A123 Systems received, in 2009, a $249.1 million federal grant from “Dear Leader” Barack Hussein Obama’s wildly successful (NOT) stimulus program. A123 also received over $100 million in grants and tax credits from Massachusetts. A123 was, however, deeply in debt, and in October 2012, filed for bankruptcy. A123 sold $125 million of its auto assets to Johnson Controls, which will provide financing to A123 in bankruptcy. The remainder of A123 was then purchased in December 2012 by the Chinese company Wanxiang Group, through an auction run by Latham and Watkins, a law firm that contributed more than $200,000 to Obama’s re-election bid. Cozy, huh?
A123 has drawn just over half of its grant money, $129 million, to build a factory in Michigan. Speaking of A123’s factory, here is what Obama had to say in 2009:
“This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America – an industry that’s going to be central to the next generation of cars. When folks lift up their hoods on the cars of the future, I want them to see engines and batteries that are stamped: Made in America.”
A123 Systems, co-founded in 2001 by Yet-Ming Chiang, a materials scientist at MIT who had developed a new technology for fast-charging lithium-ion batteries, had, in 2009, what appeared to be a great idea. But that “great idea” didn’t pan out. The batteries A123 supplied to Fisker for its electric car caused fires, forcing Fisker, in 2011, to recall 239 Karmas for battery replacement, costing A123 $50 million.
The fact that A123 went bankrupt after receiving taxpayer money is bad enough. What’s worse, IMHO, is that Obama placed bets on future technology with taxpayer money. The entire situation would have been fine had Obama placed bets with venture capitalists’ money. Venture capitalists could have examined A123’s prospectus, its technology forecasts, and production plans, then decided whether or not to invest. But the evaluation task was assigned to the totally unbiased “experts” at Obama’s Department of Energy (DOE), under the Obama crony Dr. Steven Chu. We taxpayers, who footed the investment bill, were never consulted.
What’s even worse is that now the A123 Systems technology that we paid for is going to the Chinese. What does all of this mean (or potentially mean)? Dean Popp, former acting United States assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, and co-chair of Strategic Materials Advisory Council (therefore, not some ignorant blowhard) said:
“We are not taking a critical look at what China is doing in terms of assembling a portfolio of things that allow her to control our supply chain and control our national security concerns. These batteries are used in satellites; these batteries are used in combat vehicles; these batteries are used in precision munitions – you know, wherever there’s sensitive stuff. It is the technology not only of the hour, but of the decade.”
Popp also expressed concern that the U.S. is losing its manufacturing, industrial and technological strength, and becoming more vulnerable to China.
So, I guess Obama’s reelection and paybacks for cronys (I mean, “campaign contributors”) is more important to him than national security.
But that’s just my opinion.
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