HAMP Mortgage Bailout Costs, Foreclosures Could Rise Sharply

Avoid foreclosureThe housing market has been on an upswing these past few years, but the mortgage bailout is far from a distant memory. Anyone doubting as much should pore through the most recent quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or SIGTARP (see pdf). That audit, among other things, concluded that nearly 800,000 homeowners enrolled in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) face higher monthly mortgage payments once their current subsidy runs out. The five-year-old HAMP was designed to prevent foreclosures at a time when home prices were sinking and unemployment was rising. Yet defaults, the precursor to foreclosures, have occurred at high rates anyway. SIGTARP Inspector General Christy Romero admits that if interest rates continue to rise, the problem may get far more pronounced.

National Legal and Policy Center several times (such as here and here) has taken a critical look … Read More ➡

Congress Must Ask Barra Why GM Hasn’t Recalled Saturn Ions with Power Steering Loss

GM recallOn Friday, General Motors expanded its recall of vehicles with an ignition switch defect, but Saturn Ions with a dangerous steering loss problem remain unrecalled, even though Chevy Cobalts and other models with the exact same defect were previously recalled. The two Congressional Committees holding hearings this week must directly ask GM CEO Mary Barra why these dangerous vehicles remain on the road.

It has now been almost two weeks since we requested that Barra immediately order a recall of Saturn Ions (MY 2004 to 2007) with defective electric power steering systems. GM had previously recalled Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s in 2010 which had the same defective part (as reported here) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has had an ongoing investigation on the defect for years. The fact that the cost to repair the steering column on the defective vehicles is much higher than … Read More ➡

GM Response to Recall Delay Victims Anything BUT Compassionate

Barra photoMerriam-Webster.com defines compassion as, “a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.” A Google search teaming the name Mary Barra with “compassionate” pulls up a host of articles fawning over General Motors’ new CEO’s handling of the company’s botched recalls which seem to have cost at least 12 American lives. Contrary to the media’s belief that GM is a compassionate entity working in the best interests of accident victims, the facts show that the response to defects in GM vehicles and subsequent recall delays has been anything BUT compassionate.

The NY Times continued its excellent investigative reporting on the GM recall delay story with an article describing how GM reacted to victims who tried to go up against the corporate giant after lives were lost in accidents involving defective GM vehicles. From that piece:

It was nearly five years ago that any doubts were

Read More ➡

Duke Energy’s Clean Coal Plant Uses More Energy Than It Produces

Duke EdwardsportNLPC has detailed extensively the wastefulness and folly of spending billions of taxpayer and consumer dollars to subsidize wind energy, solar energy and electric vehicles, all in the name of fighting climate change.

But the complicated, uneconomical boondoggle that Duke Energy built in Edwardsport, Ind. so as to burn coal gas rather than coal – and thus produce less carbon dioxide than a traditional coal plant – may be the dumbest idea to fight imaginary global warming to date. If you swallow the alarmists’ premise and “solutions,” the plant so far is a joke, as recent evidence shows it is using more energy than it produces.

Edwardsport was supposed to cost $1.9 billion but that estimate was about $1.6 billion short. The project has hacked and wheezed since 2006 under evidence of cronyism, corruption, conflicts of interest, cost overruns, delays, waste, and mismanagement, but at least it became … Read More ➡

Range Loss of EVs In Extreme Temps Has Been Reported for Years

Nissan Leaf photoLast week AAA released findings from tests it had run on three models of electric automobiles, and announced that the heavily subsidized vehicles suffer dramatic driving range loss in both cold and hot temperatures.

The news wasn’t new, but apparently the broader media noticed because the pronouncement from the nation’s largest consumer automotive club made it official. NLPC (beginning with a Consumer Reports experience) has reported from time to time on such problems since late 2011. The Tulsa World reported that AAA found driving distance for electric vehicles can be diminished up to 57 percent in extremely cold temperatures, and by one-third in very hot temperatures.

The models tested were the Ford Focus EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and the much-hyped Nissan Leaf. AAA said it rated “normal” range as 105 miles on a single charge, but that’s not even realistic for at least one Oklahoma owner.

“My … Read More ➡

Why Isn’t GM Recalling Saturn Ions With Steering Loss?

It appears that General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have still not done everything they can to assure the safety of American motorists regarding GM vehicles that have a history of dangerous defects.

The latest defect that I have uncovered relates to a loss of power steering in Saturn Ions for the model years 2004 to 2007. The same vehicles were recalled for a separate, unrelated ignition switch problem, along with the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Pontiac G5. The delay in the ignition switch recall has been blamed for the deaths of at least 12 Americans. Unfortunately, GM is equally slow in addressing the steering loss problem.

Back in December of 2010, NHTSA opened an investigation of Saturn Ions for model years 2004 through 2007. According to NHTSA’s website, the investigation was based on “846 complaints and GM identified 3,489 reports alleging sudden loss of … Read More ➡

GM Asked to Recall 382,000 Vehicles With Steering Loss Defect

GM recallThis letter is being sent today to GM CEO Mary Barra:

We ask that General Motors (the Company) recall Saturn Ions for the model years 2004 through 2007 without further delay.

These automobiles endanger the lives and safety of their drivers and passengers due to a loss of power steering, a serious problem of which the Company has been aware for several years.

According to a summary of an ongoing investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

…GM indicated that the EPS (electric power steering) system used in the subject vehicles was the same as that used in the MY2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5. In March 2010, GM recalled approximately 1.05 million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles (NHTSA recall no. 10V-073) to correct a defect with the EPS assist motor.

Although it affects many of the same vehicles, the steering loss is a problem … Read More ➡

Johnson-Crapo Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Repeal Bill Misses Larger Issues

Fannie Mae and Freddie MacNever underestimate the ability of Congress to address a problem through symbolic action. Over the weekend, Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, introduced a bill, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014, to phase out secondary mortgage lending corporations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over a five-year period and replace them with a new insurance-based system. The 442-page draft bill builds on a plan unveiled last June by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Mark Warner, D-Va. Like its predecessor, this bill rests on the faulty premise that the main problem is these companies’ continued existence. Lawmakers instead should allow them to operate, but without a federal lifeline. Significantly, the new bill makes no mention of the junior preferred and common Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders whose earnings are being seized in perpetuity by the U.S. Treasury.

Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and … Read More ➡

GM Recall Death Toll to Rise?; What Did Mary Barra Know and When Did She Know it?

crashed CobaltThe New York Times hinted that the 11 year death toll for victims who drove defective General Motors’ vehicles (that are just now being recalled) may rise from the current 12 confirmed fatalities. The Times reports, “Since 2003, GM has reported at least 78 deaths and 1,581 injuries involving the now-recalled cars, according to a review of agency records.”

It is not clear how many of the accidents involving one of the 1.6 million now-recalled vehicles were caused by the defect. The article does state that “the records mention potentially defective components” and “regulators appear to have overlooked disturbing complaints of engine shutdowns.”

The basis of the report is a new chronology of events regarding the recall. The chronology also gives evidence that now-GM CEO Mary Barra was likely aware of the problem in 2011. GM’s response to the escalating scandal was to offer drivers of its defective vehicles loaner … Read More ➡

NY Times Profiles Menendez Donors

MenendezIn today’s New York Times, Frances Robles provides new details of the extensive political giving of two wealthy Ecuadoran brothers, Roberto and William Isaias, who are wanted in their home country for allegedly looting a bank. From the Times:

“There is a certain mercenary aura on the Hill when it comes to overlap of fund-raising from wealthy individuals with problems,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a research group. “The key elements are all there: They are wealthy and have problems that are solved by the discretionary judgment of someone in the administration. They have tons of money and are willing to write checks all over the place.”

In January, a New York TV station first reported that the criminal investigation of Senator Robert Menendez had been widened to include Menendez relationship with the brothers, who are seeking to stay in the … Read More ➡