The Obama Administration has become quite the expert on bankruptcy filings. The Detroit Free Press reports that the third auto bailout partaker, Ally Financial, has filed bankruptcy for its mortgage subsidiary, ResCap. The government still owns 74% of Ally, and now has an 0 for 3 record on restructuring bailed out auto-related companies outside of bankruptcy.
In the world of high-level office politics, a leave of absence set against the backdrop of scandal all too often is a prelude to resignation. That's the way it played out at the Screen Actors Guild. On April 25, the union's longtime Producers Pension and Health Plans (SAG-PPHP) CEO, Bruce Dow, resigned his position, effective April 30, in the face of a wrongful termination suit filed in California state court on March 22 by a former plan official, Craig Simmons. Dow, on disability leave since January, had announced his intent to retire in March. Simmons' suit, which follows his complaint of last September with the U.S. Department of Labor, alleges Dow and loyalists embezzled millions of dollars in SAG benefits and then stonewalled probes. The plans' interim head is its chief operating officer, Christopher Dowdell. Dow will remain as a consultant.
Now that Nissan believes it has captured all the “early adopters” of its all-electric Leaf, its North American subsidiary plans to market the 73-mile-per-charge (they used to say it was 100 miles) vehicle to “pragmatists.”
These practical patrons, according to Executive Vice President Andy Palmer, will not be drawn from the limited ranks of environmental activism, but instead will consist of everyday Joes “who will see the dollars-and-sense benefits of driving one,” reportsUSA Today.
One of the most egregious abuses of the Obama Administration's auto bailouts was the blatant favoritism evidenced in the treatment of Delphi (General Motors' parts supplier) retirees. After the Delphi bankruptcy, UAW retirees had their pensions "topped off" by General Motors, apparently with taxpayer money accessed through TARP. While the UAW retirees maintained their pension benefits, non-union, salaried retirees of Delphi lost theirs. There was no logical reason for one group to have their pensions saved while another group lost theirs, just the facts that the distributions were inequitable and the only difference between the groups was that one belonged to a powerful ally of Team Obama and the other did not.
Fisker Automotive has implied that the Texas owner of one of its Karma models committed “fraud” or “malicious intent” in blaming the luxury electric vehicle for his garage fire last week, after he had to rescue his wife, mother and child from flames that spread quickly to his house.
The company’s claim could be a fatal public relations move, as the chief investigator in Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office, Robert Baker, has also blamed the fire on the Karma. Fisker, recipient of $193 million (out of a $529 million total guarantee) loan backed by taxpayers via the Department of Energy, has suffered a series of publicity blunders including two recalls, a Karma breakdown at Consumer Reports’ test facility, a SEC investigation of its primary venture capital raisers, layoffs, and a cutoff of its loan by DOE.
Last week's earnings report from General Motors revealed a troubling statistic for shareholders. GM's market share for North America shrunk from 18.3% a year ago to 16.7% for the latest quarter. Not coincidently, a survey by Yahoo Autos revealed that a full 13% of consumers would now "never" consider purchasing a GM vehicle while another 15% are less likely to purchase. A negative perception of the auto bailout process and the continued political overtones at GM are the reasons for the boycott.
A couple of stories surfaced recently that should be of concern to voters that are analyzing how a Romney presidency would differ from the current administration. President Obama has a track record that can be examined to get a grasp of his agenda, but Governor Romney needs to further explain his positions on two key areas that many voters would expect to see a divergence with our present leader. The reports bring in to question whether or not Romney would be any different from the administrations over the past 12 years when it comes to dumping billions of taxpayer dollars into subsidies and bailouts.
Whatever else might be said of Reverend Al Sharpton, when he throws a party, he does it in style. The 14th annual conference of his New York-based nonprofit National Action Network (NAN) last month in Washington, D.C. during April 11-14 was no exception. Once more, corporations and to a lesser extent unions paid most of the tab for a well-choreographed event that featured dozens of speakers and panelists eager to affirm the aggressive black identity politics of their host. The plenary address by Attorney General Eric Holder, followed by a panel on legal issues, amounted to a group manifesto for the arrest of George Zimmerman for the highly-publicized killing - evidence points toward self-defense - of a black Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, to the delight of virtually all attendees, was arrested that day on a state second-degree murder charge.