Can Romney Make Solyndra a Campaign Issue?


As President Barack Obama turns his attention toward attacking Bain Capital to indict Gov. Mitt Romney as putting profits above people, Romney is trying to flip the tables by attacking Obama on Solyndra and the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program:

So will it work? Some thoughts:

Step away from the ridiculous filters. What is the deal with the vintage film look? It has absolutely no connection to the content or theme of the commercial. Just because you downloaded the app doesn't mean you have to use it.

Can Romney attack Obama on the basis of cronyism? As the Los Angeles Times pointed out earlier this year (with the help of Cato Analyst Tad DeHaven), companies in which Bain had heavily invested received millions in various government subsidies and grants. The perception of Romney as a rich, sheltered member of the old-boys network doesn't exactly give him the credibility to go after the young, rich, sheltered, new-boys network of green energy.

It's the jobs, stupid. The campaign sort of gets it, but the attacks are not sharp enough. The ads bring up the layoffs that follow these companies' failures, but because these are jobs Obama's taking credit for creating in the first place, it's easily spun as "Well, at least we're trying." Here's Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt's flippant response to the ad to Politico:

"What Mitt Romney has made abundantly clear over the past year is that he'd cede the clean energy market and jobs that come with it to China. He's been campaigning across the country, attacking investments in clean energy, while other countries are racing to capitalize on that market."

The statement isn't even entirely true: European nations are cutting back on their green energy subsidies (costing even more jobs). LaBolt's economic illiteracy is irrelevant, though. The Obama message is, "We're trying to create jobs and save the environment. Romney doesn't care about either of these things."

Obama's been given full rein to act as though these green energy projects are resulting in impoverished folks in nearby communities getting nice, productive jobs. The reality is, thanks to labor agreements these projects often sign with union groups (in order to keep them from miring the projects in lawsuits), the majority of Americans have no chance at all at landing one of these jobs. That's the scandal the average voter would be more likely to care about.

In November, Tim Cavanaugh declared the Solyndra scandal pretty much dead. (And again in March)