Home / Blog / Article


November 18 2011

Secretary Clueless

Charlotte Hays

Clueless Energy Secretary Steven Chu showed yesterday in his testimony before a House committee why government bureaucrats should not have pots of taxpayer money to invest on their pet projects.

Chu, who copped to having had the final say about the half billion in loan guarantees to the defunct Solyndra, appears to have made the loan without knowing much about—well—Solyndra in particular and investing in general.

I love Michelle Malkin’s description of Secretary Clue’s making a “grand pretense of falling on his sword” but the Nobel laureate’s ignorance about the project is nothing short of astonishing:

The neon-green solar energy zealot told lawmakers in prepared testimony that the "final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind."

But again and again, Chu admitted, those decisions were made with serial cluelessness about the political jockeying, dire financial warnings, legal red flags and conflicts of interest that "everybody (else) and their dog" knew about (as GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas politely pointed out).

Kimberley Strassel notes that Chu employed lots of investing terms. She refers mischievously to him as a green version of Gordon Gekko:

To watch Mr. Chu was to glimpse a day in the life of a political appointee destined for so much more than dusty energy policy. Boring! In Obamaland, department secretaries run the economy, baby!

They swim in a pile of balance sheets—creating, funding and managing America's future, one company at a time. As Gordon might say, Mr. Chu "makes the rules, pal!"…

If the committee members had hearts, they might have had sympathy. After all, it isn't easy going from 30-odd years as a nuclear physicist to the job of world's largest green investor….

The hearing was peppered with references to the outside law firms and consultants now on the government payroll, toiling to facilitate all the deal-making.

Mr. Chu said he'd hired Wall Street firm Lazard (cost: $1 million) just to analyze the refinancing options for Solyndra.

  This is the way bureaucrats invest your money.

One of the concerns Chu expressed yesterday was that China is investing in green energy and will beat us if we don’t allow bureaucrats to pour more money down a rat hole.

But I’d put American companies, if they weren’t so overregulated, up against the Chinese government’s investing any day of the week. If green energy is promising—and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be—then private companies will invest their own resources.

The problem isn’t how well Chu did or didn’t manage our portfolio (he was a disaster) but that he had all that money to manage in the first place.

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
Follow us