Democratic National Committee Taps Crony Corporations

Obama InvescoAs Democrats struggle to raise funds to coronate President Obama as nominee in Charlotte, N.C. this September, the role of two crony corporations increases daily.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that the president’s re-election organization will consider moving his acceptance speech at the Democrat National Convention to Bank of America Stadium.

Three unidentified Democrats “involved in the fundraising” told the news service the goal would be to sell more skyboxes to wealthy donors, apparently because fewer are available at Time Warner Cable Arena where the convention is presently scheduled.

“The almost 74,000-seat home of the Carolina Panthers professional football team would also have room for the convention to sell more floor passes close to the stage,” Bloomberg reported. “Planners for the event are struggling to meet a $36.6 million fundraising goal, according to the Democrats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.”

Back in … Read More ➡

GM Wrestles With Chevy Volt ‘Political Controversy’

It seems that General Motors is sticking to its guns as they continue to blame lack of supply for low sales of the Chevy Volt. A story by the Detroit Free Press quotes GM Vice Chairman, Steve Girsky, as saying that market demand for the Volt will not be known until around June as “…there are still dealer orders that are getting filled and there are customers that are still getting out there.”

GM’s president of North American operations, Mark Reuss, addressed criticism of the Volt by adding, “The worst thing we could do would be to back off of that technology in the wake of political controversy.” Funny how GM was sensitive to having its Chevy Volt hype considered politically driven, but now that demand for the vehicle is not living up to the hype anyone who dares criticize the taxpayer subsidization of the Volt must have a political … Read More ➡

Russian Oligarch Tries to Cash In on Obama’s Crony Capitalism

Alexi MordashThe Department of Energy announced on Friday it would not complete a low-interest, $730 million loan to Severstal North America, after it had given the company a conditional commitment in July under its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.

DOE gave no reason for its disapproval of the loan, but it had come under scrutiny about its judgment after the collapse of solar company Solyndra, which was lent $535 million in taxpayer dollars. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa called upon Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to revisit the Severstal project – which would modernize its facility in Dearborn, Mich. to produce so-called advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) – because the company “had ample means to carry out the project” and had “apparently no need for federal financing,” among other reasons. Severstal N.A. is a wholly owned subsidiary of OAO Severstal, owned by Russian tycoon Alexei Mordashov (in photo), … Read More ➡

GM Recalls Chevy Volt

Last night, NLPC Associate Fellow Paul Chesser discussed the Chevy Volt recall with Neil Cavuto on the Fox Business Network. Here’s a transcript:

Neil Cavuto:  …Forget Volt sales and that they are far from catching fire. Apparently the cars really are in danger of catching fire. GM is recalling nearly 8,000 Chevy Volts for what they’re calling enhancements. I actually hate it when people do that but that’s what they’re calling them, enhancements, aimed at preventing the battery from bursting into flames. The National Legal and Policy Center‘s Paul Chesser says that this recall should be a wake-up call for the government to just stop this nonsense. Just get out of this whole subsidizing, tax crediting, everything having to do with this stuff, right?

Paul Chesser:  Neil, you’re not supposed to call it a recall. GM’s not calling it a recall. The government’s not calling it a … Read More ➡

Chevy Volt Fleet Sales Rise, Government GM Purchases Increase

General Motors reported Chevy Volt sales of 1,529 for the month of December. The still unimpressive number is an improvement over previous months, but the gains were mostly driven by fleet sales. According to GM, 992 of the Volts sold were to retail customers while 537 went to fleet purchasers.

GM says the fleet sales were to corporate buyers and not to rental companies. The number of Volts sold to townships receiving federal grants remains unknown. The corporate sales claim makes sense as crony company, General Electric, starts to make good on its promise to buy thousands of Volts. Of course, GE benefits by selling charging stations for the vehicles.

Another interesting statistic on Volt sales can be derived from the inventory figures and number of Chevy dealerships with available Volts. GM now claims that 2,600 dealerships across the nation have Volts for sale. Given the 992 figure for Volts … Read More ➡

Taxpayers Take Hit as Solar Industry Implodes

First Solar Logo

In a year where Solyndra became the face of the solar industry’s chronic failures, even the holiday season could not prevent one last flurry of layoffs in 2011.

The Mountain Enterprise (based in Frazier Park, Calif.) reported over the weekend that First Solar, Inc. – which the media sometimes identifies as the largest solar company in the world – laid off half its employees on Friday at its Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project. The facility has been the subject of controversy in the local community over the effects it will have on land use, wildlife, and water usage.

In a September 30 press release that announced the sale of the 230-megawatt photovoltaic “farm” to Exelon (First Solar will still build, manage and operate the project), up to 400 construction jobs and as many as 15 operations positions were supposed to result. The Department of Energy, which provided a $646 … Read More ➡

Chevy Volt Gets “Worst Product” Award

General Motors’ much-hyped Chevy Volt has yet another distinction to add to its long list of commendations. We had all heard repeatedly about Motor Trends’ Car of the Year award, Consumer Reports’ recommendation and Jay Leno’s love affair with the car, but the Volt now gets a less publicized, more deserved distinction from Yahoo Finance’s 24/7 Wall Street site. The Volt has made the list of “The Worst Product Flops of 2011” and apologists for the vehicle are sure to, once again, attack the credibility of those issuing the opinion.

The Obama Administrations’ favorite car has had a rough time of late with sales goals not being met, exploding cars at NHTSA and media exposure of the high cost to taxpayers regarding Chevy Volt subsidies and federal funding of township purchases. Considering all the money spent by GM to hype the vehicle, the Worst Flop award is well-deserved. … Read More ➡

Taxpayers’ Leaf: Four Recharging Stops Needed to Go 180 Miles

Nissan Leaf photoConsumer Reports has painted an ugly picture of the Nissan Leaf, as did an early enthusiast based in Los Angeles, who described his frustrations with the heavily subsidized, all-electric car in a recent column.

Now comes what must be the definitive example of the Leaf’s impracticality – this time from a (still) hard-core advocate, whose 180-mile Tennessee trek to visit family over the holidays required four lengthy stops to keep the vehicle moving.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, set out from Knoxville on Monday with his wife and son, headed for the Nashville area. His plan (appropriately) was to follow Interstate 40 West, where a series of Cracker Barrel restaurants – equipped with so-called “fast” vehicle chargers (if you want to call 30 minutes or more “fast”) along the route – would provide an electricity security blanket as the Leaf’s charge diminished. 

Only problem … Read More ➡

Time to End $7,500 Electric Car Tax Credit

Kelly photoPennsylvania Congressman, Mike Kelly, wants to end the $7,500 tax credit that affluent purchasers of electric vehicles are currently taking advantage of. The most hyped of these vehicles has been General Motors’ Chevy Volt, but other plug-in cars, like Fiskers and Teslas, sell for close to $100,000 and make a strong case for Rep. Kelly’s argument.

Let’s look past the recent Chevy Volt fires. The value of a vehicle will be determined by the consumer. It does not matter if Jay Leno and other rich purchasers say they love their Volts. The real questions are, should taxpayers be paying the wealthy to purchase cars like the Volt, and what, exactly, are the taxpayers getting for their money?

GM has stated that the buyers (other than federally subsidized townships and crony corporation GE) of Chevy Volts have an average annual income of $175,000 and are more affluent than the … Read More ➡

‘Beyond Petroleum’ Gives Up on Solar

bp solar no more

BP Solar, the alternative energy subsidiary of the oil industry giant which received a $7.5 million Department of Energy grant only four years ago, announced last week it would exit the solar business.

The unit just closed its only U.S. manufacturing facility, in Frederick, Md., last year. The company said it would outsource its production of solar photovoltaic panels to China and India. BP CEO Tony Hayward told the Washington Post at the time it was “moving to where we can manufacture cheaply.” BP auctioned equipment in January this year from the closed plant, and in a sign the overall industry – with bankrupt Solyndra as its face – is completely tanking, an experienced industrial auctioneer told the Frederick News-Post, “We’ve been doing more solar technology auctions lately.”

So much for the excuse that U.S. solar companies “can’t compete” because of the cheap, heavily subsidized production of panels in … Read More ➡