In Hawaii today, according to an Associated Press dispatch filed by Ben Feller, President Barack Obama is reported to have told supporters that, in Feller’s words, “everything they worked for and that the country stands for is on the line in his 2012 re-election bid.”
Well, if what those donors have “worked” for is an inside track to government money, and if what the country stands for is crony capitalism, the President is right. The following excerpt from Peter Schweizer’s new book, “Throw Them All Out,” provides the details in just one commercial arena (via The Daily Beast; HTs to Doug Ross, Conservatives4Palin, Victory Chronicles, and Heritage; bolds are mine; extra paragraph breaks added by me):
After he was sworn in as president, he proclaimed that taxpayer money would assuredly not be doled out to political friends. “Decisions about how Recovery Act dollars are spent will be based on the merits,” he said, referring to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. “Let me repeat that: decisions about how recovery money will be spent will be based on the merits. They will not be made as a way of doing favors for lobbyists.”
… an examination of grants and guaranteed loans offered by just one stimulus program run by the Department of Energy, for alternative-energy projects, is stunning. The so-called 1705 Loan Guarantee Program and the 1603 Grant Program channeled billions of dollars to all sorts of energy companies. The grants were earmarked for alternative-fuel and green-power projects, so it would not be a surprise to learn that those industries were led by liberals. Furthermore, these were highly competitive grant and loan programs—not usually a hallmark of cronyism. Often fewer than 10 percent of applicants were deemed worthy.
Nevertheless, a large proportion of the winners were companies with Obama-campaign connections. Indeed, at least 10 members of Obama’s finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers were big winners in getting your money. At the same time, several politicians who supported Obama managed to strike gold by launching alternative-energy companies and obtaining grants. How much did they get?
According to the Department of Energy’s own numbers … a lot. In the 1705 government-backed-loan program, for example, $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers—individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.
The grant and guaranteed-loan recipients were early backers of Obama before he ran for president, people who continued to give to his campaigns and exclusively to the Democratic Party in the years leading up to 2008. Their political largesse is probably the best investment they ever made in alternative energy. It brought them returns many times over.
… One might think that the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office, which has doled out billions in taxpayer-guaranteed loans, would be directed by a dedicated scientist or engineer. Or perhaps a civil servant with considerable financial knowledge. Instead, the department’s loan and grant programs are run by partisans who were responsible for raising money during the Obama campaign from the same people who later came to seek government loans and grants. Steve Spinner, who served on the Obama campaign’s National Finance Committee and was a bundler himself, was the campaign’s “liaison to Silicon Valley.”
… Another Obama fundraiser positioned to lead the allocation of taxpayer money to Obama contributors was Sanjay Wagle, who served as the managing co-chairman of Cleantech & Green Business Leaders for Obama. Wagle’s day job was as a principal at VantagePoint Venture Partners. After the 2008 election, Wagle joined the Obama administration as a “renewable energy grants adviser” at the Department of Energy. VantagePoint owned firms that would later see federal loan guarantees roll in.
As one might expect, it goes on and on and on.
It’s bad enough that this is to some degree business as usual inside the Beltway. But two things make it unique. First, its scope. $16 billion in just one program is a lot of money, even in a world where we’re being conditioned to be unimpressed by anything which isn’t followed by 12 zeroes. Second, the brazen hypocrisy. Obama didn’t just make a point of claiming that he would run a clean and above board operation in Washington during the 2008 campaign — supposedly in stark contrast to his predecessor and the pre-2007 Republican majority in Congress — he hammered at the theme at seemingly every conceivable opportunity.
Jonathan Alter and Allan Lichtman, both of whom have claimed that the Obama administration has been free of scandal during its nearly three years controlling the White House thus far — call your offices.
Will the relatively disengaged majority of the electorate every hear about what Schweizer has detailed in the above segment from his book? It’s not looking good; a search on his last name at the main site of the Associated Press, which may as well call itself The Administration’s Press, at 7:00 p.m. ET came up empty. Ben Feller, you too need to call your office — and get a grip.