I made these remarks today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC before the luncheon speech of outgoing General Motors CEO Dan Akerson:
President Obama justified the auto bailout by predicting it would make money for the taxpayer. With Treasury now selling its remaining shares, the direct loss is about $10 billion. So on its most fundamental level, the auto bailout is a failure.
But that $10 billion figure dramatically understates the true cost. There were separate multibillion dollar bailouts of Ally Financial, formerly know as GMAC, and Delphi and other suppliers. There was cash for clunkers, the government guarantee of warrantees, accelerated fleet purchases, etc., etc.
I will hold a press conference on Monday, December 16 at 11:00am to pose key questions to General Motors leadership, including whether and when the company will repay to taxpayers the $10 billion direct cost of the auto bailout.
News that the U.S. Treasury Department has sold its remaining financial stake and that Mary Barra will take over as GM's new CEO have put the spotlight on the company and its future. GM executives have pointed to the company's gigantic cash position as evidence of its improved finances. Analysts have raised the possibility that the company will buy back shares or institute a dividend.
As the Palm Beach Postreports, the offices of Dr. Salomon Melgen were yesterday again raided by the FBI, evidencing an ongoing investigation into what appears to be Medicare fraud. Melgen is the largest campaign donor of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). In 2012, he contributed $700,000 to a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that spent the bulk of the funds for Menendez' re-election.
The Postnotes that Menendez went to bat for Melgen on a port security deal in the Dominican Republic. These actions on Melgen's behalf were first reported by the New York Times on February 1, 2013, based on information provided by NLPC. The Washington Postreported in March that Menendez' advocacy on behalf of Melgen is the subject of a grand jury investigation in Miami.
A consumer survey taken last week on behalf of the National Legal and Policy Center confirms that public disapproval of the auto bailout continues to dog General Motors, and is likely hurting pickup truck sales, a highly profitable segment of its line.
When 500 consumers in Texas were asked, "Would your decision to buy a specific brand of truck be influenced by whether that company received financial assistance from the federal government?," 40.08% answered "absolutely." Another 11.75% responded "very likely," and 10.60% responded "likely." Thus, more than 60% said that the bailout would have some influence on their decision.
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) deserves credit for engaging Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the Cruz's recent marathon speech critical of ObamaCare. The only problem is he misrepresented key facts about his now-deceased daughter's heart condition, and her ability to receive coverage under health insurance plans.
Moreover, he did not mention that the hospital that treated his daughter Christine was the recipient of huge earmarks of taxpayer money that he arranged. One can assume that Christine was treated as a Very Important Patient. With the full implementation of ObamaCare, will political connections become increasingly important to getting expensive medical treatments, which will not be available to everybody?
Anthony Weiner may have violated federal law when he failed to disclose his lavish six-figure wedding in his financial disclosure forms, says a government accountability group.
Ethics watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center examined the federal Financial Disclosure Reports for both Weiner and long-suffering wife Huma Abedin for 2010, the year of their wedding.
The cost for the ceremony was at least $100,000 but probably ran closer to $250,000 including all accommodations, clothing and extras. Neither Weiner nor Abedin had the resources to pay for the ultra-expensive wedding, yet neither recorded gifts on their Financial Disclosure Reports for that year.
In May 2011, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate the Barack H. Obama Foundation, which was soliciting tax-deductible contributions from the public although it was not tax exempt. The Foundation is named for Obama's father and is based in Kenya. Its founder and chairman is Abon'go Malik Obama, whose father is also the father of President Obama.
At the Starbucks annual meeting on March 20, CEO Howard Schultz told a shareholder named Tom Strobhar to sell his stock if he disagreed with the company's embrace of gay marriage.
Shareholders do have this prerogative. That is the beauty of securities markets. But the issue is not so simple. Institutional investors now own the majority of shares of publicly-held companies traded on U.S. exchanges. Many people own stock through mutual and pension funds, overseen by professional managers. As a practical matter, lots of Starbucks shareholders do not have the opportunity to easily sell their stock.
The only problem with this story line is that the New York Times approached us shortly before the January 29 FBI raid on Melgen's eye practice in Florida and asked us if we had any information on Melgen. We did not seek to place it with any news organization because there was (and is) even more to the story, and we were (and are) still researching it.