Peter Flaherty's blog

BP Oil Spill Commission Chief Counsel Blames BP Instead of Entire Industry

Deepwater HorizonOn Thursday, Fred Bartlit, Chief Counsel of the BP Oil Spill Commission, issued a report in which he put blame squarely on BP for the disaster, including a failure to adequately supervise its Halliburton and Transocean subcontractors.

The seven-member Commission, appointed by President Obama before the well had even been capped, issued its "final" report on January 11. Although it cited many of the same BP-specific problems detailed by Bartlit, it implicated the entire oil and gas exploration and production industry, and called for "systemic reforms."

House Defeats Amendment to Eliminate Legal Services Corporation

The House of Representatives on Wednesday defeated an amendment to the Continuing Resolution that would have eliminated the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), the amendment should not have been necessary. Appropriations Committee Hall Rogers (R-KY) protected LSC by inserting only a modest cut of $70 million in the Continuing Resolution. He should have zeroed it out. In fiscal year 2010, LSC received $420 million.

Hal Rogers Again Spares Legal Services Corporation; Controversial Program Must Be Completely Defunded

LSC logoIn response to criticism that his first round of cuts did not go far enough, House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) has now produced a continuing resolution with $100 billion in cuts. Amazingly, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) again survived relatively intact.

Instead of a modest $75 million cut, Rogers has now increased the cut to a modest $85 million. Even the size of these cuts is illusory because they are off of President Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget figure of $435 million. When applied against the $420 million that LSC actually received in 2010, the latest cut is only $70 million.

Why Won't Rep. Meeks Talk About Vegas Trip?

Meeks photoRep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) held what looks like a fundraiser in Las Vegas but he reported no donations from the event. Talk about a bad bet. According to Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein in today's New York Post:

Meeks purported to hold a fund-raiser in Sin City for his Build America Political Action Committee, but his office refused to say when it took place or who attended. The financial disclosures for the Queens Democrat were similarly vague.

The latest disclosure for the PAC -- covering Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, 2010 -- shows the group spent $8,063 at the posh Aria resort in Las Vegas for "catering, site rental and lodging."

Hal Rogers Spares LSC; Is GOP Serious About Spending Cuts?

Hal Rogers photoIn the budget cuts announced today by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is slated for a token $75 million reduction. This is a genuine outrage. LSC should have been zeroed out completely.

In a statement today titled "CR Spending Cuts Go Deep," Rogers says, "Make no mistake, these cuts are not low hanging fruit." This is nonsense. Defunding the politicized and scandal-ridden LSC should have been easy. If the Republican Congress can't even cut off LSC, how will it ever make the tough choices necessary to reduce the deficit?

Obama's Chamber Speech a Tangle of Contradictions

In a speech today to the Chamber of Commerce, Barack Obama called for a reduction in corporate tax rates and simplification of the tax code, but he then pitched alternative energy, which is based wholly on tax breaks and subsidies. He said spending must be reduced and then again plugged the boondoggle of high-speed rail, which only benefits politically-connected contractors and unions, and bond traders. He said he favored free trade and then claimed that inventing something here and manufacturing it abroad "breaks the social compact."

Is Dan Akerson Driving GM Off a Cliff?

Akerson photoAs Karl Marx once said, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. In last year's epic auto chronicle, Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster, author Paul Ingrassia wrote about the catastrophic decline of the American automobile industry in the seventies:

Just as General Motors was led by financial people, Honda would always be led by engineers... Put another way, the bean counters ran GM, while the car guys ran Honda. It would make a crucial difference between Honda's success and GM's failure.

Modica: Will State & Muni Bondholders Get Crushed to Benefit Unions?

During an appearance on Fox Business Network on Tuesday, NLPC Associate Fellow (and GM bondholder) Mark Modica warned that the GM bankruptcy may provide a model for insolvent states and localities to crush bondholders and taxpayers to protect politically-connected unions. "Follow the Money" host is Eric Bolling. Here's a transcript:

Paranoid Rangel Claims We Broke Into His Office

One of the more bizarre elements of today's Washington Post profile of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), by Wil Haygood, is this:

Rangel has genuine vitriol for the National Legal and Policy Center, which filed complaints against him with the Federal Election Commission, the IRS and the House Ethics Committee. He claims that investigators for the group followed him to the Dominican Republic and broke into his office.

Rangel has made no secret of his contempt for the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), but this is the first time he has libeled us or accused us of committing a crime.

Rangel 'Lays Blame' on NLPC for His Ethics Problems

Rangel photoWashington Post reporter Wil Haygood today examines the plight of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) since his Censure in early December. Haygood sat down with Rangel for two recent interviews, and reports Rangel's "answers were full of contradictions that seem to defy easy explanation." Also:

Rangel has genuine vitriol for the National Legal and Policy Center, which filed complaints against him with the Federal Elections Commission, the IRS and the House Ethics Committee.

Haygood paints a picture of a bitter and confused politician who seems unable to accept the fact that his time has long passed:

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