The latest development in the infuriating Solyndra saga is that the Labor Department has approved “Trade Adjustment Assistance” for the 1,100 ex-employees of Solyndra.
The TAA program provides aid to workers who supposedly lost their jobs due to the trade practices of foreign countries. The available assistance includes job retraining, job search allowances, health benefits, and up to 130 weeks — that is, more than 2 years — of “income support.” Under the TAA program, the average recipient gets about $13,000 in assistance. In short, the Labor Department decision means that taxpayers will potentially foot the bill for about $14.3 million in TAA expenses, in addition to the $535 million in loan guarantees that was lost when Solyndra went bankrupt.
In short, the Labor Department is saying that Solyndra’s failure was due to Chinese trade practices, and not to the fact that Solyndra was poorly managed and couldn’t produce a competitively priced product even with massive federal assistance. The decision therefore provides some political cover for the disastrously misguided loan guarantees — if Solyndra’s failure is blamed on Chinese trade practices, it makes the Obama Administration’s decision to provide the guarantees in the first place seem more defensible.
Solyndra continues to be the governmental “investment” that keeps on taking.