Today I sent this letter to Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):
We strongly urge you to re-introduce legislation similar to the Government Settlement Transparency Reform Act (S.1654) in the 113th Congress.
As you know, the death toll from General Motors’ failure to act on an ignition switch defect continues to climb, now at 87. Although GM's decision to create a fund to compensate victims and their families is a step in the right direction, we are troubled by GM’s ability to write off the cost as an expense for federal tax purposes.
Like clockwork, Al Sharpton, race-hustler extraordinaire, is positioning himself as an “adviser” to the family of Walter Scott, the black man fatally shot from behind on April 4 by a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., after Scott resisted arrest. The shooting was captured on cell phone video by a nearby pedestrian. On Sunday, Rev. Sharpton spoke at a local church, praising officials for firing and prosecuting the cop, Michael Slager, for first-degree murder. He stated: “This is not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.” He added: "I didn't come to start trouble. I come to help stop trouble." Given his history of demagoguery, North Charleston officials should ignore him. For this case, like all his others, is about black and white. And Sharpton is trouble.
As we have expected for some time, Dr. Salomon Melgen was indicted today for Medicare fraud. The dollar amounts of his alleged ripoff are staggering. From 2008 to 2013, Melgen billed Medicare $190 million and received $105 million.
Hopefully, this indictment will put an end to the fiction that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) went to bat for him in a “billing dispute.” Menendez was trying to thwart a fraud investigation, and successfully enlisted the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The verdict is in from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on General Motors’ corroding brake line problem. Despite having received thousands of complaints from motorists regarding brake failure due to brake line rust, the agency claims GM does not have higher failure rates than other manufacturers. The clear evidence to the contrary makes this a classic case of what economists call "regulatory capture." First identified by Nobel laureate George Stigler (in photo) in 1971, it's when a government agency tasked with protecting the public interest instead acts to the benefit of an industry or particular company.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted this afternoon on 8 counts of bribery, 3 counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, and one count of making false statements. His largest political backer, Dr. Salomon Melgen (in photo on left) was also charged by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
The indictments were the result of a lengthy federal investigation that was initiated after media reports that Menendez attempted to intervene to thwart a Medicare-fraud investigation of Melgen, and that Menendez pressured government officials to further Melgen’s interests in a port security deal in the Dominican Republic.
A stimulus-backed Department of Energy loan program that has not been tapped for four years, and was deemed unwanted two years ago by the Government Accountability Office, is suddenly ready and willing to dole out more taxpayer millions again – to a corporation that doesn’t need it.
CNN reporter Chris Frates has identified “plenty of red flags” that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush should have seen before he joined in a business relationship with a company called InnoVida, headed by Claudio Osorio, who is now serving a 12 ½-year prison sentence for defrauding investors. Osorio's mug shot is at right.
While Osorio’s efforts to cozy up to politicians in both parties have been previously reported, the CNN report includes important new facts. From the report:
For a first-hand lesson in the timidity of corporate America, look no further than Intel Corp. This January, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker announced it would set aside $300 million by 2020 for hiring, training and promoting “underrepresented” racial minorities and women. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich revealed the plan at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas only weeks after he and other top company officials had met privately with Jesse Jackson. The announcement was a triumph for Jackson’s Silicon Valley shakedown campaign. “It’s a huge first step,” he declared, urging other tech firms to follow suit. Given the acquiescence of eBay, Google and Facebook to Jackson at shareholder meetings last May, it is no surprise those companies are doing just that.
Those in business who have to oblige the Environmental Protection Agency (or the state government agencies that carry out federal laws) on a daily basis know there’s an endless list of issues upon which the cabinet agency can (and does) interfere and obstruct. But a few recent examples reveal the extent to which the government regulators are willing to extinguish our individual freedoms.
Attention this week is trained on the Supreme Court, where a costly Obama regulation on mercury emissions from utilities’ coal-fired power plants is under a challenge. That’s a big issue that addresses whether EPA conducted a proper cost-benefit analysis for limiting those emissions, which has major implications related to the cost of electricity, but is otherwise complex for the layman.
But other areas of increased meddling are more plain – and obnoxious.
Depositions for General Motors’ executives, including CEO Mary Barra, will begin in May, according to the Detroit News. The testimonies will be at the center of class-action lawsuits (set for trial in January, 2016) against GM for its ignition switch defect cover-up and are slated to conclude in early October of this year. It will not be the first time Barra has testified under oath about the recall debacle which is now blamed for having caused 74 deaths.