Is paying someone an annual salary, as opposed to an hourly wage, a form of exploitation even if the work is identical? President Obama thinks it can be. On March 13, Obama issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Labor to draft a regulation to expand the eligibility of salaried workers to receive overtime pay. The threshold would rise from the current $455 a week to an estimated $970 a week; employees making less effectively would be converted to hourly status and paid at an overtime rate for work done beyond 40 hours in a given week. The president insists the issue is fairness. “Overtime is a pretty simple idea,” he said at the White House ceremony. “If you have to work more, you should get paid more.” Yet the issue isn’t so simple. Indeed, the mandate may wind up reducing employee hours – and increasing employee lawsuits.… Read More ➡
According to documents released today by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, General Motors CEO Mary Barra was made aware in 2011 of a steering loss defect in Saturn Ions that were not recalled until March 31 of this year, in apparent response to our request of March 19.
We made the recall demand after NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica found a glaring anomaly while examining documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. NHTSA had ordered a recall in March 2010 of Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s for the steering loss defect but three years later had not yet ordered a recall of Saturn Ions, which have the same power steering system.
Barra has denied having knowledge of an ignition switch flaw but has not said anything about the steering loss defect, which is a separate problem that affects many of the same vehicles, such as the … Read More ➡
Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon today reports that Michael Bright, a senior advisor to Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) who was instrumental in crafting a bill to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has a controversial background.
He worked as at Countrywide Financial from 2002 to 2006, and as a senior trader for Wachovia from 2006 to 2008. Countrywide was the center of a major financial and political scandal, and was a major contributor to the sub-prime loan crisis.
Bright joined Corker’s office in 2010, and has been a key figure in crafting the Corker-Warner housing reform bill and the successive legislation spearheaded by Sens. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) and Tim Johnson (D., S.D.).
The Corker-Warner bill has been criticized by ethics groups and free-market advocates for preserving a federal role in the secondary mortgage market, again putting taxpayers on the hook for losses.
Also … Read More ➡
It took a lawsuit by the Wall Street Journal to pry loose information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about which doctors get Medicare reimbursements.
An lo and behold, look who is topping the list. It is Dr. Salomon Melgen, Senator Robert Menendez’ biggest donor, whose eye practice in Palm Beach, Florida has been twice raided by the FBI. Apparently, Melgen was the top recipient of Medicare reimbursements for the whole county. In 2012, he received more than $20 million. The news has put renewed scrutiny on Melgen and his relationship with Menendez, which is reportedly under investigation by federal law enforcement authorities.
The probe was reportedly initiated after media reports that Menendez intervened on Melgen’s behalf with government officials regarding a Medicare billing dispute and a port security deal in the Dominican Republic.
The Reverend Al Sharpton, anchorman, preacher, politician and shakedown artist extraordinaire, has led what can be viewed as a charmed life. A lengthy expose published yesterday on The Smoking Gun website (see pdf) provides some insight as to why. Starting in 1983, the New York-based civil rights activist, who 20 years later would run for president, allegedly worked for several years as an FBI informant to avoid prosecution. In return for helping the feds root out organized crime from the entertainment industry, Sharpton since then has operated with near immunity. “The Rev” denies he worked as an informant, adding that the report simply rehashes “old news.” Yet the weight of evidence, carefully amassed by Smoking Gun editor/co-founder William Bastone, can’t be ignored. Sharpton might consider hiring an extra bodyguard.
As the host of MSNBC-TV’s “PoliticsNation” program since the summer of 2011, as well as his own radio show, Al Sharpton, now 59, … Read More ➡
On April 1st, General Motors announced that they were having “computer system” issues and that their March sales figures would not be released until later in the day. The company eventually reported a year over year sales gain of about four percent versus an estimate of less than a one percent gain. This came as GM CEO, Mary Barra, was preparing to testify at hearings over the recent GM recall scandal which is reported to have contributed to at least 13 deaths. Coincidentally, GM share price had been taking a hit as well.
My immediate thought during the sales release delay was that the company was not quite done cooking the numbers. Of course, this is speculative and just my opinion, but the fact that GM has been anything but trustworthy in the past led others to share my sentiment. One website title read, “General Motors Delays Sales Announcement Due … Read More ➡
What is it about Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and real estate? From yesterday’s New York Post:
State taxpayers were stiffed out of at least $87,000 when Rep. Charles Rangel stopped paying for the district office he rents in Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, records obtained by The Post show.
His staffers’ excuse? They lost the lease, according to state Office of General Services correspondence.
“I finally heard back from Congressman Rangel’s office and it seems we haven’t gotten the signed lease back because they lost it!” OGS real-estate specialist Sydney Allen wrote in a July 30, 2013, e-mail to a colleague that was obtained by The Post.
Rangel paid $7,253 in monthly rent on the 125th Street office he has rented since 2000, expense reports from 2012 show. But the payments stopped for all of 2013.
And the reaction of the New York state government, which is … Read More ➡
As Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced last week a renewed push to provide $16 billion in taxpayer-backed loans for “clean” technology vehicles, more bad news emerged from another stimulus-funded electric vehicle company over the weekend.
Smith Electric Vehicles, the truck company that was supposed to “make it” because electrification made so much sense for short, urban delivery routes, halted production at the end of 2013. A quarterly report at Recovery.gov attributed the stoppage to “the company’s tight cash flow situation.”
While not a beneficiary of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program that Moniz wants to revive, Smith Electric is another reason why subsidies of any type for this floundering pseudo-industry – loans, grants, tax breaks, etc. – are enormous wastes. In light of the hundreds of millions of dollars that other companies like Fisker Automotive, Ecotality and A123 Systems received, Smith’s $32 million in grants is comparatively … Read More ➡
General Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra, testified this week at government hearings on the deadly recall delay that contributed to at least 13 deaths of motorists driving GM vehicles with defective ignition switches. During that testimony Ms. Barra discussed one of GM’s ridiculous early “solutions” for problems with ignitions turning to the off position as vehicles were being driven. GM engineers designed an insert to be placed in the keys’ holes in an attempt to limit how much key chains dangled. This “fix” saved the company a few dollars in labor costs that would have been charged if they recalled the vehicles to replace the defective ignitions.
Ms. Barra did not seem to think that this solution was as ludicrous as I do and the government investigative team did not press the issue. Maybe future hearings will question why such an absurd solution was offered.
Roll Call published my piece today. It was written before the recall of 1.5 million vehicles for steering loss, in apparent response to our March 19 request.
Why did General Motors wait a full decade to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles that have been connected to 13 deaths and dozens of injuries?
Most of the questions at this week’s Congressional hearings will certainly focus on who knew what, and when they knew it. The answers, and how they relate to the 2009 government bailout of GM, could have political and criminal implications. When it comes to questions of vehicle safety, congressional investigators no doubt will find that the bailout only enabled a culture of mediocrity at GM.
The 2009 auto industry bailout meant goodbye to the “Old GM” and ushered in the “New GM.” The GM bankruptcy agreement granted legal immunity to the automaker for all incidents prior to … Read More ➡