"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.
The 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.
The 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.
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.
Amidst 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.