RNC hits Obama on loan to automaker

The chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) bashed White House energy programs Thursday by highlighting the struggles of Fisker Automotive, a company that was approved for up to $529 million in federal loans. 

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus noted the automaker has yet to deliver on a promised manufacturing project in Delaware.

“President Obama took half a billion dollars of your taxpayer money and gave it to Fisker Automotive because they promised to create jobs at their Wilmington plant and to hire workers here in the Delaware Valley. They promised to build cars here and create jobs here,” Preibus said in remarks prepared for a Thursday press conference in Philadelphia.

“Their factory in Delaware, which would have created jobs for people both in Delaware and here in southeastern Pennsylvania, was supposed to be open today, but instead it’s closed,” Priebus said.

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Republicans are trying to parry Obama campaign charges that presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney oversaw the outsourcing of U.S. jobs while running Bain Capital. The Fisker loan approved in 2010 has been a juicy political target because a portion of it supported overseas manufacturing, even though it was by design because the funding supported work in America.

A $169 million portion of the Energy Department loan funded U.S. engineering and design work for the roughly $100,000 electric Fisker Karma that is manufactured in Finland.

“They took taxpayer dollars to build their electric sports cars overseas. Good for Finland. Devastating for taxpayers,” said Priebus.

A bigger portion of the $529 million loan, which has mostly been frozen, was for plans to manufacture a separate plug-in electric model at a former GM plant in Delaware, a project that has faced a number of headwinds.

The company has drawn a total of $193 million of the $529 million thus far, but the Energy Department halted the remainder in May of 2011 because the company had not met “milestones” for the project

“Fisker took that money — your money — but they didn’t create jobs for you,” Priebus said.

Roger Ormisher, a Fisker spokesman, said the company is in talks with DOE about revised milestones and targets to free up the loan funding, and is also exploring other funding sources.

The company still hopes to build its “Atlantic” sedan in Delaware, where it has already worked to refurbish the GM factory, but is looking at other options, he said.

Priebus, in his remarks, bashed the Fisker loan before more broadly claiming that the 2009 stimulus law has “failed.”

The Fisker loan did not stem from the stimulus, however, coming instead from a bipartisan 2007 energy law that created the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.