Ordinarily, a story like this wouldn't come with any kind of political significance, but Tesla's progress in repaying U.S. loans reminded me of something.
Tesla Motors Inc., which received $465 million in U.S. Energy Department loans to develop and build electric cars, will repay the funds five years ahead of schedule in a plan approved by the government.The carmaker said in its annual report yesterday that the department approved amended terms of the loan agreements that enable it to complete repayment by December 2017. Starting in 2015, the Palo Alto, California-based company will make accelerated payments from excess free cash flow, Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja said in a telephone interview. [...]The maker of battery-powered Model S sedans, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has a goal of becoming profitable this quarter, with deliveries of the vehicle forecast to rise to a record 20,000 units in 2013.
I'll concede that I'm no expert when it comes to cars or auto manufacturers' finances, though it certainly seems like good news that the Obama administration took a chance on an innovative car company, and now that company is paying taxpayers back -- ahead of schedule.
The political part kicks in, however, when we look back at the 2012 presidential election. I read the transcript of just about every speech and interview Mitt Romney did last year, and I seem to recall the Republican condemning Obama's loan to Tesla all the time. In the final months of the race, it was a standard line of attack: the president was recklessly using our money, Romney said, to "pick losers." Obama was so irresponsible, he even invested in Tesla Motors.
Romney was so fond of the criticism, he even brought it up during one of the debates. Paul Ryan joined in on the fun, condemning Tesla's loan on the stump as well.
I'm curious, given these new developments, whether the GOP still considers the administration's loan an outrageous abuse worthy of public scorn.