Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has called for a congressional investigation into the Obama Administration’s green energy loans to start-up electric/hybrid carmakers, Fisker and Tesla. Romney rightfully criticizes the wasteful spending on risky green initiatives that are costing Americans billions of dollars while offering little in the way of job creation, environmental benefits or foreign oil independence. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa) also called for an investigation. And while Romney and Murphy deserve kudos for trying to bring some sanity to the wasteful green policies of the White House, there are many with extreme environmental and political views who are trying to defend the indefensible.
A Politico report quotes a column Romney wrote for the Orange County Register where he blasts the crony capitalism that is being evidenced in deals like Fisker and Tesla. “Alas, like Solyndra, these loans are turning out to be historic opportunities to line the pockets of major campaign fundraisers. Fisker investors, including Al Gore himself, have donated more than $1 million to political campaigns – primarily Democrats,” Romney wrote. “Tesla, for its part, has financial backing from a fundraiser who bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars for the president’s campaign; Tesla’s CEO is also a major Democratic donor who has poured money into Obama’s campaign coffers.” He goes on to state, “the U.S. government shouldn’t be playing venture capitalist. It’s not merely that government bureaucrats are bad at picking winners. The very process invites cronyism and outright corruption,” Well said Mr. Romney, now let’s move on to the defense.
A site called “Think Progress – Green” has a piece titled “If Republicans Try to Manufacture a Clean Energy Scandal with Fisker, These Letters May Haunt Them.” The premise is that some Republicans are guilty of wasteful green energy pork projects, and somehow this is a defense for the Fisker fiasco. The article claims that Republicans are “on a witch-hunt against all clean energy programs authorized by the Department of Energy.” It must be the Halloween season since “Green Transportation Examiner,” David Herron, wrote a piece called, “Is Fisker Automotive Latest Victim of Right Wing Witch-Hunt to Undermine Obama?” Curiously, ABC News (seldom criticized by the left), which reported the Fisker story last week, was categorized with “right wing ideologues” in the piece. MediaMatters also blasts the ABC piece, calling it a “recycled Fox News story,” as if that alone discredits any criticism of Fisker. It’s funny how people who disagree with any of the policies supported by those on the extreme left are all lumped together as right-wing ignoramuses who spend their time with an eye on Fox News while listening to Rush Limbaugh, all the while planning their next tea-party get together.
So, let’s put aside political party affiliations and whether a story is reported by Fox or MSNBC. What will subsidizing Fisker with taxpayer money do for the American people? For that matter, how feasible is the electrification, in general, of America’s auto fleet? One does not have to have a political agenda to be outraged at the crony capitalism and taxpayer waste that we are seeing under the guise of green initiatives. Specifically, Fisker will produce a car in Finland that goes about 30 miles on an electrical charge and then gets approximately 20 MPG. At a cost starting at $97,000, how many Americans will be thankful that this vehicle was created at the expense of American taxpayers? How many Americans feel that wealthy purchasers of $100,000 cars made by Tesla or Fisker should receive a $7,500 tax credit to help them enjoy their new toy? For that matter, why should a buyer of a 40 or 50 thousand dollar Chevy Volt receive $7500 from taxpayers? Worse yet, as I have previously reported, the money spent by taxpayers to bring the Volt to market has gone towards a strategy to switch potential Volt buyers to conventional vehicles at General Motors, like the Chevy Cruze. Why isn’t the environmentally conscious crowd upset that they were duped by the scheme and why aren’t Republicans criticizing the GM bait and switch strategy?
Some have defended Fisker by claiming the loans obtained from the Department of Energy will not go towards Finnish production. The Karma is the first car being produced by Fisker, it will be built in Finland. Where do they think the money is going, into a bank account for future American green jobs? As gullible as some have been in believing that the green initiatives of the Obama Administration are not influenced by crony capitalism and political payback, it is no wonder that the emboldened administration now arrogantly claims that no money lent by America will go towards producing vehicles in Finland. And if anyone criticizes the green loans, they are labeled as right wing witch hunters. Regardless, it wouldn’t matter where the cars were produced, this is not taxpayer money well spent.
America can no longer afford to throw away billions of dollars on schemes that line the pockets of wealthy cronies and political contributors. Democrats and Republicans alike should be held accountable for wasting taxpayer money. Claiming both parties do the same thing is no excuse for the behavior, it should be stopped. And if those that want to help the environment or help wean America off of foreign oil want to further their cause, they should realize that follies like the Fisker funding or the Chevy Volt bait and switch give their whole movement a bad name. Or they can just continue to support gambling taxpayer money on risky ventures to produce $100,000 subsidized vehicles for the rich while criticizing right wing witch hunters who watch Fox.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.