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10/27/2015 - 10:40

Tesla logoImagine a product that performs so well, that an evaluator says it busted through the top of its grade scale, yet that same scorer can’t recommend the product due to issues of reliability.

That would be a seeming disconnect in the real world, but in this case we are talking about the immortal Tesla Model S. The illogical appraiser is Consumer Reports.

10/19/2015 - 12:51

Decades ago, the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund was a project of organized crime.  In the future, it may well be a project of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency that insures pension plans against insolvency.  Ironically, this could put PBGC itself at risk.  This September, the troubled fund, which enrolls over 400,000 active and retired union members in 37 states, filed a restructuring plan with the Treasury Department proposing benefit cuts of nearly 23 percent.  The action is the first under a new law.  Central States Executive Director-General Counsel Thomas Nyhan explains:  “The longer we wait to act, the larger the benefit reductions will have to be.”  Yet the union, with help from Congress, helped bring about this dilemma.

10/19/2015 - 12:00

Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon reports today that emails released by the State Department show that a Clinton Foundation donor asked the State Department to help his company secure loans from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to build Marriott Hotels in Haiti.

The circumstances add to the impression that under Hillary Clinton the State Department often resembled a commercial enterprise, with the proceeds pouring into the Clinton Foundation. As the article details, Marriott International, its partners and affiliates, and the developer, Richard L. Friedman of Boston, flooded the Clinton Foundation with donations. From the article:

10/15/2015 - 10:37

Smith Electric logoThe painful and fruitless existence of Smith Electric Vehicles, waster of $32 million in U.S. taxpayer funds, has been extended after yet another near bankruptcy.

The Kansas City electric delivery truck manufacturer, whose actual business negotiates in government grants, tax breaks and other subsidies – rather than a product anyone actually wants to pay for – had announced at the end of September, via its British investor Tanfield Group, that it needed to raise $4.5 million by October 2nd and $10 million by the end of the month. Without the cash infusion, Tanfield said, “the company is likely to be forced to seek protection under US bankruptcy laws or close down its operations.”

10/14/2015 - 09:30

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the UAW’s voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA) fund was underfunded by approximately $20.7 billion in 2014, which was the latest reported period. The shortfall has grown from the previously reported 2013 figure when the trust was estimated to be 93% funded. The latest funding figure, which was hurt by growing medical benefits costs, plummeted to 74% in one year.

10/07/2015 - 14:58

The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) who was seeking to overturn his Censure by the House of Representatives. Lower courts had ruled that they have no jurisdiction over internal workings of the House.

Rangel was Censured by the by the entire House of Representatives on December 2, 2010 by a vote of 333-79, the first such action in 27 years.

The action was the result, in part, of investigations by NLPC. Among the counts alleged by the Ethics Committee were Rangel’s failure to pay taxes on rental income from a Dominican Republic beach house, and his failure to report hundreds of thousands in income and assets on his financial disclosure forms.

10/07/2015 - 12:42

If there is an issue that has united popular indignation, Left and Right alike, executive compensation surely ranks near or at the top.  But the bipartisan opposition to recent pay increases for the CEOs of mortgage conduits Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while highly understandable, misses the larger point.  Several months ago, these companies, which account for nearly half the outstanding home mortgage debt in the U.S. and which since 2008 have been wards of the government, announced plans to raise annual CEO pay from $600,000 to $4 million.  Their overseer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, approved the hikes.  In response, Congress overwhelmingly has passed (or is on the verge of passing) bills to roll them back.  Lawmakers would do better to allow the firms to operate freely and without subsidies.

10/07/2015 - 08:22

General Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra, continued to project a bright future for the automaker during a recent presentation to shareholders. The prognostication gave a rosy appraisement for financial estimates as far out as 2020, when Barra says GM will have between $9 billion to $10 billion in free cash flow. Her crystal ball also shows that electric cars will compete with gas-powered vehicles by 2022 and that global car sales will increase by 50% to 130 million by the year 2030.

10/05/2015 - 08:01

Frito Lay Electric TruckAn electric truck manufacturer that was awarded $32 million from President Obama’s stimulus program has informed one of its investors that it is on the verge of bankruptcy, if it did not raise $4.5 million by Friday and $10 million by the end of October.

The troubled saga of Smith Electric Vehicles should be particularly sickening for taxpayers because it sprouted out of a similar failed company, of the same name, in Great Britain. Smith, as part of the U.K.-based Tanfield Group, stumbled out of Europe and re-established itself in Kansas City – opportunistically at the time that President Obama was rolling out his plans to “stimulate” the “green” energy sector in early 2009.

09/25/2015 - 11:24

John Boehner’s Speakership was a setback for Congressional ethics. He backslid on a number of important reforms, and helped to return the Ethics Committee to its traditional role of covering up wrongdoing by incumbent members of Congress.

Boehner ally Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA), the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, is currently orchestrating a whitewash of apparent House rules violations related to a junket by ten House members to Azerbaijan in 2013.

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