If you have a house that you sell for $200,000 and you owe the mortgage company $150,000, then you have $50,000 in equity. That $50,000 is your money to invest, spend, or save. If you make a wise investment, you’ll make money. If you make a bad investment, you’ll lose money. It’s that simple, unless the government gets involved.
Private equity firms partner with financial institutions, venture capitalists, and private investors to purchase companies that are often poorly managed and losing money. The private equity firms believe that with hands-on management, possibly a reduced work force, restructuring, the sale of some assets, the company can be salvaged, either for a sale or ongoing profitability. The goal is to make money for the investors, not to guarantee someone a job.
Some companies make it and others do not. The risk of gain or loss remains with the investors with their own money at no risk to tax payers.
President Obama and some of his fellow Democrats have criticized Mitt Romney’s tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital. What’s there to criticize? Romney and his business partners invested their own money in failed companies and brought a good number of them back to life. Sounds like a good thing to me. Did some people lose their jobs? Yes. Did some people keep their jobs? Yes. If the investment had not been made, would everybody have lost their jobs? Yes.
President Obama has been using money that the government took from you and me to “invest” in companies for political purposes. We didn’t give him permission to do this. There is no constitutional basis for such “investments.” If a private equity firm stole money from you and me to invest in a company – no matter how good the investment might be – the managers of that company would go to jail.
We’ve heard about the $535 million dollar “investment” that President Obama made with our money that went to the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra. Solyndra’s after-“investment” bankruptcy is just the tip of the iceberg. Marc A. Thiessen offers the following summary of some of the President’s tax-payer-funded “equity investments” in his article “Forget Bain — Obama’s Public-Equity Record is the Real Scandal”:
- In 2010, the Obama administration gave Raser Technologies a $33 million taxpayer-funded grant to build a power plant in Beaver Creek, Utah. The company filed for bankruptcy.
- The Obama administration gave ECOtality $126.2 million in taxpayer money in 2009. According to ECOtality’s own SEC filings, the company has since incurred more than $45 million in losses.
- The Obama administration gave Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) a $98.5 million taxpayer loan guarantee in 2010.
- The Obama administration provided First Solar with more than $3 billion in loan guarantees for power plants in Arizona and California.
- The Obama administration gave Abound Solar, Inc. a $400 million loan guarantee to build photovoltaic panel factories.
- The Obama administration gave Beacon Power— a green-energy storage company — a $43 million loan guarantee.
- A company called SunPower got a $1.2 billion loan guarantee from the Obama administration, and as of January, the company owed more than it was worth.
- Brightsource got a $1.6 billion loan guarantee and posted a string of net losses totaling $177 million.
All of these “investments” have three things in common: (1) the companies are failures, (2) the money was taken from us – the taxpayers – to fund what a private equity firm would not, and (3) “as Hoover Institution scholar Peter Schweizer reported in his book, ‘Throw Them All Out,’ fully 71 percent of the Obama Energy Department’s grants and loans went to ‘individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.’ Collectively, these Obama cronies raised $457,834 for his campaign, and they were in turn approved for grants or loans of nearly $11.35 billion.”
It’s fun being the President when you can “invest” other people’s money and not have to pay it back if you lose it.