World’s Largest Solar Plant, With Second Largest Ever Department of Energy Loan Guarantee, Files For Bankruptcy

ZeroHedge:  “Solyndra was just the appetizer. Earlier today, in what will come as a surprise only to members of the administration, the company which proudly held the rights to the world’s largest solar power project, the hilariously named Solar Trust of America (“STA”), filed for bankruptcy. And while one could say that the company’s epic collapse is more a function of alternative energy politics in Germany, where its 70% parent Solar Millennium AG filed for bankruptcy last December, what is relevant is that last April STA was the proud recipient of a $2.1 billion conditional loan from the Department of Energy, incidentally the second largest loan ever handed out by the DOE’s Stephen Chu. That amount was supposed to fund the expansion of the company’s 1000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project in Riverside, California. From the funding press release, “This project construction is expected to create over 1,000 direct jobs in Southern California, 7,500 indirect jobs in related industries throughout the United States, and more than 200 long-term operational jobs at the facility itself. It will play a key role in stimulating the American economy,” said Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America and Executive Chairman of project development subsidiary Solar Millennium, LLC.” Instead, what Solar Trust will do is create lots of billable hours for bankruptcy attorneys (at $1,000/hour), and a good old equity extraction for the $22 million DIP lender, which just happens to be NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, another “alternative energy” company which last year received a $935 million loan courtesy of the very same (and now $2.1 billion poorer) Department of Energy, which is also a subsidiary of public NextEra Energy (NEE), in the process ultimately resulting in yet another transfer of taxpayer cash to NEE’s private shareholders.”

The 7 Most Illuminating Economic Charts of 2011

The American:  “My Magnificent Seven. Some bust myths. Others highlight a reality the media is ignoring. Enjoy!”  This article covers 7 economic areas and contains 7 charts that track results over the last several decades.  The seven charts are:

  1. “The overly optimistic unemployment forecast of the Obama White House. This may be the most infamous economic prediction in U.S. political history.”
  2.  The real unemployment rate.
  3. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for decades—not.
  4. Inequality has exploded—not.
  5. The underwhelming Obama recovery using GDP.
  6. The underwhelming Obama recovery using unemployment.
  7. America’s debt picture is worse than you think.

Chevy Volt Costing Taxpayers Up to $250K Per Vehicle

Capcon Michigan Capitol Confidential:  “Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it – a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. . . . GM has estimated they’ve sold 6,000 Volts so far. That would mean each of the 6,000 Volts sold would be subsidized between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on how many government subsidy milestones are realized.”

Court Rejects Unused School Bond Money Law

AZCentral:  A Maricopa County Superior Court ruling this week has found unconstitutional a portion of a year-old law that had allowed Arizona school districts to spend unused bond money on other construction projects.

Judge Eileen Willett’s ruling stops Cave Creek Unified School District from spending $13 million in leftover bond money to renovate the cafeteria at Cactus Shadows High School.

The Goldwater Institute sued the school district in April on behalf of a district voter, Jayne Friedman, and claimed the school district could not spend the money on other renovations because it was, as written on voters’ ballots, intended for a new school building. The institute argued that recent legislation permitting such spending was a violation of the Arizona Constitution.

O’Connor Warns Lawyers and Judges of Judicial Funding Threat

ABA Journal: Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor expressed concern Sunday that not even lawyers and members of the judiciary fully recognize the threat to state courts posed by funding cutbacks being imposed by state legislatures.

No one, not even lawyers and judges, understands what a financial bind the courts are in,” said O’Connor in a brief interview with the ABA Journal following a program on the current crisis in court funding. As a result, she said, “They’re not ready for the political fights” that may be necessary to assure that legislatures fund the courts at adequate levels. “We have to wake them up.”

O’Connor was one of the panelists at the program sponsored by the Office of the President. Stephen N. Zack of Miami appointed the Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System a year ago when he began his term as ABA president. The panel also included the task force’s co-chairs, David Boies of Armonk, N.Y., and Theodore B. Olson of Washington, D.C.

Debt Deal Eliminates Graduate School Loan Subsidies

USA Today:  A federal subsidy that aids graduate students would be eliminated to boost funding for Pell grants that help low-income undergraduates, under the compromise debt-ceiling bill moving through Congress.  That trade-off is one of the few program changes specified in the bill.

The maximum Pell grant of $5,550 would be preserved for an estimated 9 million undergraduates, according to the White House.

To pay for that, graduate students who get federally subsidized loans would see the interest on those loans begin to accrue while they’re still in school, beginning July 1 next year. Currently, that interest doesn’t begin accruing until the students graduate. That saves lots of money for doctoral candidates, medical school students, law students and others in long-term graduate programs.

 

Feds Apparently Unaware of Economic Crisis – Continued Hiring, Never Firing

The Washington Examiner:  A new analysis of federal workforce data shows that even in this time of retrenchment and downsizing, the federal government almost never fires or lays off workers.  In fact, in many corners of the federal government, it is virtually impossible for an employee to be fired. “Federal employees’ job security is so great that workers in many agencies are more likely to die of natural causes than get laid off or fired,” writes USA Today, which conducted the survey.

The paper reports the federal government “fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended September 30.”  For the private sector, the figure is about 3%.  And for some parts of the federal workforce, the firing rate was even lower.  For example, USA Today found that federal workers in the Washington, DC area have 99.74% job security.  Some agencies, like the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, did not fire or lay off anyone in the last year.

U.S. Has Enough Revenue To Send Out Social Security Checks Despite Obama’s Claim

The Washington Examiner: President Obama told CBS News today that he “cannot guarantee that those

[Social Security] checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”

But wait just a minute. If Washington receives about $200 billion in monthly revenues and sends out roughly $50 billion worth of Social Security checks and the same amount of Medicare payments, why is Obama claiming the checks may not go out?

Isn’t $200 billion minus $100 billion still $100 billion?

How Social Security Payments Have Already Been Cut

Yahoo! Finance:  Policy experts have focused on alternative ways of eliminating Social Security’s 75-year financing gap, but lost in the debate is the fact that even under current law Social Security will provide less retirement income relative to previous earnings than it does today. Combine the already legislated reductions with potential cuts to close the financing gap, and Social Security may no longer be the mainstay of the retirement system for many people.