FCC Seeks to Expand ‘Obamaphone’ Boondoggle to the Internet

Access to reliable, high-speed Internet is almost given in today’s America.  But should it be subsidized?  The Federal Communications Commission thinks it should, now more than ever.  On May 28, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal to expand the agency’s Lifeline program to include broadband Internet.  Costing about $2 billion annually in recent years, Lifeline defrays the cost of landline or mobile phone service for low-income subscribers.  Carriers and consumers share in the cost; Internet service providers soon may join them.  Funding has risen so much under Obama that the program often is called 'Obamaphone.'  Given the rampant fraud, the main issue would seem less the proper funding level than the program's very existence.

Obamaphone, or whatever one wishes to call it, long predated the Obama presidency.  The FCC created Lifeline in 1984 during the Reagan years as a means of enabling telecom companies to offer monthly service …

Questions Upton Committee MUST Ask GM About Recall Delay

Fred Upton photoThe following letter was sent today to Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

As your committee prepares for the upcoming House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the recent GM recall, I urge you to use every opportunity to examine what, if any, influence the U.S. government’s ownership of GM has had on this troubling failure to address the dangerously flawed vehicles. In addition, we urge your committee to consider posing the following questions to panelists at your hearing:

1.     In late 2009, GM sued supplier JTEKT North America for $30 million over faulty steering columns associated with the very same vehicles recalled over the most recent ignition switch issue. Does GM intend to sue Delphi Mechatronics for the faulty ignition switch issues?

2.     In 2005, GM settled a lawsuit with Amber Marie Rose, a 16 year old killed in a Cobalt crash when …

More Bankruptcies Just Mark of ‘Success’ for Dept. of Energy

Fisker logoFisker Automotive declared bankruptcy last week, inspiring the eternally optimistic Obama Department of Energy to crow about its achievements again.

“Recognizing that these investments would include some risk, Congress established a loan loss reserve for the program, and the Energy Department built in strong safeguards to protect the taxpayer if companies could not meet their obligations,” Bill Gibbons, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News. “Because of these actions…the Energy Department has protected nearly three-quarters of our original commitment to Fisker Automotive.”

Leave to the Obama administration hucksters to sell yet another green energy loser as a gain for the taxpayers. With this bankruptcy, it’s a $139 million loss that DOE gets to spin. The stellar defenders of the public purse originally thought Fisker was worth a $529 million risk, but quickly recognized that mistake and stopped paying at $193 million. Ever since it’s been a …

Lisa Jackson Hires Lawyer for Email Concealment Fiasco

Lisa Jackson phptpIn a sign her troubles have undergone a significant expansion, the Washington Free Beacon reported last week that former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has hired a lawyer as new details of her use of private email accounts to conduct official government business were revealed.

The agency and its previous head have still breathed easy despite months of inquiries and Freedom of Information Act requests from Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and American Tradition Institute. Jackson and enviro-crats have been shielded by colleagues’ efforts to block access to records, delay their delivery, or conceal damning information with redactions. Nevertheless the indefatigable Horner has continued to pepper the agency with new requests from new angles almost every time he discovers a new hint of malfeasance revealed from previous requests.

What seems to have alarmed Jackson – who is now Apple’s top environmental officer – is the revelation that …

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 …

Big Obama Donor ‘Investigated’ DOE Loan Program

Herbert Allison

When is a government watchdog not really a watchdog?

When he rolls over and lays at the feet of his master rather than sink his teeth into a program that he’s been tasked to guard.

Such appears to be the (unsurprising) case with Herbert Allison, Jr. (pictured), a former Wall Street executive (Merrill Lynch and TIAA-CREF) until he was appointed president and CEO of Fannie Mae in 2008, after it was put into conservatorship. Subsequently President Obama named (and the Senate confirmed) him as overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion asset acquisition fund that bailed out Wall Street financial institutions. He served in that role for about 15 months, until September 2010.

But it’s Allison’s role as a special investigator of the Department of Energy’s stimulus-funded loan program that is sparking curiosity, as explained in an Associated Press story published yesterday. Not …

Integrity of Fisker Capital Funding is Questioned

A123 logo

How did a start-up electric car company that raised more than $1 billion suddenly fail to meet government-lending standards, to the point where it can no longer draw on an awarded Department of Energy loan and has therefore halted renovation work on a Delaware plant?

 

That’s one curiosity about Fisker Automotive, a high-end manufacturer that apparently has burned through so much cash that it does not want to move forward with plans to produce an electric family sedan without the assurance that another $336 million will come forth from taxpayers. Despite having a reported $850 million in private investment and $193 million from that $529 million loan, Fisker laid off 65-or-so employees last week as DOE froze payments.

DOE’s action was attributed to Fisker’s failure to attain certain unidentified “milestones.” Fisker had projected the delivery of 15,000 Karmas in 2012, at a showroom cost of $102,000 for the …

Unions Are Major Recipients of Obama Health Care Waivers

Doctors in conferenceWhen President Obama in March 2010 signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), the nation’s most expensive social legislation in decades, he announced, “The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see.” Yet what the law seems to have set in motion is a rush to obtain exemptions from group coverage requirements. New data show nearly 1,400 insurers, employers, unions and other organizations thus far have received waivers from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from a requirement that forces group health plans to offer at least $750,000 in payouts per enrollee this year, a figure set to rise even higher until its phase-out in 2014. The situation is emerging as a lesson in how government, once enlarged, becomes a favor factory. And unions are receiving lots of favors.

A …