It is mostly unanimous that Clint Eastwood's Super Bowl ad appearance was a stirring and emotional tribute to America and Detroit. The ad was heartfelt, despite the fact that bailed out Italian-owned auto company, Chrysler, paid for it. Unless NBC offered some significant discounts to their ad rates, the ad cost Chrysler about $14 million. Considering the political nature of the ad and the fact that Chrysler vehicles were not touted in the ad, I must ask the cynical question; what's in it for Italian-owned Chrysler?
Some very humorous (if not cost-effective) ads were exhibited by General Motors during this year's Super Bowl game. GM continues to freely spend its stockpile of taxpayer supplied cash reserve as it even aired a spot touting the Chevy Volt. At a cost of $3.5 million for a 30 second spot the expense equals about 15% of the total revenues GM brought in during the entire month of January for the Volt when sales fell to a dismal level of 603. What is the reasoning behind spending so much to advertise a vehicle that sells in such small numbers and is not profitable if not political? But the ad that may lead to more controversy than the Volt folly was the one in which GM claims their trucks are more dependable than Ford's; a claim that is highly debatable and not backed by studies at Consumers Reports (CR).
President Obama said in his State of the Union speech last month that he would not “walk away from the promise of clean energy,” and according to a Politico report, he “doubled-down” on the promise by highlighting (more) commitments to federal grants and incentives for wind energy, solar power and natural gas vehicles in quasi-campaign speeches out West.
I recently questioned the existence of a binding "no-strike clause" that the media reported on back when General Motors was making a plea for its taxpayer-funded bailout. The claims were that the UAW could not strike at GM or Chrysler until 2015. UAW Communications Coordinator, Tom Brune, has responded and gave a bit of clarification as to what the so-called no-strike clause actually means.
Well-respected car guy and General Motors supporter, Bob Lutz, posted a piece on Forbes that attacked "right-wing" criticism of the Chevy Volt. With all due respect and noting that I have nowhere near the credentials of Mr. Lutz, I feel it appropriate to respond to the ridiculous defense that we have seen of a vehicle that is costing taxpayers billions of dollars while offering little in return. I also have some questions of my own for Mr. Lutz and GM.
Last week yet another treasured Obama administration “Green” energy company – electric vehicle battery manufacturer Ener1 – went bankrupt, after having been granted $118 million in stimulus funds in August 2009. But the gift did more than just sustain it and subsidiary EnerDel; the cash enabled the company to bail out what would be its top customer, a Norwegian electric car company that had already been drained of cash on at least three previous occasions.
NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica last night discussed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation of the Chevy Volt fires with Gerri Willis on the Fox Business Network. Here's a transcript:
The hurry to take advantage of funds appropriated through the Recovery Act for “shovel ready” projects impelled the federal agencies – especially the Department of Energy – to hastily allocate the money, and as a result taxpayer money flowed to projects marred by fraud, corruption, poor workmanship, failing companies, and crony corporate socialism.
And now DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman has discovered the rush to distribute stimulus money may have compromised national security. In an audit report of the department’s management of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, which received $3.5 billion to modernize and improve the reliability of the U.S. power grid, the IG found that grant recipients’ plans to prevent “malicious cyber attacks” were often inadequate.
One of the defining features of union activism during the Obama years has been a heavy reliance on federal agencies and courts to do things that Congress isn't likely to do, especially now that Republicans hold a majority in the House. Sometimes merely waiting for the right ruling can pay off. On December 16, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 that the National Mediation Board (NMB), an independent body overseeing labor relations in the railroad and airline industries, had the authority to issue a rule change making it easier for unions to win representation elections.