Human Events Blog

Bankrupt Obama green energy companies pay fat bonuses to executives

ABC News brings us exciting news about the glorious achievements of Barack Hussein Obama, the greatest investor the world has ever known:

President Obama’s Department of Energy helped finance several green energy companies that later fell into bankruptcy — but not before the firms doled out six-figure bonuses and payouts to top executives, a Center for Public Integrity and ABC News investigation found.

Take, for instance, Beacon Power Corp., the second recipient of an Energy Department loan guarantee in 2009. In March 2010, the Massachusetts energy storage company paid cash bonuses of $259,285 to three executives in part due to progress made on the $43 million energy loan, Securities and Exchange Commission records show. Last October, Beacon Power filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Well, okay, maybe Obama’s not such a great investor after all.  But he’s definitely the most well-funded investor in the world, and he’s got you to thank for it, taxpayer.  Or, given that he’s throwing a trillion dollars of deficit money around every year, your children.  They’ll be paying the bills for all this, plus a few billion dollars of interest.  But at least they’ll get to enjoy an economy that’s “built to last!”

No story of Obama Administration disaster would be complete without a guest appearance from Joe Biden:

EnerDel, maker of lithium-ion battery systems, landed a $118.5 million energy grant in August 2009. About one-and-a-half years later, Vice President Joe Biden toured a company plant in Indiana and heralded its taxpayer-supported expansion as one of the “100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America.”

Two months after Biden’s visit, EnerDel corporate parent Ener1 paid $725,000 in bonuses to three executives — including $450,000 to then-CEO Charles Gassenheimer, who led Biden on the tour. This January, Ener1 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

At least two other firms that benefited from Energy Department funding — one a $500,000 grant, the other a $535 million loan guarantee — handed out hefty payouts to executives and later went bankrupt.

In all fairness, Biden was correct: Obama’s “green energy” lunacy is changing America.  Swing by your local gas station this afternoon if you have any doubts.

You’ll be relieved to know the Obama Administration is terribly concerned about all this, and will be sending Strongly Worded Memos to the taxpayer-financed vacation retreats of these “green energy” executives:

The Department of Energy, asked about the payments examined by the Center and ABC, said it is troubled by the practice and intends to convey that message to loan recipients.

“We don’t begrudge companies or their executives for their success, but it is irresponsible for executives to be awarded bonus compensation when their workers are losing their jobs,” said department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman. “We take our role as stewards of taxpayer dollars very seriously, and as such, we will make clear to loan recipients our view that funds should not be directed toward executive bonuses when the rest of the company is facing financial difficulty.”

Well, that’ll teach ‘em!  Give those bankruptcy vampires hell, noble stewards of the taxpayer dollar!

People have been complaining about hefty executive compensation for a long time.  The private sector has been roundly criticized for its “golden parachutes.”  The difference is that private companies, operating in the free market, are the financial responsibility of their shareholders.  No one is required to invest in them, and if the owners want to throw ridiculous bonuses at inept executives, it’s their nickel.  Financially irresponsible corporations eventually run into survival issues.

In the new world of Obama’s centrally-planned corporatism, there are no such consequences.  You were forced to invest in Beacon Power, EnerDel, Solyndra, and all the other “winners” chosen by your political masters.  The man who is ultimately responsible for all this has a good chance of securing re-election, in no small part because he’s persuaded you to forget all about his failures, and argue about condoms instead. 

This is an inherent problem with ceding control of the economy to Big Government.  The bigger the State becomes, the more criteria its elected leaders will be judged by, during elections.  They gain additional cover from delegating power to unelected bureaucrats, providing themselves with a cushion of deniability.  They can even try to win re-election by essentially running against themselves, and promising to “clean up” the messes they have created.

No one should have a shred of doubt about this: if Barack Obama is re-elected, he will seize more of your money and use it to make investments according to his own spectacularly poor judgment.  You have exactly one chance to stop him.  The next round of subsidy-hungry Obama contributors will be very disappointed if you do.

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