In recent candidates debates, the two have criticized federal energy loan programs.
“We don’t need to be subsidizing energy in any form or fashion,” Perry said during a forum on Tuesday night. Earlier this month, he said the federal government should not “be involved in that type of investment, period. If states want to choose to do that, I think that’s fine for states to do.”
Paul also urged rugged independence for the energy sector: “The government shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing any form of energy,” he said during Tuesday’s debate.
The issue has taken on political urgency because of how the Obama administration handled a loan to Solyndra, a now-shuttered solar company that won $535 million in loans from the Federal Financing Bank guaranteed through the Energy Department. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in early September, leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay the debt.
Perry and Paul say now that their earlier advocacy for a specific Texas project does not contradict their fundamental beliefs. The Texas project ultimately was turned down for a loan.
Republicans have a history of supporting loan guarantee programs in the Energy Department. The programs were created in 2005 during the George W. Bush administration and were expanded in 2007 and again in President Obama's 2009 stimulus plan. A Washington Post review of Energy Department documents provided by Democratic officials shows that dozens of Republican lawmakers have requested loan guarantees for local projects, including House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
On Wednesday, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said he thinks loan guarantees are not the same as “subsidizing” corporations, because a well-managed company will not default and leave taxpayers liable for repayment. The governor said energy promotion will be a hallmark of his jobs creation plan during the presidential campaign.
Through a spokesman, Paul defended his support for the local nuclear project as an effort to spend already-approved funding. He, along with 30 other Republicans, opposed the creation of the federal account in 2005. He also opposed the 2009 stimulus plan.
“As a Congressman and as President, Dr. Paul will work to eliminate all federal intervention in the energy market. However, until that happens, he will do his best to ensure that the money Congress appropriates is spent in the best way possible,” Jesse Benton, his aide, said in a statement