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 ➡
Congressional 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 ➡
Today the House Ethics Committee announced that it was taking no action against Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) who secretly took a $40,000 payment from an individual who subsequently pled guilty in a multi-million-dollar mortgage scam.
In 2007, Meeks received $40,000 from a “businessman,” Edul Ahmad. Under the Ethics in Government Act, Congressmen are required to disclose such financial transactions on their annual Financial Disclosure Reports. Meeks failed to disclose the transaction on his reports for 2007, 2008 and 2009.
In 2010, the New York Daily News reported, “Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks made no payments for three years on a secret $40,000 personal loan – and repaid the cash only when the FBI started asking questions, the Daily News has learned.”
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigated the matter and found that the claim by Meeks that the $40,000 was a loan was questionable since there was no indication … Read More ➡
Let’s all rejoice! The Treasury Department is finally beginning to unload the taxpayers’ stake in General Motors after a three and a half year stint of government involvement in the company. While the decision to get taxpayers out of the private sector is the correct one, the move is hardly a cure-all for what ails GM. And despite reports to the contrary, this does not bring closure to all groups that were involved in the unprecedented intrusion of government into the private sector that saw politically-powerful groups like the UAW receive favorable treatment over other classes.
Let’s start by reviewing the GM buyback deal that was just announced. Of the $50 billion or so of taxpayer money that went to GM, about $40 billion went towards the purchase of approximately 800 million shares of stock in “New” GM. That comes out to roughly $50 a share paid by taxpayers. GM … Read More ➡
A top Nissan official has said the company was “arrogant” in its marketing and sales approach for the all-electric Leaf, which received a $1.4 billion stimulus loan guarantee from President Obama’s Department of Energy.
Not that the company is going to return taxpayers their money, since the premise upon which Nissan received the loan were ridiculously high production estimates. Too much in expenses would have to be eaten otherwise.
“We were a little bit arrogant as a manufacturer when we went to the 50-state rollout,” said Al Castignetti, Nissan’s vice president for sales, to Automotive News in late November. “We had assumed that there were people just waiting for the vehicle who would raise their hand and say, ‘Give me a Leaf, give me a Leaf, give me a Leaf.’”
Considering there weren’t many people “raising their hands” in the few states where Nissan did roll out the … Read More ➡
This story has been updated at the end.
Fisker Automotive finally received a good review for the only model it has produced – the highly subsidized, widely panned and sometimes burned extended-range electric Karma – from automobile aficionado Jay Leno.
But that didn’t prevent the recipient of $193 million out of President Obama’s green stimulus from laying off another 40 workers. According to the Orange County Register, Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher said the company – which had been awarded a $529 million loan guarantee by the Department of Energy only to see it halted due to unspecified shortcomings – had to halt production because its bankrupt supplier, A123 Systems, left them with a low battery inventory. Ormisher said Fisker has laid off about half its employees since February.
So Fisker’s woes – both deriving from A123 and self-inflicted – continue, and “The Tonight Show” host’s … Read More ➡
On Wednesday, I took part in a press conference with leaders of other ethics groups to show support for the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which should not be confused with the House Ethics Committee.
OCE was established in 2008 and is slightly more independent that the Ethics Committee because its board is comprised of former members of Congress and private citizens, rather than sitting members. OCE cannot sanction members but can only make referrals to the Ethics Committee.
Its role and importance were demonstrated in the Charles Rangel case. NLPC President Peter Flaherty tagged along on a Caribbean junket in November 2008 to sunny St. Maarten. He snapped photos and made audio recordings evidencing that the event was underwritten by big corporations like Citigroup, in violation of House Rules. OCE took up the case, produced a detailed report based on Flaherty’s materials, and referred it to the Ethics Committee … Read More ➡
It would appear that there is a bit of a Mexican standoff regarding the sale of General Motors stock by the three major holders. The US government (aka taxpayers), the UAW and the Canadian government have a combined ownership stake in GM of about 50%. If any of these three were to dump their shares on the market, the remaining holders will see a drop in the value of their shares due to the dilutive effect of the new shares hitting the market. Recent stories regarding the mindset of the Canadian government reveal that they will mirror the market-timing philosophy of the US government by hanging on to their stake. The decision may be driven by closed door meetings with US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner.
According to thetruthaboutcars.com, “(Canadian) Finance Minister Flaherty said he has had ‘continuing discussions’ on the subject of the GM stake with U.S. Treasury Secretary … Read More ➡
The auction for the assets and business of green stimulus recipient A123 Systems has been won by Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group, which aggressively sought the electric vehicle battery maker at least since the summer.
The successful bid – reported to be about $260 million – follows weeks of warnings by the U.S. government, congressmen and a group of former military and other leaders that transfer of the Massachusetts-based company would compromise American jobs, technology and security. The auction attempts to address some of those concerns, as Wanxiang was not awarded any of A123’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense. Instead the company’s “government business,” including all its military contracts, was awarded to Illinois-based Navitas Systems.
“We think we have structured this transaction to address potential national security concerns expressed during the review of our previous investment agreement with Wanxiang announced in August as well as to … Read More ➡
General Motors is making more ridiculous claims on the Chevy Volt by flooding the web with stories of how 100 million electric miles have been driven since the Volt’s much-hyped inception. Let’s put the boasting in perspective. In the two plus years that it took for Volt drivers to put on 100 million miles, gas-powered vehicles logged over 5 TRILLION miles in the US. It would take only 5,000 cars traveling 10,000 miles a year to log 100 million miles in two years. The Volt has fallen far short of sales goals and has cost taxpayers billions of dollars in subsidies to reach the much-publicized but unimpressive milestone. So, what’s the net reduction in gas usage in the US as a result of the Volt’s accomplishment? Less than .002%.
Only the most extreme green energy ideologue and Volt proponent could brag about saving less than .002% of gas at the … Read More ➡