The Rove-founded American Crossroads released a video this week that drew widespread media attention. It launched what is fast becoming a key GOP attack line: Questioning Obama’s record on “public equity.”
The video slammed Obama for investing government money in green energy companies like Solyndra, and losing it when the companies hit the skids. “Public equity President Obama — playing Wall Street games with our money,” the vid intones.
It turns out, however, that one of the companies in the ad also received millions in government money from another administration: That of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
The Crossroads video, which is embedded below, cites the Massachusetts company Evergreen Solar as an example of a company that received taxpayer money before declaring bankruptcy or suffering
“serious financial issues” — which the video derides as a “risky investment strategy.” Romney picked up that attack line today, appearing in front of a shuttered Solyndra outlet to bash Obama.
But three weeks into Governor Mitt Romney’s term, Evergreen Solar received $2.5 million from the Romney administration for a “major expansion and to cover operating losses as it tried to become profitable,” according to a February article in Politico. The investment was part of a broader program in which the Romney administration gave millions in subsidies to multiple other companies, Politico reported.
Evergreen ultimately filed for bankruptcy last year, making this case very similar to Solyndra. Evergreen’s presence in the Crossroads ad was pointed out by the Obama-allied American Bridge.
Asked for comment, Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio referred back to several portions in the Politico piece. Among them: The green energy investments were not Romney’s idea (though his administration reportedly jumped at it), and the company went bankrupt after Romney’s Dem successor, Deval Patrick, invested millions in it.
To be fair, the investment in Evergreen is tiny compared to Obama’s investment in Solyndra. But even some Republicans have said the principle is the same, and that in both cases, government was picking winners and losers, to use a phrase Romney now employs derisively.
What’s more, this is part of a larger pattern. Reuters reported yesterday that throughout Romney’s entire gubernatorial tenure, he pursued a “hands-on approach to economic development that favored some industries over others and, in some instances, singled out individual firms for special favors.”
More broadly, the “public equity” attack line is all about conflating Romney’s Wall Street background with Obama’s use of government investment, in order to blunt attacks on Romney’s Bain years and the Wall Street risktaking it invokes. Hence Crossroads’ description of Obama’s “Wall Street games” with public money. But as Molly Redden explained in a good piece, the comparison is absurd: Private equity is all about making massive profits for a tiny group of investors, while government stimulus is “aimed at benefitting the public, and which the Obama administration has distributed with considerable success.”