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06/24/2015 - 12:34

Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon details today how Cheryl Mills, one of Hillary Clinton’s longtime underlings, apparently collected a paycheck from New York University at the same time she was serving as Chief of Staff of the State Department. According to the article:

After joining the State Department in the beginning of 2009, Mills continued to serve as general counsel for New York University for several months. She also sat on the board of the “NYU in Abu Dhabi Corporation,” the fundraising arm for the university’s UAE satellite campus. The school is bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi government and has been criticized by NYU professors and human rights activists for alleged labor abuses.

06/23/2015 - 12:12

Whether one sees New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as confronting or punting, it’s hard to deny he knows a crisis when he sees one.  The State Supreme Court sees one as well.  On June 9, the Court ruled 5-2 that Christie was within bounds in delaying two years of contributions, nearly $2.5 billion, to the state’s chronically underfunded public-employee pension system.  The ruling, a clear blow to the unions who brought forth the suit, for now averts a fiscal calamity.  Critics claim that Christie, expected shortly to enter the Republican presidential race, broke a law he signed in 2011, passing the buck to his successors.  Supporters counter that the ruling gives the legislature breathing room to fix a condition resulting from years of excessive union contract demands.  The latter is a familiar story in other states, too.

06/18/2015 - 08:59

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United Auto Workers union (UAW) was drawing up contingency plans to strike if upcoming negotiations with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles do not satisfy UAW officials. The UAW is leveraging the good timing of the negotiations, which are occurring at the same time as the auto industry’s cyclical top.

06/16/2015 - 08:35

Duke EdwardsportThe monument to former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers’s boondogglery – a “clean coal and carbon capture” power plant in Edwardsport, Ind. – has become the rate-busting gift that keeps on giving.

Over the weekend the Indianapolis Star reported that the facility that Duke Energy’s Indiana president called “state-of-the-art” continues to have premature breakdown and decay problems. Repair costs are likely to be passed on to customers, who have already seen their electric bills increase by up to 16 percent because of construction estimate overruns.

06/15/2015 - 13:03

Access to reliable, high-speed Internet is almost given in today’s America.  But should it be subsidized?  The Federal Communications Commission thinks it should, now more than ever.  On May 28, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal to expand the agency’s Lifeline program to include broadband Internet.  Costing about $2 billion annually in recent years, Lifeline defrays the cost of landline or mobile phone service for low-income subscribers.  Carriers and consumers share in the cost; Internet service providers soon may join them.  Funding has risen so much under Obama that the program often is called 'Obamaphone.'  Given the rampant fraud, the main issue would seem less the proper funding level than the program's very existence.

06/09/2015 - 09:56

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has been pressing for a merger with General Motors. Marchionne has been appealing to hedge funds and activist investors in a move that seems to verge on desperation. The main takeaways from the appeal are that the government bailouts of GM and Chrysler were not a long-term fix for the industry and that Mr. Marchionne is one of the few experts on the industry who is honest enough to admit it.

06/05/2015 - 07:47

Elon MuskAlt-energy/transport-tech CEO Elon Musk and his trio of companies (Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX) didn’t cooperate with the Los Angeles Times on its article that tabulated his businesses’ whopping sum of corporate welfare ($4.9 billion), and he was predictably miffed by the (accurate) portrayal.

So he went about trying to fix things on CNBC and with the Times on Monday, but not by denying the conclusions reached by reporter Jerry Hirsch, but instead by essentially pointing at fossil fuel industries and saying “they do it more.”

06/02/2015 - 09:46

Well, somebody did it, and it was the mainstream media. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Times for taking the time to research and estimate the total amount of U.S. public (local, state, and federal) subsidies for companies owned or run by South African-born Canadian-American Elon Musk.

The total amount calculated by reporter Jerry Hirsch for taxpayer-backed incentives – of many different forms, including tax credits and rebates provided to customers – was $4.9 billion. The corporate beneficiaries have been Tesla Motors and SpaceX, where Musk is CEO, and SolarCity Corp., where he is chairman. The sum does not include SpaceX’s contracts with the government to carry out programs for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

06/01/2015 - 18:30

If any one state stands out in the race to the bottom of public employee pension insolvency, Illinois would be it. And GOP Governor Bruce Rauner is steeling himself to prevent a collapse.  Rauner, a former private equity fund manager, was elected last November over Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.  He faces $111 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, or about $8,500 per resident.  The years of greed, corruption and bad luck having taken a toll, the governor and his top fiscal policy adviser, Donna Arduin, have proposed tough measures to reverse course.  So far, they haven’t won any friends among public-sector unions - or the Illinois Supreme Court, which on May 8 sided with the unions in invalidating reforms enacted in late 2013. 

05/27/2015 - 08:35

The New York Times reports that the Justice Department has concluded that there was criminal wrongdoing by General Motors as the company covered-up a deadly ignition switch defect for years. That defect has now been blamed for causing the deaths of at least 107 motorists. While many observers may have been able to come to the conclusion that GM was guilty long before the Justice Department’s recent epiphany, the bigger question now is, what’s next?

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