Some Chevy Dealers Pull Plug on Volt – 2012 Sales Well Below Goals

Volt and AkersonThe final tally is in for 2012 Chevy Volt sales. The good news (which is what most headlines will trumpet) is that sales for General Motors’ flagship green vehicle tripled from 2011’s paltry 7,671 to a slightly less paltry 23,461 in 2012. The bad news is that the number is almost half of GM’s sales goal of 45,000 in 2012 for the Volt. The further bad news is that the Volt has so little demand in most regions that some dealerships are refusing to pay for required tools to repair the vehicles and are choosing to cease selling the vehicles instead.

To put the sales figures in perspective, Toyota’s hybrid Prius family achieved sales of 236,659 in 2012; over ten times that of the Volt! You wouldn’t know that from the amount of hype the Volt has gotten compared to the Prius. Furthermore, taxpayers had to foot the bill for … Read More ➡

Another Meeks Crony Under Investigation

Sampson photoThe New York Post reported today that there is a federal probe of New York State Senator John Sampson, a political ally of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). Sampson is former Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.

Sources told the Post that the Sampson probe stems from a broader federal investigation of Meeks. Sampson is also linked to convicted mortgage fraudster Edul Ahmad, who is a facing a possible lengthy prison sentence in connection with his guilty plea in a mortgage fraud case. State Senator Sampson performed legal work for Ahmad and has been publicly criticized for notarizing a document for one of Ahmad’s employees despite having a lapsed notary license.

Federal interest in Meeks appears to have begun in 2010 after the National Legal and Policy Center exposed the ties between Meeks and some of his Queens, NY political allies and a questionable charity which appears to have falsely … Read More ➡

Fiscal Cliff Deal Saves Big Wind for Another Year

wind turbineThe “fiscal cliff” agreement was not only low-lighted by a wholesale surrender on taxes and spending by the Republicans, but also featured special favors and breaks for recreational industries like film production ($430 million) and motorsports ($70 million), as well as the sector that has been oft-criticized since President Obama entered the White House: renewable energy.

Specifically, while nothing new came through for often-bashed electric automobiles, tax credits (all continuations of credits that were set to expire) were extended to plug-in motorcycles. Buyers are allowed to deduct from their tax bills 10 percent of the cost of the two- (or three-)wheelers, or $2,500, whichever is less. This parallels the $7,500 federal tax credit for four-wheeled electric cars such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. The breaks are projected to cost taxpayers $4 million over the next two years.

The cliff aversion perversion also delivered for the … Read More ➡

FHA May Be Headed for a Treasury Department Bailout

“Is the Federal Housing Administration the next bailout?” The question has become all too common these past several months. It’s also the title of a policy forum held December 13 at the free-market Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Based on the evidence, it would be hard to avoid concluding “yes.” Three speakers highly familiar with the workings of FHA – Mark Calabria, Edward Pinto and Michael Frantantoni – explained why the mortgage insurance agency is a prime candidate for a first-time-ever dose of taxpayer support. FHA, part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, aggressively ramped up activity following the banking collapse of 2008. Accordingly, the default rate on its more than $1.15 trillion portfolio has shot up. The Treasury Department in the near future may be forced to cover a deficit of $50 billion or more.

National Legal and Policy Center in October and again in NovemberRead More ➡

The Fiscal Cliff and the Ethics of Capitulation

Obama and BoehnerThe more the media covers the “fiscal cliff” fiasco, the more perspective is lost. It is really quite simple. Because the Republicans unilaterally jettisoned their trademark  anti-tax stance, they will get nothing in return. The Democrats are not going to cut spending. In fact, the new tax revenues will fuel new spending, that will be leveraged into even more debt.

The pre-emptive Republican capitulation decoupled the tax issue from the spending issue, precluding any “Grand Bargain'” or even token spending cuts. The Democrats trademark stance of protecting social programs like Medicare and Social Security from cuts is intact.  Thus, Obama is off the hook. He will pay no political price with his own base, nor will he feel any pressure to provide leadership in averting national bankruptcy.

Republicans, on the other hand, have crossed their own base, with nothing to show for it. The GOP, which won control of the … Read More ➡

2012: The Year of Taxpayer ‘Green’ Waste

Obama InvescoThe past year was a dismal one for the passé idea that government would use taxpayer dollars responsibly, and that was nowhere more evident than with President Obama’s initiatives to promote “clean” energy technology companies and projects with so-called “stimulus” funds and other public money. NLPC reported extensively on some of the most egregious examples.

Solar Favors Don’t Stop Fizzle

Solyndra went bankrupt in 2011, and the reverberations over $535 million in lost taxpayer money were felt throughout 2012. Money still flowed out from the Department of Energy and its stimulus stash, but Congressional Republicans’ scrutiny of big projects – especially in the Loan Program Office –paralyzed some new projects.

The year began with BP, which not long ago downplayed fossil fuels in favor of a “Beyond Petroleum” motto, exiting the solar business despite having received a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. government … Read More ➡

CNN Looks at Threats to Office of Congressional Ethics

I was interviewed in a report that aired last night by Scott Bronstein, Joe Johns, and Rahel Solomon of CNN’s Special Investigations Unit. The text of this very well done story appears below. One point not made in the report is that without the Office of Congressional Ethics, our exposé of Rep. Charles Rangel’s acceptance of corporate-funded Caribbean junkets may have been ignored.

In November 2008, NLPC President Peter Flaherty tagged along on a Rangel trip to sunny St. Maarten. He snapped photos and made audio recordings evidencing that big corporations like Citigroup, in violation of House Rules, underwrote the festivities. Based on media coverage we generated, OCE took up the case. It produced a detailed report based on Flaherty’s materials, and referred it to the Ethics Committee for action.  The Ethics Committee “admonished” Rangel who was soon after forced to resign his Ways and Means Chairmanship.

More recent events … Read More ➡

Fisker Failures May Prevent Delaware From Getting Its Money Back

Fisker logoAmidst its ongoing financial problems and search for a “strategic alliance” that it says is not an attempt to sell the company, Fisker Automotive continues to make its current business partners extremely nervous.

In particular are those “investors” that represent the taxpayers of Delaware, who foolishly committed $21 million in public money to the California-based company, in exchange for a promise to take over a former General Motors manufacturing plant to build its next electric car, the Atlantic. But rather than generate thousands of “green jobs,” instead the factory sits dormant while Gov. Jack Markell and the state’s economic development officials stew. And now the state has learned that if Fisker goes belly-up or fails to operate in Delaware, the repayment of the funds it has outlaid is subordinate to the rights of other lenders to get their money back, including the U.S. government.

The problem isn’t just … Read More ➡

GM Buyback of Treasury Shares – Why Now?

General Motors moved quickly to complete its buyback of 200 million shares from the US Treasury Department before year end. It is a welcome sign that the Obama Administration is finally beginning to exit taxpayers’ GM stake, a move that could have been made a year and a half ago when share price was closer to $30. While some felt it was never the place of Government to gamble taxpayer money on Wall Street by market timing the exit of Treasury’s GM stake, others argued that taxpayers would be better served by waiting until GM share price rose to at least over the $33 IPO price of two years ago.

Of course, the presidential election affected the politically-sensitive decision as well, as no one in the Obama Administration would suggest locking in losses for American taxpayers prior to Election Day. Now the question must be asked, what drove the decision … Read More ➡

Disguised Emails Another Example of Obama Disregard for Public Accountability

Lisa JacksonCongressional overseers seek to determine whether the cabinet agencies under President Obama (specifically the Environmental Protection Agency), who promised “an unprecedented level of openness in government,” have hidden communications about official business with the use of private and alias email accounts.

Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), wrote in a Dec. 13 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson “that you describe fully the nature and extent of this practice.” Chris Horner, author of The Liberal War on Transparency, first discovered the existence of the accounts as he researched the book. He and his colleagues at the Competitive Enterprise Institute have sued for records from the alias accounts.

At the moment the concern is over transparency, although there are countless potentially embarrassing issues that could have been addressed by Jackson and others … Read More ➡

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