GM Wastes Taxpayer Money at New York Auto Show

private reception signFrom General Motor’s lavish presence at the New York International Auto Show taking place this week and next, you would think that the company is wildly profitable and that it has already paid back the $50 billion it got from taxpayers. Either that, or GM’s much-ballyhooed cost cutting has failed, and that its bad old habits are very much alive.

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica and I spent Wednesday walking the floor of the show at the massive Jacob Javits Convention Center on New York City’s west side. It is impossible to know how much GM is spending on displaying its vehicles, technologies and related events, but it is more than any other car company. And it is certainly too much.

Transformers photoSome simple metrics quantify GM’s spending binge at the show. First, there’s square footage of display space. GM’s main display space occupies the entire North Hall of the Javits … Read More ➡

GM CEO Akerson Offers Little on Automaker’s Future

Akerson photoAmid reports that the Treasury will soon attempt to sell the government’s stake in General Motors at a huge loss, CEO Dan Akerson this morning offered thin gruel for those hopeful about the future of the company. Akerson keynoted a breakfast sponsored by the National Association of Automobile Dealers in New York City, the site of the New York International Auto Show.

Asked about the flagging share price, which is now below its IPO price, Akerson cited oil prices, supply chain problems in Japan, and the fact that GM “incented (sic) more heavily” in the first quarter. He offered no scenario that would propel the share price higher.

Akerson defended GM’s incentives, which greatly exceeded the industry average, saying they were designed to give the company a “fast jump” in the new year. More likely, they moved ahead purchases that were going to take place anyway, and they certainly hurt … Read More ➡

We Told You So: Taxpayers to Take Massive Hit on GM Bailout

This week I am attending the New York International Auto Show and already there is plenty of news. The Wall Street Journal is today reporting that the government will “sell a significant share of its remaining stake in General Motors Co. this summer despite the disappointing performance of the auto maker’s stock.”

GM’s share price yesterday dipped below $30. It was already under its IPO price was $33. For taxpayers to break even, shares would have to rise to $53, now increasingly unlikely. In fact, the stock is probably headed down. The Treasury understands this and wants to get out before the situation becomes even worse. The sales would probably take place sooner if not for the fact that the shares are locked up until May 22.

Taxpayers will lose big time. This should be the end of the auto bailout “success” stories. President Obama was wrong when he said … Read More ➡

Rangel Junket Organizer Pleads Guilty

Rangel photoKarl Rodney, the organizer of the Caribbean junkets that were the downfall of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), has pled guilty to lying to Congress. During the Justice Department investigation, NLPC received a Grand Jury subpoena to provide photographs, audio recordings, and other materials from a November 2008 conference in St. Maarten.

I attended the event and documented the corporate sponsorship that violated House Rules, by companies like Citigroup, AT&T and Pfizer. It was this evidence on which the House Ethics Committee admonished Rangel in February 2010, prompting his resignation from the Ways and Means chairmanship.

Rodney, the publisher of a New York-based newspaper called Carib News, admitted lying to the House Ethics Committee about the source of funds for conferences in the Caribbean during 2007 and 2008. Although he faced up to five years in prison, the plea deal calls for a sentence of from zero to six months.

House … Read More ➡

Obama Forfeits Moral Leadership by Embracing Sharpton

Sharpton report coverI am tempted to say that President Obama rushing up to New York City to embrace Al Sharpton during the opening days of his campaign is evidence of a weakness in his re-election prospects. But it is much worse than that.

Barack Obama is failing to demonstrate leadership on racial issues, and leadership in general, by paying such homage to Sharpton. I thought the whole point of electing a black president was to allow the nation to rise above everything that Sharpton represents.

Sharpton has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for violating campaign laws as result of Complaints filed by the National Legal and Policy Center. But that is nothing morally compared to the incidents that Sharpton has orchestrated over the years, such as the Tawana Brawley episode, calculated to increase racial animosity. A detailed account of these incidents can be found in our Special Report titled Mainstreaming Read More ➡

AP: FCC’s LightSquared Decisions Could Ruin GPS

The Associated Press today reinforces questions raised by NLPC about a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to allow a company called LightSquared to deploy a national wireless network. NLPC has alleged that political influence played a role in FCC decisions favorable to LightSquared.

According to AP Technology Writer Joelle Tessler:

A new, ultra-fast wireless Internet network is threatening to overpower GPS signals across the U.S. and interfere with everything from airplanes to police cars to consumer navigation devices.

The problem stems from a recent government decision to let a Virginia company called LightSquared build a nationwide broadband network using airwaves next to those used for GPS. Manufacturers of GPS equipment warn that strong signals from the planned network could jam existing navigation systems.

On February 2, NLPC asked the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate the circumstances surrounding the FCC’s approval of an acquisition of a company … Read More ➡

SEC Must Investigate Berkshire Hathaway’s Sokol for Lubrizol Trades

The attempts to explain away David Sokol’s personal trading in Lubrizol shares just before Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition are strange. The SEC needs to investigate.

It doesn’t matter when and what Sokol told Warren Buffet. Sokol was working for Berkshire Hathaway at the time he was interacting with Lubrizol and trading its shares. Sokol’s defense that he did not have ultimate control on approving the acquisition deal is about as lame as it gets. And we are supposed to believe that his resignation is unconnected to these events?

Sokol didn’t buy Lubrizol stock after reading about the company in the newspaper. He actually met with the Lubrizol CEO James Hambrick. I doubt the discussions centered on Sokol’s personal portfolio.

This morning, Sokol said that if he had to do it again, he would have still bought the stock, but would not have proposed it to Buffett as an acquisition target. So … Read More ➡

SEC Says Wal-Mart Can’t Nix NLPC Shareholder Proposal on Global Warming

Mike Duke photoThe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has notified Wal-Mart that it will not allow the company to exclude from consideration our shareholder proposal that asks for a report on the business risks of climate change. Our supporting statement criticizes the company’s support for unpopular measures like Cap & Trade, and for forcing its controversial political positions on its suppliers.

On January 28, Wal-Mart challenged the proposal to prevent its inclusion in the proxy and a vote by shareholders. By doing so, Wal-Mart continues its policy of hostility toward those of us who advocate for its right to pursue its business model, while at the same time embracing and bankrolling anti-business activists.

This process began under former CEO H. Lee Scott and has accelerated under current CEO Mike Duke (in photo).  Wal-Mart’s shift to the Left was first detailed in our 2008 Special Report titled Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Read More ➡

Horowitz Blasts NFL’s Rooney Rule on VOA

Dr. Carl Horowitz, director of NLPC’s Organized Labor Accountability Project, offers his views on the NFL’s Rooney Rule in this report today by the Voice of America reporter Tala Hadavi:

The United States is known for being the land of equal opportunity. But that does not mean Americans don’t sometimes have to fight to get that opportunity. Here’s the story about one man who has made his mark helping to fight that battle.

Cyrus Mehri is one of the most influential – and perhaps feared – civil rights lawyers in America. In 2001, he settled one of the largest civil rights cases in the history of the United States – against The Coca-Cola Company for 192.5 Million dollars. Discrimination is a topic close to this Iranian American’s heart.

“I grew up in a family that when they came to the United States, they loved this country but they also saw … Read More ➡

Is Salazar Lowballing Gulf Drilling Applications?

Ken Salazar photoTwo weeks ago, we asked whether Interior Secretary Ken Salazar considered himself above the law by ignoring court orders to resume the permitting process for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Now we learn that Salazar may have misled Congress and the public on the number of drilling permit applications he is ignoring.

Yesterday, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) accused Salazar, along with Michael Bromwich, the director of the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, of using bogus figures. During Congressional testimony on March 2, and on other occasions, Salazar and Bromwich used much lower figures than those cited in a filing last week in the Justice Department’s appeal of the court order to begin issuing permits.

In a letter to Salazar and Bromwich, Vitter wrote:

Over the last several weeks and months, you have indicated publicly, before Congress, and privately to members, including myself, that

Read More ➡
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