Politics

Democrats squirm at Solyndra vs. Bain questions

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Republicans are scoffing at Democrats’ attempts to explain why President Barack Obama’s failed green-tech investments are unimportant but Mitt Romney’s few failures at Bain Capital, an otherwise wildly successful private equity firm, are a scandal.

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter tried out the new tactic during a May 30 appearance on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” when she was asked about the president’s support for Solyndra.

“The president’s not picking winners and losers, he’s making strategic investment to promote clean energy,” she said. “Mitt Romney’s role at Bain Capital was to make profits for his investors and for himself. … There were winners and losers, but Mitt Romney always won.”

Solyndra went bankrupt in 2010 after being given $535 million in taxpayers’ funds, and has since become a GOP watchword for crony capitalism.

The Solyndra money is a small portion of a larger $70 billion effort by the White House industrial policy to displace oil and gas energy with green-tech, including windmills, algae and the Chevy Volt.

Public debate over green-tech waste is damaging to Obama’s 2012 campaign because of the lack of tangible payoff in terms of increased employment.

“Well, no, it’s not fair. … Let’s just take a look at the facts of Solyndra,” Cutter said at the start of a 104-second answer.

On Tuesday, Carney fended off a similar question with a 42-second evasive answer. “Look, there, there, there is the … the difference in that … your overall view of what your responsibilities are as president, and what your view of the economic future is,” he said.

Republicans scoffed at the answers from Cutter and Carney.

“Obama’s investment decisions were infused with politics, based on political optics and not workers’ fates, and the administration chose winners and losers — all while taxpayers held the bag,” said a statement from Jonathan Collegio, the communications director at the GOP-aligned American Crossroads group.

Joe Pounder, the research director at the Republican National Committee. sent reporters a series of quotes from officials showing cooperation between White House officials and Solyndra executives and lobbyists.

“Obama’s deputy campaign manager tried to explain why it was okay that Solyndra laid off 1,100 workers after Obama invested taxpayer money and Obama administration officials sat in on board meetings,” Pounder said.

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