Amid an ongoing investigation into the recent collapse of Solyndra Inc., Republicans are pointing to the failure of the company - which produced solar energy panels - as a prime example of why the 2008 stimulus package was, by their count, "a national punchline."
In remarks Thursday on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., argued that Solyndra's bankruptcy this month was just another reason to fight against the president's jobs plan.
"This place was supposed to be the poster child of how the original stimulus would create jobs. Now it's bankrupt and most of its 1,100 employees are out of work," McConnell said. "And they want another stimulus?"
"Look," he added, "even if you didn't know about any of the waste or the alleged cronyism, here's the bottom line: two and a half years after the president signed the first stimulus, there are 1.7 million fewer jobs in this country, 1.7 million fewer jobs after borrowing and spending $825 billion to create them. What more do you need to know than that?"
The White House and many mainstream economists say the 2009 spending package prevented a severe recession from becoming the second Great Depression.
Sarah Palin, in a note on her Facebook page, argued that Solyndra represented another notch on the White House's "pantheon on crony capitalism," and (citing a previous speech of her own) contended that "when government picks the winners and losers, we're stuck with the losers, and we the taxpayers subsidize failure!"
"The President hailed this 'green energy' company in a speech last May as 'the true engine of economic growth.' When he announced the $535 million guarantee to Solyndra, Vice President Biden said that investments like this are 'exactly what the Recovery Act is all about,'" Palin wrote, adding: " (Dear God...If the failed Solyndra venture has been what it's "all about," then that explains a lot.)"
An investigation into Solyndra's bankruptcy has led to questions about whether or not the White House adequately vetted the half-billion-dollar loan. Reports have indicated that the Obama administration may have rushed a decision on the matter in order to be able to announce it officially at a press event, and, according to the Chicago Tribune "at least one investor in it was a prominent Obama fundraiser."
The Department of Energy, however, argues that not only was the loan not rushed, but that the application for it was actually filed under the Bush administration - and that it neared completion before Mr. Obama took office.
"By the time the Obama administration took office in late January 2009, the loan programs' staff had already established a goal of, and timeline for, issuing the company a conditional loan guarantee commitment in March 2009," said Jonathan Silver, who heads the Energy loan program, according to ABC.
Nevertheless, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the department would look into the matter.
"We're going to be looking at that and trying to understand things, so it's too early to tell," he told reporters on Thursday.
In a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president had not been briefed over the questions.
"I think he's probably read some news accounts of it," he said. "There's not a lot to brief him about."
Carney added: "There's no evidence that the White House was involved in the loan... The White House was involved in trying to find out when a decision would be made so they could make -- staff here could make a decision about the vice president's having an event."
"Anybody who travels with us or understands the sort of complexity of scheduling White House events involving the two principals, the president and the vice president, that process engages a lot of people," he added. "And there are just a whole series of decisions that have to be made regarding scheduling, whatever the nature of the event."