CFOs: Obamacare Will Curtail Hiring, Benefits Offered

Obama doctor coatA survey of 400 chief financial officers at U.S. firms released yesterday said that if the country is moving toward a jobs recovery, then Obamacare will stunt it.

The findings, which received little media attention, were part of a quarterly review of corporate leaders whose fingers are on the pulse of the plans of their companies. Conducted jointly by Duke University’s highly regarded Fuqua School of Business and CFO Magazine, many of the questions have to do with how the officers feel about the outlook of the economy, but also give indications about what they will do in the future. In the final survey of 2013 (they have conducted it for 71 consecutive quarters), 48 percent of U.S. CFOs said they will consider reducing employment because of the Affordable Care Act. More than forty percent said they might move some workers to part-time status to avoid employer mandates within the … Read More ➡

When Will General Motors Repay Taxpayers $10 Billion?; Bailed-Out Automaker Sits on Cash Hoard

pile of cashI will hold a press conference on Monday, December 16 at 11:00am to pose key questions to General Motors leadership, including whether and when the company will repay to taxpayers the $10 billion direct cost of the auto bailout.

News that the U.S. Treasury Department has sold its remaining financial stake and that Mary Barra will take over as GM’s new CEO have put the spotlight on the company and its future. GM executives have pointed to the company’s gigantic cash position as evidence of its improved finances. Analysts have raised the possibility that the company will buy back shares or institute a dividend.

The NLPC press event will precede current Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson’s scheduled luncheon to present an update on the company’s progress before a National Press Club audience in Washington, DC.

NLPC has been a persistent critic of the auto bailout. NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica, … Read More ➡

Obama Administration OKs Bird Killing— As Long As Its by Windmill

Duke Energy turbineFriday’s announcement by the Obama administration that it will allow wind energy companies to kill certain bird species for 30 years without legal ramifications shows that its $1 million paltry fine of Duke Energy for avian slayings a week earlier was just for show.

Slamming the president for the application of double standards, not enforcing laws it doesn’t like, and acting unilaterally without Congressional authority is nothing new. It’s not often, though, you see such an obvious policy contradiction appear within such a short period of time. And now, without need to worry about re-election, he can pit his environmental constituencies against each other (wildlife protection vs. green energy promotion).

The latest decision, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, extends the maximum possible term for permits to “take” (“molest or disturb”… “take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import…”) from … Read More ➡

GM’s Balance Sheet Not as Healthy as it Looks

GM UAW logosOne of the major architects of the General Motors bankruptcy process, Harry Wilson, recently gave a very optimistic outlook for GM future share price. Mr. Wilson was a member of President Obama’s Auto Task Force, and was an instrumental player in seeing that UAW interests were put ahead of other creditors, like old GM bondholders.

Automotive News now reports that Mr. Wilson feels that GM may be a target for activists because of their “huge” cash hoard. According to the piece:

“Any company that isn’t efficient about capital allocation is a target for activists,” said Wilson, who is now a restructuring adviser at Maeva Group LLC in Westchester, N.Y. “GM has a huge cash hoard and they are generating lots more cash each year, so they need to be thoughtful about that.”

The problem with Mr. Wilson’s statement regarding GM’s balance sheet improving is that it just isn’t true. The … Read More ➡

Meeks Crony Dorothy Ogundu Arrested For Stealing $370K; Where is IRS?

Ogundu perp walkOn the basis of information brought to light by NLPC, Nigerian-born physician Dorothy Ogundu was arrested yesterday. She is charged with multiple counts of grand larceny, forgery and falsifying business records by the New York State Attorney General.

Ogundu ran a Queens, New York health clinic for which Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) secured $380,500 in federal funds. She is a prominent Meeks supporter, and until yesterday, a fixture of the Queens political scene.

After reviewing Meeks’ earmarks in 2011, NLPC decided to take a closer look at Angeldocs, Inc., which operates the Aki Life Health Center. The New York Post published a major exposé of the Center in April 2012, based on information provided on an exclusive basis by NLPC. Subsequently, NLPC filed a Complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Angeldocs, alleging self-dealing and inurement by Ogundu. 

A visit to the clinic by Post reporters found it “dusty, … Read More ➡

Delaware Taxpayers Out $21M Thanks to DOE’s Fisker Flop

A123 logoThere’s a postscript to the Fisker Automotive bankruptcy story from earlier this week: The actions by the Department of Energy in awarding the unworthy luxury electric automaker a $529 million loan gave them validation, to the point where the state of Delaware made its own “investment” with state taxpayers’ money in the company.

Now that the collapse is official, Delawareans are out too.

To be sure, state government officials are accountable for their own foolish decisions. They 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 second electric car model, the Atlantic. But rather than generate thousands of “green jobs,” instead the factory sat dormant while Gov. Jack Markell and the state’s economic development officials waited for Fisker to come and resurrect the plant to life again. It never happened, and … Read More ➡

Electricity for Your EV: A New Entitlement?

Volt recharging photoAn incident blew up in the media this week, in which a Georgia owner of an electric car was arrested, after he plugged in his Nissan Leaf at a DeKalb County middle school without permission.

Except, unable to resist a good spin, journalists glommed on to the sympathetic portrayal of the Leaf owner’s seeming inconsequential crime: He only stole a nickel’s worth of electricity. If you didn’t dig very far into the story, you’d see the portrayal of driver Kaveh Kamooneh victimized by a cold, unyielding police officer in the Atlanta suburb of Chamblee. Worse, the officer’s boss, Sergeant Ernesto Ford, said, “I’m not sure how much electricity he stole. He broke the law. He stole something that wasn’t his.”

You’d think from the account that Kamooneh was the electric vehicle-driving version of Jean Valjean, the peasant of the novel Les Miserables who received a five-year sentence for stealing Read More ➡

Hard to Take the German Absolution of Tesla Fires Seriously

Tesla Tenn fireFollowing incidents in Washington state, Mexico and Tennessee, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it would probe fires that occurred recently over a six week period in Tesla Motors’ electric Model S.

And this week, as revealed in a Detroit News story, the NHTSA looks like they’re serious – at least more serious than Germany’s transportation safety authority.

Why bring up Germany? Because as the regulatory heat bears down in the U.S. on Tesla and high-profile CEO Elon Musk, they have trotted out the Eastern Europe nation to demonstrate that they’ve been absolved of any culpability in the fires. The media that has mostly fawned over the electric automaker helpfully amplified the development, which certainly Musk welcomed. He even got a slight recovery in the company stock price as a result.

On Monday Tesla posted a press release that claimed the company received an inquiry … Read More ➡

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 … Read More ➡

Duke Energy Fine for Bird Kills is All Show, No Substance

Duke Energy turbineLast week’s punishment/settlement between the Department of Justice and Duke Energy over bird deaths caused by its wind turbines gives evidence that the Obama administration needed a scapegoat, to defuse accusations that it applies a double-standard in enforcement of wildlife laws.

The Friday before Thanksgiving both parties announced that Duke would pay $1 million for the deaths of more than 160 birds that are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The incidents occurred over the last four years at two Wyoming sites operated by the utility’s Duke Energy Renewables subsidiary.

“This case represents the first criminal conviction under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for unlawful avian takings at wind projects,” said Robert Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, in a statement.

That’s nice. The problem is the timing of the action coincided with a response by the Justice Department to Republican … Read More ➡

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