Secret, ‘Special’ Interests

October 17, 2010

The latest tactic progressives are attempting is to scare voters into thinking that behind every conservative, Tea Party or Republican candidate or group are secret, foreign corporations and individuals propping them up with funding. The implication is that these ‘special’ interests represent a threat to our system of democracy. 

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=obama+mtv&iid=9952373″ src=”″ width=”234″ height=”136″ /]Part of the issue stems from a recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, in which the majority of the justices ruled that corporations have free speech rights in respect to their ability to fund political opinion. Many Democrats and progressives, including Obama, have at many times railed against the decision.

One group under attack is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Recently, there has been an effort to insinuate that the Chamber is backed by foreign special interests, despite little evidence to prove it. The Chamber’s head of government affairs has even asserted that the push to disclose donor information may be an attempt by the Obama administration to intimidate those who fund the organization. Other conservative-leaning groups, like Americans for Prosperity, have also come under fire from Obama and other Democrats desperately hoping to find a way to minimize the severity of their predicted election losses next month.

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GM Back in Business … the Campaign Funding Business

September 30, 2010

One neat little benefit of being a politician who votes to bail out companies is that those companies will later repay you by contributing to your re-election. The most pertinent example is the auto-company bailouts.

A recent report from notes that General Motors (probably more appropriately named “Government Motors”) has since given campaign contributions from its political action committee to several lawmakers with influential positions:

Recipients in the House included Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Transportation Committee, and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). chairwoman of the Rules Committee. In the Senate, both Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, and Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, accepted $1,000 donations. The PAC also targeted several lawmakers that hail from Michigan, home of the (formerly?) ailing American auto industry, including Democrats John Dingell and Gary Peters.

One problem with this scenario is that taxpayers still own a large part of the company:

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Backing Up Banks … in Afghanistan

September 2, 2010

The phrase “You break it, you own it” takes on new meaning with the following reported suggestion from the brother of Afghanistan’s president:

As depositors thronged branches of Afghanistan’s biggest bank, Mahmoud Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a major shareholder in the beleaguered Kabul Bank, called Thursday for intervention by the United States to head off a financial meltdown. “America should do something,” he said in a telephone interview, suggesting that the Treasury Department guarantee the funds of Kabul Bank’s clients, who number about 1 million and have more than $1 billion on deposit with the bank.

Perhaps he got the idea that the U.S. government could back up these funds from the behavior of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in our country — not to mention the bank bailouts from our own ‘financial meltdown.’ The problem is that we may actually end up doing this. One result of our continued military operation in that country is that we are now vested in seeing it remain stable … even if that means bailing its banks out.

Bailing Out the States

August 10, 2010

Are you from a state that just can’t seem to pay its bills? Never fear, President Obama and the U.S. Congress are coming to your rescue.

Congress recently passed, and Obama recently signed, a bill that will effectively bailout states with an additional $26 billion the federal government doesn’t actually have. Though it is argued that the bill would be paid for in the future with increased taxes, withdrawing funding from a loan program and suggested cuts in food stamps — not to take place until 2014 — some lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have voiced opposition to such methods of payment. In addition, one provision in the bill reportedly mandates that one state, Texas, maintain its current levels of education spending through 2013.

Obama emotionally appealed to the moral sensibilities of Americans when he argued the following:

We can’t stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe.

Which children and communities is he referring to? What the bailout amounts to is taxpayers from one state paying to bailout another state. I believe the phrase is, “Robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

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A Visit from the Boss

August 1, 2010

Here’s the de-facto head of much of the American auto industry (absent Ford), thanks to the bailouts, rallying the troops a few days ago:

Anyone bothered by this?

Obama’s Responsibility Rhetoric

June 10, 2010

Politicians are masters at saying one thing and doing another. Translation: Politicians make good hypocrites.

A pertinent example is this charge to high-school graduates from a recent speech by President Barack Obama, urging the graduates to:

 Take responsibility not just for your successes; take responsibility where you fall short as well.

Perhaps the 17- and 18-year-old graduates in the room believed the president really meant that. However, one would hope the more informed adults in the room had a collective gasp after Obama uttered those words.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=obama+kalamazoo&iid=9054824″ src=”″ width=”234″ height=”189″ /]Such comments flatly fly in the face of policies he has promoted since and prior to coming to the White House. Policies ranging from the bank bailouts to the car bailouts to the seemingly never-ending supply of unemployment benefits to Americans all highlight that Obama believes, in reality, that the government should shield businesses and individuals from the eventual results when they “fall short.” The net result of such a bailout culture is dependence on government and a greater incentive to continue activities that lead to failure — not to mention increasing government debt.

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No More Bank Bailouts?

May 9, 2010

A bit of good news coming out of the financial reform efforts in the U.S. Senate: An amendment preventing any future bailouts of financial institutions was adopted 96-1. In addition, the so-called “bailout” slush fund of $50 billion to wind down failed banks was dropped 93-5.

The process is certainly not over, so these changes may not stick. But, as a break from the cynical points often made on this blog, I thought I’d share some evidence of hope. Time will tell.

It’s All Greek to Me

May 6, 2010

Is this scene in Greece something other countries, including our own, have to look forward to?

To paraphrase a statement often attributed to James Madison: A crisis is the playground of tyrants. Politicians seeking more power often find that crises are the perfect opportunity to justify their increased control. What’s particularly ironic is that debt crises like the one in Greece were created by politicians.

Reasoning Through the GM Ad

May 2, 2010

To add to a recent post I made putting GM’s ad touting the payback of its government loan into perspective, here is’s take on the subject:

Despite CEO’s Claim, GM Still Means ‘Government Motors’

April 29, 2010

General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre is all over the airwaves with the company’s new ad touting the fact that it paid back all of its government loan early and with interest. One problem: The loan was only a small part of the total taxpayer money dumped into the struggling car company.

PolitiFact details the problem with Whitacre’s characterization of his company’s status with taxpayers:

It’s true that GM has squared up on its government loans, but Whitacre isn’t telling the full story here.

With GM in deep trouble and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the balance, the Obama administration — through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) — stepped forward with tens of billions of dollars worth of assistance. As of March 31, 2010, the U.S. Treasury had committed approximately $52.4 billion to GM.

Only a fraction of that, $6.7 billion, was in the form of loans, however. Most of the government’s GM investment was converted to an ownership stake in the New GM, the company that emerged from bankruptcy: $2.1 billion in preferred stock; and 60.8 percent of the company’s common equity.

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