Crony capitalism

Dec 102012

Quiz question: When the referees own one of the teams, does it instill a) more or b) less confidence in their whistle blowing?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking into findings by Consumer Reports magazine that Ford Motor Co.’s F -0.09% Ford Fusion and C-Max wagon hybrids fall well short of their official gas-mileage ratings, an agency spokeswoman said on Monday.

via Ford Fusion, C-Max Mileage Claims Get EPA Scrutiny –

Nov 162012

Like I said, I could like some of President Obama’s policies if not implemented with so much cronyism and corruption.  (One wonders if most of the critics of Haliburton were not very sincere.)

XP has received information demonstrating that the unprecedented number of failures in the DOE program relative to what DOE officials have claimed to be “the most expensive and extensive due diligence in history” is explained by manipulated reviews, in the due diligence effort, on behalf of what the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigations found to be “favoritism” in published investigation reports. A senate ethics investigation states, in published reports, that “negligence and mismanagement by DOE officials” was a regular occurrence.

via Lawsuit Alleges “Corruption and Negligence” at Department of Energy.

Oct 162012

There is no possibility now of my voting for President Obama, but I might actually prefer his energy and environmental policies to Romney’s if he could figure out how to implement them without massive corruption, lawbreaking, and cronyism.

But this is little more than an ex post facto double-cross. Energy created the tax avoidance problem in the first place by gifting Argonaut and Madrone the net operating losses to delay the Solyndra crack-up that was fast becoming inevitable. That left taxpayers worse off than if they simply let Solyndra fail.

This raises a question or two for the President who once called Solyndra a “testament to American ingenuity and dynamism” and who keeps accusing Mitt Romney of supporting tax breaks for outsourcing and corporate jets, which he doesn’t. Here one of Mr. Obama’s own billionaire pals is trying to sidestep a federal tax bill amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of an epic crony capitalist fiasco.

via Review & Outlook: The Solyndra Memorial Tax Break –

Sep 102012

Energy investor Steve Westly is one such fundraiser who benefited royally. He bundled more than a half-million dollars for Obama’s 2008 campaign. Westly later won an appointment to the energy secretary’s advisory board. He chaired a board subcommittee on energy efficient building materials.

Conveniently, Westly’s investment firm invested heavily in firms that specialized in such products. Overall, Westly’s firms received more than $500 million from the Obama administration. That’s an awful lot of conflicts of interest for just one man

via Opinion: President Obama repays donors in tax dollars – Reince Priebus –

Nov 062011

Stone wall on Inishmaan, Aran Islands, Galway Bay

The White House response to the Solyndra subpoena has been referred to as “rejecting” and  “pushing back”.   In the days of the Nixon administration it would have been called stonewalling.

Stonewalling is the term I’ve used in comment sections in various places on the web.   But more recently I’ve read the subpoena and the exchange of letters.  (Links are at the web site of Fred Upton’s Energy and Commerce committee.)  I haven’t exactly changed my view of what’s happening, but I do think some of us have allowed this scuffle to distract us from the main point.

I still am amazed that the White House can have already produced 85,000 pages of documents and then complained that providing the rest could distract the President from his constitutional duties.   If there are that many documents, it  seems that the White House’s dealings with the Solyndra loan have been a distraction from the President’s constitutional duties from the beginning.

It’s also interesting that the most political of presidents, the president who uses a tax paid trip to bash Republicans while campaigning for his jobs bill, would find it in himself to complain that Upton’s committee was engaging in political partisanship.

The fact that the White House saw fit to time its rejection for the Friday night news dump suggests that it isn’t completely comfortable with its own behavior.

But why is it necessary for the Energy and Commerce committee to go through this subpoena exercise?    If it’s just to find some grounds for damaging President Obama’s re-election prospects, that’s not really behavior any better than the government’s funneling a $1 million consulting fee for evaluating the options to Lazard Ltd., one of the biggest DNC contributors.

The problem is that when the government gets in the loan business, there are vast opportunities for political corruption — opportunities for insider dealing in government funds.   The fact that it’s difficult to determine whether or not the White House was doing special deals for its friends is all the information that the committee needs.  It doesn’t need any more documents to know that it should terminate the opportunity for corruption by terminating the loan program.   Going after one particular President doesn’t do anything about the root problem.

Nov 072010

So President Obama has been making business deals in India. No wonder capitalism gets a bad rap, if that’s how it works. I think it’s called crony capitalism when deals are made on the basis of connections.

He’s certainly not the first politician to do this. The last two governors of Michigan, one from each major party, have also acted as though this is appropriate behavior.

But if businesses can’t make these deals themselves without intervention from politicians (and what legitimate consideration could a politician possibly offer to sweeten the deal?) then it would seem that our news media need to be investigating. Maybe new laws and regulations are needed, or maybe bad ones need to be removed. But there is no news that any of that is getting done in the wake of the President’s visit.