Peter Flaherty's blog

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.

Ex-Car Czar Acknowledges GM Problems

Appearing today on CNBC, Steven Rattner, the former head of President Obama's auto task force, made some surprising observations that undermine his previously articulated optimism about the future of bailed-out General Motors. Although he cleverly tried to lump Ford in with GM, he acknowledged GM's recent reliance on incentives to sell autos:

Boehm Takes Aim at Legal Services Corporation in National Law Journal Interview

Boehm testifyingFrom today's National Law Journal by Tony Mauro:

Kenneth Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center in Falls Church, Va., was once a senior official of the Legal Services Corp., serving as counsel to its board of directors from 1991 to 1994.

Since then, Boehm has been one of the LSC's most persistent critics, urging reform and even elimination of the agency. Last year he testified before the House Judiciary Committee, asking members to reject a bill that would have, in his view, eliminated many of the beneficial reforms Congress enacted in 1996. He warned that if the bill passed, "once again Legal Services will be known as a federal program plagued with unaccountability and controversy." The bill died.

Rangel Claims United States is 'Not Broke'

Pete Kasperowicz of The Hill reported yesterday:

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) on Wednesday said the federal government is not broke, and that Congress should not begin cutting programs in the way that Republicans have proposed.

"Make no mistake about it, we're not broke," Rangel said in a floor discussion with Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) "It wasn't that we overcompensated public employees. They didn't cause this deficit."

Consumers Reject Chevy Volt

Part 4: GM by the Numbers

Last week, the Volt, GM's signature hybrid vehicle, turned in a lackluster performance in its first series of road tests by Consumer Reports.  CR told Reuters on Monday that "when you look at the finances, [the Volt] doesn't make any sense."  The publication went on to note that the Volt was "not particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and not particularly good as a gas vehicle... This is going to be a tough sell to the average consumer."

GM Gooses Sales With Incentives

Part 3: GM by the Numbersincentive chart

Famed investor Warren Buffett once said, "If you have to have a prayer session before raising prices by ten percent, then you've got a terrible business." So, what does it mean if your business is slashing prices month over month through discounts and other incentives? Take a look at this graph.

GM Boosts Lobbying; Hires Bailout Specialists

GM lobbying chartPart 2: GM by the Numbers

From the 1st quarter through the 4th quarter of 2010, GM's lobbying expenses more than doubled from $1.8 million to $3.89 million - a 113% increase.  After all, when the government is your largest shareholder, your company execs will inevitably be spending an inordinate amount of time cozying up to Washington politicians.

Moreover, GM's lobbyist team reads like a who's who of the government bailout business.  And why wouldn't it? When you're lobbying Washington to privatize gains for your clients and socialize their losses among taxpayers, you hire those firms with the most experience representing other notorious companies that received massive bailouts by U.S. taxpayers - Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Goldman Sachs, AIG and others.

GM Shares Will Likely Never Break Even for Taxpayers

Part 1: GM by the NumbersGM chart

News coverage of General Motors over the past few weeks has painted an increasingly glowing picture, but here's a dose of reality:  GM still has not repaid taxpayers for the bailout and it's looking less and less like taxpayers will ever be made whole.

Rangel Embarrasses Himself in Court Appearance on Behalf of Gang Member

According to a report by Irene Cornell of WCBS radio in New York City:

Congressman Charlie Rangel basically embarrassed himself by showing up in court plead for the release of 17 year-old Afrika Owes, a one-time student at the Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.

Rangel kept popping up, standing at the rail, trying to interrupt the judge. Finally, a court officer told him to sit down three times when he popped up again.

Judge Edward McLaughlin responded by saying, "I see someone standing who should not be standing, unless you have a bad back like I do." Rangel sat down.

Flaherty: Either Bust the Unions or Bust the Country

NPR logoA brief comment of mine was included today in a report by Peter Overby on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Here's a transcript:

The fight over public employee unions has exploded into a high-stakes partisan war. In Wisconsin and several other states, Republicans want to end collective bargaining with many public employee unions. Two favorite proposals would disrupt the ability of unions to build their political funds. And that would deal a major blow to the Democratic Party.

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