two new efforts by the feds to stimulate the moribund solar industry are bringing charges of crony capitalism and political favoritism by critics of the projects, but these criticisms miss the more important point. Federal intervention into energy markets that attempts to pick winners and losers is the real culprit and is bound to fail. It defies economic reason that government officials would continue to pursue the same failed energy policies that have only served to drive up both the cost of energy and add to the nation’s ballooning deficit.
There is little hope that Congress can make meaningful progress is reducing federal budget deficits if it does not stop wasting taxpayer money on the pet projects of special interest groups. Michigan elected officials should also heed the lesson from the Solyndra bankruptcy and cease and desist on giving tax breaks and other preferential treatment to risky ventures such as wind and solar projects. Job creation in the state would be better served by fixing the fundamentals of tax, labor and regulatory policy that is holding back Michigan’s economy. Structural reform may not be nearly as much fun for lawmakers as is handing out other people’s money, but the hard work of structural reform is needed if Michigan is to be competitive in attracting new jobs.