Speaking at the White House Thursday about the economy and jobs, President Obama said loan guarantees for the clean energy sector are needed to help U.S. companies compete with China and prevent them from relocating offshore.
Defending the $528 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, Obama claimed that support for clean energy has been historically bipartisan and is "pretty straightforward," the Associated Press reports. Obama explained, "If we are going to be able to compete in the 21st century, then we’ve got to dominate cutting-edge technologies ... [and] cutting-edge manufacturing."
He added, "Clean energy is part of that package of technologies of the future that have to be based here in the United States if we’re going to be able to succeed," according to a White House press release.
Obama said his administration knew from the outset that the loan guarantee program was going to "entail some risk, by definition." But, he believes the program has been successful, citing job creation and the emergence of advanced battery manufacturing in the U.S.
He added, "There were going to be some companies that did not work out; Solyndra was one of them."
The president also remained optimistic that the U.S. can overcome China's leads in technology. Referring to the comments made by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) that the U.S. "can't compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines," Obama said, "I don't buy that."
Concluding his discussion of Solyndra and clean energy loans, Obama said the U.S. has to "keep on pushing hard" to ensure clean energy jobs and technologies remain in the country. "There are going to be times where it doesn’t work out, but I’m not going to cave to the competition when they are heavily subsidizing all these industries."
Obama's statements at Thursday's press conference reinforce earlier White House comments. This week, the White House said using Solyndra as a reason to abandon solar and other clean energy loans is "counterproductive defeatism."
The President spoke Thursday primarily to promote his $447 billion jobs bill and challenge Republican opposition. His plan is expected to be debated in the Senate next week.