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Obama talks to Big Dog (finally)
 by Joe Conason 


In October 2009, Clinton sent a personal memo to Joe Biden, White House energy advisor Carol Browner
and Obama economic advisor Lawrence Summers, telling them that in his opinion, the ratio might be as high
as 10-to-1, with $15 billion leveraging as much as $150 billion. Every billion dollars invested in building efficiency
creates as many as 9,000 new jobs in construction, design and manufacturing, which would swiftly add up to
a million or more Americans rescued from unemployment.

Privately, Clinton spoke with dozens of Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the administration, trying to persuade
them that a green loan guarantee might not only create new jobs but save theirs as well in the upcoming midterm
elections. Yet despite the president's avowed commitment to clean energy and green jobs, the proposal made
little headway until this week -- even as economists have urged the administration to unlock the enormous pool
of capital that banks are refusing to lend.

Those business executives present at Wednesday's White House event weren't the Chamber of Commerce types
that have attacked the Democrats over healthcare, financial reform and the federal deficit. (So the notion that
Obama called upon Clinton to "mediate" his differences with the business community was pure media concoction.)
Instead, they represented companies that could participate directly in the Clinton plan, including Bank of America
CEO Brian Moynihan, Honeywell CEO David M. Cote, Hannon Armstrong CEO Jeffrey Eckel, Johnson Controls
president C. David Myers, and Ameresco founder and executive vice-president Dave Anderson. Indeed,
Johnson Controls, which builds and installs energy control systems and other efficiency equipment, is already
working with the Clinton Climate Initiative to make the  Empire State Building a model of green retrofitting.

For Democrats, this was not merely an occasion for Clinton nostalgia, but a grim reminder of lost opportunities.
Had the president and his staff heeded their old adversary when he started pushing the loan guarantee plan last year,
they might not need his help quite as badly as they do today


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