Plan to Discharge College Student Loans through Bankruptcy Avoids Real Issues

Higher education debt suddenly has become one of the nation’s hottest domestic issues. In response, a number of lawmakers believe they have a way to preserve both the integrity of the financial system and the opportunities to attend college. Several weeks ago the House and Senate introduced legislation to enable adults to discharge outstanding student loans in bankruptcy court that had been underwritten by private-sector lenders. The bills, the Fairness for Struggling Students Act (S.114) and the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act (H.R. 532), would repeal the portion of the 2005 bankruptcy law overhaul removing this option. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. (in photo), declared in late January, “We can no longer sit by while this student debt bomb keeps ticking.” Yet the details lead the conclusion that the legislation would enable irresponsible lending more than curb it.

It’s a growing fact: People are struggling with student loans. And more … Read More ➡

BP Finds Sustainability in Oil and Gas, Sells Off Wind

Only a month ago BP – which not long ago promoted itself as “Beyond Petroleum” – released an “energy outlook” video that projected 99 percent of America’s energy will be supplied domestically by 2030, in part because it says the U.S. will grow production from renewable sources 202 percent by that time. Just don’t expect BP to participate in the alleged alternative energy “boom.” The London-based petroleum producer announced last week it would dump its investments in U.S. wind energy projects, which were said to be worth $3.1 billion. It’s hard to believe they’re really worth that much, however, especially without government subsidies – not to mention the fact that BP is so easily discarding “assets” that are supposed to hold great value. The move follows a December 2011 announcement that the company would exit the solar business.

So where does BP think – its “outlook” notwithstanding … Read More ➡

Modica Blasts New EPA Rules on Gas

March 29, 2013- Mark Modica, Associate Fellow of the National Legal and Policy Center, debated Dan Weiss, Sr. Fellow of the Center for American Progress. Host is Gerri Willis of the Willis Report on Fox Business Network. Below is a transcript:

Gerri Willis: Well, the Environmental Protection Agency proposing new standards for cars and gas. But will these higher standards lead to higher prices at the pump. Here to weigh in, Mark Modica, associate fellow at the National Legal and Policy Center and Dan Weiss, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Dan, to you first, we know that the EPA wants to reduce sulfur by sixty percent in gas and now we hear that this is going to have a cost at the gas pump. One penny per gallon, according to the EPA, up to nine cents according to the American Petroleum Institute. Dan, who is right? Read More ➡

Chevy Volt Sales Plunge – Obama’s Flagship EV a Failure

Obama and VoltThe Chevy Volt has inarguably been the poster child for President Obama’s push to electrify America’s auto fleet. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent to produce and subsidize the plug-in electric car. For years we have heard about the supposedly amazing technology for the Volt which would lead America to energy independence, be a “game-changer” for General Motors and provide a multitude of new green jobs. Proclamations were made that supply for the wonder-car could not keep up with the demand. Well, March’s sales figures are in and give further confirmation that the lofty claims were all lies.

March’s sales for the Chevy Volt plunged over 35% from last year to a paltry 1,478 units. To put that in perspective, that’s about one Volt sold every two months per dealership. The number is also down from an only slightly less paltry 1,626 sales in February. GM’s excuses for the … Read More ➡

State Senator Malcolm Smith Busted in Scheme to Rig New York City Mayoral Race

Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith, a close crony of embattled U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), was arrested by the FBI this morning, along with several Republican party officials. According to various news reports, the arrests result from a scheme to bribe Republican officials to allow Smith to run for New York City mayor as a Republican. Smith is the former president of the State Senate.

From afar, the scheme seems bizarre, but in the context of the endemic graft in New York City, it is not far fetched at all. NLPC has played a key role in exposing a rotten political culture that is corrupt from top to bottom, and spans both parties.

In January 2010, NLPC exposed the involvement of Smith and Meeks in a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation. The group appears to have served as a slush fund for Smith, Meeks and their associates. Among … Read More ➡

No April Fools: Obama’s Green Energy Stimulus is Officially a Joke

Three Stooges photoPresident Obama’s alternative energy “stimulus,” administered through his Department of Energy by previous Secretary Steven Chu, had already become a joke because of the failures and foibles of so many recipients of Recovery Act funds. But now – as though officially commemorating the absurdity of this historically bad U.S. government program – one of its bankrupt beneficiaries has changed its name from one of simplicity to one of mockery.

Electric vehicle battery maker A123 Systems has changed its name to B456 Systems. Incorporated.

Reporting the development, headline writers across the nation rubbed their eyes, double-checked the wire information, and then – especially realizing how close they were to April Fool’s Day – had to add extra assurance to the breaking news.

For the Boston Herald, where A123 was headquartered near MIT, it was this:

A123 Systems changes name to B456 (seriously)

The Milwaukee Read More ➡

Al Gore, DiCaprio AWOL as Fisker Circles the Drain

Al Gore photo

UPDATE 11:30 a.m. Friday: Reuters reports that Fisker has hired a bankruptcy attorney.

Fisker Automotive, which has received $193 million of a $529 million Department of Energy stimulus loan guarantee and apparently still wants the rest of it, stopped making its sole electric car – the $102,000-plus Karma – last July. But only now has it decided to furlough workers for a week.

“In parallel with the process of identifying a strategic partner, Fisker is, of course, continuing to manage its day-to- day operations and has recently instituted temporary furloughs for its U.S. workforce covering the final week of March,” the company said.

The announcement came this week from the company, which despite having raised more than $1.2 billion in private capital, hasn’t been able to keep the factory lines running. In its official statement, though, Fisker said that’s quite normal.

“This is a common practice, … Read More ➡

GAO: Bad Publicity Scaring Prospects Away from Stimulus Money

MoneyThe publicity surrounding President Obama’s failed strategy to stimulate the economy, by putting clueless manager Steven Chu in charge of the Department of Energy’s lending activities, has become so bad that few “green energy economy” entrepreneurs want to accept taxpayer money any more.

That’s according to a report published earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office, which reviewed DOE’s loan programs for a briefing to both the House and Senate’s Appropriations subcommittees on Energy. Amusingly though, the Web site of DOE’s Loan Programs Office still calls itself “The Financing Force Behind America’s Clean Energy Economy.” The minor blip that undermines that premise is that DOE is having trouble getting someone to borrow $55 billion.

GAO’s director for Natural Resources and Environment, Frank Rusco, undertook an audit/investigation that evaluated three types of DOE loans: the 1703, 1705, and Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing programs. The 1705 program backed … Read More ➡

Will Politics or Law Govern Upcoming Ruling on GM Creditor Case?

There has been an important story brewing over the past several months regarding General Motors’ flawed bankruptcy process that has been widely ignored by the media. GM may have to readdress its 2009 bankruptcy settlement due to a lawsuit by a group of GM creditors against hedge funds over a settlement involving the company’s Nova Scotia debt. The creditors brought to light the fact that the company did not have its ducks in a row at the time of its 2009 bankruptcy filing and allege that GM was still in the middle of backroom negotiations with hedge funds beyond the deadline. A court decision is now imminent.

Essentially, the dealings should have been finalized and reviewed by presiding judge Robert Gerber but were not properly disclosed. This is no small matter and it is estimated that the cost to GM could be about a billion dollars, which was approximately the … Read More ➡

Apple’s 100-Percent Renewable Claim Fails the Sunlight Test

green Apple logoApple, Inc. has grown into a widely admired and one of the most valuable companies in the world, producing terrific products that generate long waiting lines every time a new innovation is announced. You would think executive leadership would not feel the need to bow to environmental pressure groups to appear it is eco-friendly.

But apparently acceptance by the likes of Greenpeace, and a warm reception at Silicon Valley liberals’ cocktail parties, still ranks high in importance in the corner offices in Cupertino, Calif. – even though their boastful claims aren’t true.

The latest example surrounds Apple’s absurd assertion that its electricity-sucking data centers, which support services like cloud computing and iTunes, are powered completely by renewable energy. Why the Mac-makers would brag about a phony achievement that is so easily debunked makes you wonder how smart they really are.

“Our goal is to power every facility at Apple … Read More ➡