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Solyndra and the White House: Letting sunlight in

“QUESTIONS will be asked”, a farsighted official wrote in January, “as to why the administration made a bad investment, not just once…but twice.” Sure enough, Congress, the press and the Republican presidential candidates, among others, have plenty of questions about Solyndra, a maker of cylindrical solar panels that continued to receive instalments of a generous government loan even as it hobbled towards bankruptcy. Two committees of the House of Representatives were holding hearings on the fiasco this week. The FBI is investigating the firm, as are the Energy and Justice Departments and the Treasury. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wants the Justice Department to open a full-scale independent investigation.“We have so much material, it’s going to be a joy,” exulted Michele Bachmann, a congresswoman and presidential candidate. Like many of her fellow Republicans, she denounced as ill-advised and wasteful the stimulus package that Barack Obama pushed through Congress in early 2009, under which Solyndra got a government guarantee for a $535m loan. At the groundbreaking for the factory built with the loan Joe Biden, the vice-president, said that it was “exactly what the Recovery Act is all about”. Mr Obama, on a subsequent visit, declared: “The true engine of economic growth will always be firms like Solyndra.” Solyndra has laid off all its 1,100 staff.That…

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