So, Tuesday Obama was out there sharing the love on Valentines Day by showing his support for extending a $40 payroll tax cut for working Americans. As if that $40 bucks will do much to help working Americans (and there are record low number of Americans who are working).
But while Obama out there playing Santa Claus for the cameras on Valentines Day, behind the scenes, his buddies are hauling away billions in tax payer dollars.
From the Washington Post: "Federal funds flow to clean-energy firms with Obama administration ties:"
Sanjay Wagle was a venture capitalist and Barack Obama fundraiser in 2008, rallying support through a group he headed known as Clean Tech for Obama.
Shortly after Obama’s election, he left his California firm to join the Energy Department, just as the administration embarked on a massive program to stimulate the economy with federal investments in clean-technology firms.
Following an enduring Washington tradition, Wagle shifted from the private sector, where his firm hoped to profit from federal investments, to an insider’s seat in the administration’s $80 billion clean-energy investment program.
He was one of several players in venture capital, which was providing financial backing to start-up clean-tech companies, who moved into the Energy Department at a time when the agency was seeking outside expertise in the field. At the same time, their industry had a huge stake in decisions about which companies would receive government loans, grants and support.
During the next three years, the department provided $2.4 billion in public funding to clean-energy companies in which Wagle’s former firm, Vantage Point Venture Partners, had invested, a Washington Post analysis found. Overall, the Post found that $3.9 billion in federal grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers.
White House officials stress that staffers and advisers with venture capital ties did not make funding decisions related to these companies. But e-mails released in a congressional probe of Obama’s clean-tech program show that staff and advisers with links to venture firms informally advocated for some of those companies.
David Gold, a venture capitalist and critic of Obama’s investments in clean tech, said that even if staffers had been removed from the final decision-making, they had the kind of inside access to exert subtle influence.
“To believe those quiet conversations don’t happen in the hallways — about a project being in a certain congressman’s district or being associated with a significant presidential donor, is naive,” said Gold, who once worked at the Office of Management and Budget. “When you’re putting this kind of pressure on an organization to make decisions on very big dollars, there’s increased likelihood that political connections will influence things.”
There's a lot more detail in the full Wash. Post story.
As I have said before, you can take the politician out of Chicago but you can't take the Chicago out of the politician. Obama promised to be a new kind of president. One that would break the old corrupt system and usher in a new era of competence and cooperation. But then, he promised a lot of things and he's broken nearly all of them.
When you're spending that $40 on $4 or $5 a gallon gas this summer you can't be faulted for wondering whether the guy filling up his Mercedes was in on Obama's billion dollar giveaway!