Why Won’t Rep. Meeks Talk About Vegas Trip?

Meeks photoRep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) held what looks like a fundraiser in Las Vegas but he reported no donations from the event. Talk about a bad bet. According to Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein in today’s New York Post:

Meeks purported to hold a fund-raiser in Sin City for his Build America Political Action Committee, but his office refused to say when it took place or who attended. The financial disclosures for the Queens Democrat were similarly vague.

The latest disclosure for the PAC — covering Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, 2010 — shows the group spent $8,063 at the posh Aria resort in Las Vegas for “catering, site rental and lodging.”

During the same period, the PAC took in no donations but paid out more than $18,000 to professional fundraisers. As we have noted in the past, Meeks has been spotted in casinos in at least three countries. It … Read More ➡

Hal Rogers Spares LSC; Is GOP Serious About Spending Cuts?

Hal Rogers photoIn the budget cuts announced today by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is slated for a token $75 million reduction. This is a genuine outrage. LSC should have been zeroed out completely.

In a statement today titled “CR Spending Cuts Go Deep,” Rogers says, “Make no mistake, these cuts are not low hanging fruit.” This is nonsense. Defunding the politicized and scandal-ridden LSC should have been easy. If the Republican Congress can’t even cut off LSC, how will it ever make the tough choices necessary to reduce the deficit?

In 2010, LSC received $420 million in federal funds. It supports 136 local groups to provide civil (not criminal) day-to-day legal help to poor people. Unfortunately, many LSC-funded lawyers instead spend their time on Left-wing political and social causes.

When Republicans won control of the House in 1994, they passed a three-year phase out of LSC. … Read More ➡

Obama’s Chamber Speech a Tangle of Contradictions

In a speech today to the Chamber of Commerce, Barack Obama called for a reduction in corporate tax rates and simplification of the tax code, but he then pitched alternative energy, which is based wholly on tax breaks and subsidies. He said spending must be reduced and then again plugged the boondoggle of high-speed rail, which only benefits politically-connected contractors and unions, and bond traders. He said he favored free trade and then claimed that inventing something here and manufacturing it abroad “breaks the social compact.”

Obama started by saying that Americans have had their faith shakened in the institution of business. This is not true. Americans are hard-working and entrepreneurial. People are upset with the excesses of Wall Street that have been rewarded with bailouts that Obama has now institutionalized. Executives of big banks and car companies know that they will never be allowed to fail. They are running … Read More ➡

Is Dan Akerson Driving GM Off a Cliff?

Akerson photoAs Karl Marx once said, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. In last year’s epic auto chronicle, Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster, author Paul Ingrassia wrote about the catastrophic decline of the American automobile industry in the seventies:

Just as General Motors was led by financial people, Honda would always be led by engineers… Put another way, the bean counters ran GM, while the car guys ran Honda. It would make a crucial difference between Honda’s success and GM’s failure.

While Ingrassia has recently written that he sees a glimmer of hope in what he terms GM’s great “restructuring,” the fact remains it wasn’t a “restructuring” at all, but the largest government seizure of privately-owned assets in history.

The reality is that GM seems to be making the same mistakes all over again. Less than two years after the government’s … Read More ➡

Modica: Will State & Muni Bondholders Get Crushed to Benefit Unions?

During an appearance on Fox Business Network on Tuesday, NLPC Associate Fellow (and GM bondholder) Mark Modica warned that the GM bankruptcy may provide a model for insolvent states and localities to crush bondholders and taxpayers to protect politically-connected unions. “Follow the Money” host is Eric Bolling. Here’s a transcript:

Eric Bolling: GM’s creative approach to bankruptcy involved a lot of politics and back scratching and it might be just the playbook the states need, who are in financial trouble. Mark Modica, former GM bondholder himself who got hammered by the GM bailout has been all over this. Ok, sir, go ahead, we talked a lot about the GM bankruptcy and what happened. Tell us what happened to the bond holders.

Mark Modica: Hi Eric. Yeah. There was obviously favoritism as politically favored groups like the UAW did very well. I like to call it a wealth redistribution scheme. … Read More ➡

Paranoid Rangel Claims We Broke Into His Office

One of the more bizarre elements of today’s Washington Post profile of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), by Wil Haygood, is this:

Rangel has genuine vitriol for the National Legal and Policy Center, which filed complaints against him with the Federal Election Commission, the IRS and the House Ethics Committee. He claims that investigators for the group followed him to the Dominican Republic and broke into his office.

Rangel has made no secret of his contempt for the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), but this is the first time he has libeled us or accused us of committing a crime.

Rangel previously lashed out at us on the House floor on August 10 of last year when he expressed a similar paranoia:

And they followed me on vacation. They followed me when I was doing business. They’re at the airport. They’re outside where I live. It’s kind of rough.

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Rangel ‘Lays Blame’ on NLPC for His Ethics Problems

Rangel photoWashington Post reporter Wil Haygood today examines the plight of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) since his Censure in early December. Haygood sat down with Rangel for two recent interviews, and reports Rangel’s “answers were full of contradictions that seem to defy easy explanation.” Also:

Rangel has genuine vitriol for the National Legal and Policy Center, which filed complaints against him with the Federal Elections Commission, the IRS and the House Ethics Committee.

Haygood paints a picture of a bitter and confused politician who seems unable to accept the fact that his time has long passed:

While taking blame for what he termed “overzealousness” in fundraising, Rangel chided members of Congress who voted for censure instead of a less serious reprimand, howled about a double standard, vowed that this episode “is not over yet” and complained bitterly about the National Legal and Policy Center, a Falls Church-based organization that chases

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Will SEC’s ‘Say on Pay’ Rule Do Any Good?

golden parachuteAs someone who has sponsored “Say on Pay” shareholder proposals with companies like Boeing and Procter & Gamble, I wonder whether SEC-mandated votes on executive compensation will do any good. In fact, I worry that it may lead to a false sense of shareholder empowerment.

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a rule requiring public companies to hold an advisory vote on executive pay at least once every three years.

At Boeing in 2008, our “Say on Pay” proposal got 38% of the vote, an extremely strong vote for a proposal opposed by the company’s management.  It had little impact. Management paid no attention to us and Boeing CEO James McNerney continues to be overpaid, even as the company experiences setback after setback.

Public companies should be controlled by shareholders, and their representatives, the board of directors. Unfortunately, corporate boards today are characterized by cronyism and … Read More ➡

GM’s ‘Looming Train Wreck’

GM logoUpbeat reports of GM’s “progress” have prompted politicians to pronounce the auto bailout a “success” and rocket the share price to 37. But do these reports reflect reality? The unrelated declines of both the American automotive and daily newspaper businesses have resulted in even less reporting on a beat that was thinly covered to begin with.

Right now, news about GM is what GM says it is. Business editors have little choice but to recycle GM press releases. They do not have the troops to do actual reporting. Even in the heat of the IPO coverage, GM’s financial data was uncritically repeated, never mind that the company could not even attest to its own financials.

Now comes Peter De Lorenzo, an automotive journalist who actually knows what he is talking about. These days he practices his craft on the Autoextremist.com website. De Lorenzo is not buying the GM hype. In … Read More ➡

Schwarzman Gets Billions; Taxpayers Get Bankruptcy

Schwarzman photoStephen Schwarzman is Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of the Blackstone Group private equity firm. He is reportedly worth $8 billion. According to the Blackstone website, 36% of the money it manages is in public pensions, the largest single source.

On Wednesday, the Blackstone Group put out this statement:

Blackstone’s view on public employee pensions is clear and unambiguous: We believe a pension is a promise. Working men and women should not have to worry about their retirement security after years of service to their communities. We oppose scapegoating public employees by blaming them for the structural budget deficits that cities and states face. We at Blackstone are committed to helping public employees retire with confidence in the strength and reliability of their pensions.

What about people who pay taxes but who don’t work for the government? Aren’t they “working men and women,” too? And speaking of working people, … Read More ➡