The controversial loan guarantees

October 3, 2012

"You put $90 billion into -- into green jobs," Mitt Romney said. "And I -- look, I’m all in favor of green energy. $90 billion, that would have -- that would have hired 2 million teachers. $90 billion. And these businesses, many of them have gone out of business." 

The controversial loan guarantee program Romney cited in the debate provided $16.1 billion in loan guarantees. As of May, that represents about 1.7 percent of the almost one trillion dollars of existing federal loan guarantee commitments.* Defaults from Solyndra and Beacon, according to congressional testimony, are likely to net out to $300 to $400 million -- roughly 2 percent of the amount guaranteed. 

The amount defaulted is still well below the $2.47 billion Congress budgeted to cover expected defaults and partial defaults. About $14 billion of the loan guarantees didn't go to support individual companies but to support large scale wind or solar generation projects based on proven technologies. 

*This post inaccurately described the default rate as 1.7 percent; it is actually the share of all loan guarantee commitments this program represents.

More on the rest of the $90 billion here.

Steven Mufson covers energy and other financial news.
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