U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz called the revived Energy Department loan guarantee program that directed taxpayer funding to the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar energy company a "terrific success" on C-SPAN Friday.
"The loan guarantee program has had some controversy," he said. "Let me say flatly it's been a terrific success, and a $35 billion loan portfolio has had two percent of defaults, 10 percent of the reserve fund that the Congress itself put aside for what is advancement of risky technologies."
The Obama administration let the widely criticized program lapse during the 2012 election season. After Obama's re-election, the administration's view appears to have evolved in 2013.
Yet, the loan office is known better for its public flops, the New York Times reports:
But the loan office has attracted far more attention for failures like Solyndra, which defaulted on a $535 million loan, and Fisker Automotive, the electric car company whose unpaid $168 million loan the Energy Department put up for auction this week. Many Republicans have seized on these missteps in criticizing the program.
"The Obama administration has gotten into the business of picking winners and losers at a significant cost to taxpayers," Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, said on Wednesday in calling for legislation to end the part of the program geared toward fuel-efficient cars.
Solyndra received a $535-million loan in 2009 and went under two years later. Critics slammed the lost investment as a prime example of crony capitalism by the Obama administration. Praised by President Obama in 2010 as the "true engine of economic growth," Solyndra was forced to lay off more than 1,800 workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.