As a candidate for the presidency, Barack Obama criticized the Export-Import bank, but as president he has praised it and reauthorized it to continue loaning taxpayer money to private enterprises. Late last week, the Ex-Im loaned about $57 million to First Solar, ostensibly so the solar panel manufacturer could boost exports of its product to India. The Ex-Im’s press release says that the loan will help create 200 jobs at First Solar’s factory in Tempe, AZ. A quick calculation finds that the Ex-Im loan amounts to $285,000 per job.
First Solar is a curious choice for the Ex-Im to consider worthy of a huge loan. It was the worst performing firm on the SPX in 2011. It has also been linked with several junk bond firms. In March 2012, First Solar was found using government subsidies to “export” solar panels to itself.
But First Solar has connections, similar to the connections that won Solyndra its taxpayer-backed loans. According to Townhall columnist Marita Noon, several Obama campaign bundlers are investors in First Solar. Bruce Heyman, David Heller, and Jennifer Scully are all Obama bundlers who have investments in First Solar. First Solar CEO Michael Ahearn “gives generously (and exclusively) to Democrats.” Other First Solar investors include Goldman Sachs, whose former officials now infest the Obama administration, leftwing billionaire Ted Turner, Paul Tudor Jones, Whitney Tilson, and through Generation Investment Management, former Vice President Al Gore.
First Solar posted a $450 million loss in Q1 of 2012, and its stock has nosedived from $130 per share a year ago to less than $20 per share now. Its sales dropped 25% during the quarter. It’s this company that the Ex-Im is standing behind with $57 million of our money.
When President Obama talks about businesses not getting to where they are on their own, perhaps First Solar and Solyndra are the kinds of businesses he has in mind. They certainly didn’t waste millions in taxpayer dollars on their own. They had help, and as long as Obama and his crony socialists are in power, they will continue to have help.