Cash for “Clunkers,” But not Disaster Aid?

Here’s a timely reminder that liberals haven’t always opposed cuts from the green loan program that funded Solyndra. The National Journal reports Democrats were happy to raid the renewable energy loan budget to fund “Cash for Clunkers” and a bailout for teachers’ unions in the past. But now that Republicans are demanding Democrats choose between the green initiative and averting a hurricane relief-less government shutdown of catastrophic proportions? Solyndra, it is:

But twice before, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), diverted money–$3.5 billion total–from the renewable-energy program that issued loan guarantees to Solyndra to fund other programs. The first time he dipped into the program was to pay for the administration’s ‘cash for clunkers’ program; the second time was for state aid. Democrats weren’t thrilled with Reid, but they kept their frustrations in check. But now that Republicans want to use the clean-energy money for disaster relief, Dems are standing firm.  (“Need To Know Memo,” National Journal, 9/26/11)

As the RNC notes, both the Cash for Clunkers program and the teachers’ union bailout were money-pits that failed to meet the initial expectations. It’s hard to defend spending renewable energy money on those programs while refusing to spend it on keeping the government open. Of course, the amount of money that Democrats and Republicans are currently squabbling over is so small in the scheme of things the shutdown will likely be prevented, either by Democrats agreeing to energy loan program cuts or through another offset.