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.
Nothing underscores the Obama adminstration's failure on race relations more than its reaction to the wounding by gunfire in the wee hours last Thursday of two St. Louis-area cops at a Ferguson demonstration. Police Saturday night arrested Jeffrey Williams, a 20-year-old black who admitted to firing the shots but claimed he was aiming at someone else. Civil rights activists, predictably, are condemning Williams and denouncing “racist” police. The Department of Justice, which helped create this situation, is responding similarly. The outcome could be a nationwide law enforcement disaster.
Only time will tell just how damaging the current email controversy is to Hillary Clinton. But looking back, it was the same penchant for secrecy, and disregard for rules that others must follow, that doomed her attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system in the early Nineties, the most ambitious project of her life next to running for president.
NLPC was a plaintiff in the successful 1993 lawsuit to open the meetings and records of the task force. A good historical account of the task force, and the fight over its proposals, can be found in a 1996 book titled The First Lady: A Comprehensive View of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that I co-wrote with my brother Timothy. Here is Chapter Nine titled “Health Care:”