House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Friday said Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s lack of knowledge about the problems plaguing now-bankrupt Solyndra demonstrates poor management skills that preclude him from being an effective Cabinet-level official.
“I would look to have somebody else manage” the Department of Energy, McCarthy said on a Friday conference call. “Things were going on that he did not know about,” he added. “That’s not the way you should be managing.”
Those comments echo remarks by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s lead investigator. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) said Thursday that Chu should be replaced.
“I think the secretary is unaware of so many things that have happened that would question his financial ability and his management of very complex corporations,” Stearns said. “He probably should be replaced by the president,” he added.
Chu spent five hours before Energy and Commerce’s investigative subcommittee Thursday, where he defended the government’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, and denied any political favoritism in awarding it.
Chu pleaded ignorance on a number of questions, repeatedly saying that he had been unaware of major developments in the Solyndra scandal. He answered “I don’t know” to numerous questions from the committee, prompting aggravated replies from a number of members, including Stearns, who noted with exasperation, “Throughout all of this, you seem to have an unawareness.”
Stearns reiterated his concerns in an interview with Heritage on Friday. “Either [Chu] didn’t know what he was talking about, or he didn’t tell the truth,” Stearns said. “I’m hoping that the rest of our leadership will understand the sobering facts here,” he added.
While members of Congress have focused most of their criticism on Chu, they’ve missed an opportunity to highlight the underlying problems with the government’s loan-guarantee program, said Nick Loris, an energy policy analyst at Heritage. Loris outlined those problems in a recent report:
American taxpayers cannot afford these programs, and they would put taxpayers on the hook for an untold number of projects that could fail. Even if the selected projects succeed, such programs give preferential treatment to those companies lucky enough to receive a loan guarantee from the government and increase the opportunity for and likelihood of fraud and corruption. The government needs to stop trying to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.