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Wednesday
Jul182012

GOP Zaps President's Backing of Electric Automaker Fisker, Obama's 'You Didn't Build That' Comments

Fisker Automotive Inc.'s Atlantic plug-in hybrid vehicle is unveiled in New York, US, on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will spearhead an effort to re-focus attention on the 2009 economic stimulus and instances where American money was used by companies to outsource jobs or help create business overseas.

Priebus will make the argument at an event in Philadelphia and focus specifically on Fisker, the start-up electric car company that received part of a $529 million federal government loan guarantee from the Obama Administration.

A recent TV ad produced by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign lumps Fisker in with failed solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.

Fisker has not gone bankrupt like Solyndra, but it has not yet carried through on plans to begin assembling cars in a U.S. manufacturing plant, either.

Fisker purchased a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware with government help, and predicted it would one day employ 2,000 auto workers to assemble the clean-burning gas-electric family car, known as the Atlantic. That promise was enough for the Obama administration, apparently, but didn't materialize when the rubber hit the road -- as it never actually did: The Atlantic was already behind schedule when the company’s unsteady financial footing prompted the Department of Energy to freeze their loan payments.

The car company has continued to receive private financing and now says it will consider looking elsewhere -- including overseas -- for a cheaper place to produce its vehicles.

Of its initial $529 million loan guarantee, Fisker has so far received $169 million in stimulus funds. That money was used for the Karma, a $100,000 hybrid sports sedan that was assembled in Finland and is being championed by the owner of the very first Karma -- Leonardo DiCaprio. The company recently went public with its design for the less expensive Atlantic -- but it is likely to be years before that car is ready for the showroom.

“This is just another example of the president’s record of sending jobs overseas when he promised stimulus efforts would create jobs here in America,” RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski.

Priebus will also focus on the news that the president’s job council hasn’t met in six months as well as continuing to blast the president for his comments regarding  entrepreneurs and Made in America businesses. On the campaign trail, Obama said, "If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen," claiming it was the government -- not individual ability, intellectual genius or business prowess -- that made American companies grow. 

The Romney campaign seized on the comments as evidence that the president is anti-capitalist. On the campaign stump Tuesday, Gov. Romney said to rising applause, "The idea, to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn't build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald's, that Bill Gates didn't build Microsoft…To say something like that is not just foolishness, it's insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it's wrong. President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama we have less success, and I will change that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

New Hampshire Primary: Who's the Richest Candidate of Them All?

Nick M Do/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, there are no poor people among the front-runners.

According to financial disclosures filed by the candidates, and to analyses of those filings by watchdog groups and news organizations, none of the six Republicans is worth much less than $2 million.  Some, including Romney and Huntsman, have a great deal more money.

As for the front-running Democrat on the ballot -- President Obama -- he, too, isn't anywhere near the so-called "99 percent": An analysis of the President's financial filings by OpenSecrets.org assigns him a net worth of $2.8 million to $11.8 million. Forbes puts it at $10 million, with the potential for his earning "a lot more after office."

See the net worth of the candidates below:

1. Mitt Romney, Former Governor of Massachusetts

Romney's Aug. 12 financial disclosures for the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) show him to have a net worth of between $190 and $250 million, making him by far the richest of the Republicans still standing.  Successful in his own right as a venture capitalist, he didn't exactly pull himself up by his bootstraps: His father was president of General Motors.

2. Jon Huntsman, Former Ambassador to China, Former Governor of Utah
Huntsman's OGE filing for Aug. 30 shows a net worth somewhere between $16 million and $105 million.  Forbes estimates it as $50 million.  The candidate stands to become significantly richer when his father dies: The elder Huntsman, founder of global chemical manufacturer Huntsman Corp, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at over $900 million.

3. Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House

Gingrich's prime money-making years began in 1999, after his resignation from Congress.  He started a profitable consulting practice, The Gingrich Group, which reportedly earned in excess of $1.6 million from contracts with mortgage giant Freddie Mac.  As a lecturer, he earned fees of up to $50,000 per talk.  His net worth, according to his Office of Government Ethics filing for July 14, is at least $6.7 million.

4. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas
Perry's net worth -- approximately $3 million -- includes a one-third interest in a ranch in Haskell, Texas, according to his Dec. 15 OGE filing.  Some of his wealth has come from lucrative deals with friends and supporters.

5. Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas
Watchdog group OpenSecrets.org puts Paul's wealth at between $1.9 million and $5.2 million, making the diminutive doctor the 87th richest member of the House of Representatives.

6. Rick Santorum, Former Pennsylvania Senator
The former senator has a net worth of up to $2 million according to his Aug. 2 filing with the Office of Government Ethics.  He earned some of it working as a commentator for News Corp's Fox News, which paid him just under $240,000 in 2010 and the first six months of 2011.  He earned more than $330,000 as a consultant to Consul Energy in Pennsylvania and to two lobbying firms in Washington, D.C.

7. Barack Obama, President of the United States
The first couple's joint tax return shows income last year of $1.73 million, down from $5.5 million the year before, with much of it coming from sales of two of the president's books, Dreams From my Father and The Audacity of Hope. Citing financial records, Forbes pins President Obama's worth at $10 million. Like every former president, Obama has the potential for his earning a fortune in book deals and speaking engagement when he leave office -- whenever that may be.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

House Republicans Look to End Solyndra Loan Program

Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an attempt to win support from the 48 House Republicans who voted against the stalled stopgap funding bill Wednesday night, the House Republican leadership is considering slashing the remaining $100 million from the loan program that granted a $535-million loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar company.

GOP aides said the Department of Energy loan program cuts would help offset disaster relief funding. The House is expected to vote on the tweaked continuing resolution Thursday evening.

Earlier, at a House Oversight Committee hearing, the loan program was blasted by Republicans for failing to create the jobs President Obama claimed it would when he promoted the Recovery Act program in 2009.

The Republican committee members released a report during the hearing that claimed the $41.7 billion allocated to green initiatives as part of the 2009 Recovery Act “has done little to create jobs or speed recovery.”

“In fact,” the report noted, “by many accounts it has destroyed jobs. This is a dangerous strategy that will drastically increase the price consumers pay for energy, hurt economic growth and restrict job creation.

Democratic committee members fired back with their own report that detailed the number of people currently employed by the green jobs sector in each Republican member’s district along with the federal loans given to green industries within both their district and state as a whole.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

Barney Frank Chastises GOP for Blocking CFPB Director Confirmation

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Barney Frank is more than miffed about Senate Republicans blocking the confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Board.

In a Friday Op-Ed the Massachusetts Democrat accused Republicans of “blatantly distorting the Constitution” because they have vowed to block any CFPB director nominee from being confirmed, regardless of the nominee’s merits.

“We’re going to see an extraordinarily qualified administrator of an important consumer protection agency be trashed by the Senate Republican minority because their primary goal is to ensure that financial institutions are not troubled by what they may see as an excessive concern for consumer fairness,” Frank wrote in the Washington Post op-ed.

“It is the legislative equivalent to an arsonist having set a fire and objecting to a building’s inhabitants using the fire exit,” he added.

The CFPB was created in response to the sub-prime mortgage crisis as a way to prevent unsound lending practices and avert another financial crisis. Frank was one of the authors of Dodd-Frank financial reform bill which created the CFPB.

Before the president named his nominee to lead the CFPB, 44 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Obama saying they will not confirm any nominee until the board’s structure is revamped.

Republicans have been staunchly opposed to the board and to many of the Dodd-Frank provisions. In the letter, they specified that they want to scrap the board’s director position altogether and instead diffuse power through a panel of directors. They also want any CFPB regulations to be approved by bank regulators before taking effect.

But the president has said he will veto any changes to Dodd-Frank or restructuring of the CFPB.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who signed the letter, told ABC News in July that Senate Republicans are “not going to budge and we shouldn’t.”

“We fought it last year. We’re going to continue to fight it,” Shelby said.

Frank wrote that the Republicans were waging a “war on financial regulation” and that Cordray’s confirmation was “collateral damage.”

“Senate Republicans are not entitled to use the confirmation power as a bludgeon to get their way when they cannot do so through the normal legislative process,” Frank wrote.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Boeing Labor Dispute Attracts Arrows From Republicans

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- A U.S. House committee takes to the road Friday for a politically charged field hearing in North Charleston, S.C., to determine whether the Boeing Co. violated labor laws by moving an assembly operation from Washington State to South Carolina.

"Chairman Issa and the other committee members want to hear from folks on the ground to learn what the economic impacts are and really get their arms around the local impact of the potential decision," said Jeffrey Solsby, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

At issue is a National Labor Relations Board lawsuit against the airplane manufacturer alleging that the company illegally moved the assembly of its fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner from union-friendly Washington to the South, where union influence is less prominent.

Almost every GOP presidential candidate has chastised the lawsuit. Mitt Romney called it a "power grab." Herman Cain called the suit "completely unacceptable...political games." Tim Pawlenty called it "another outrageous overreach by the federal government." And Newt Gingrich accused the labor board of "basically breaking the law."

The labor board, which is appointed by the president, wants to force Boeing to keep assembly of the jetliner in Washington, but would not make the company forgo the new non-unionized plant which would deliberately kill jobs that were created in an already down economy.

Boeing said a NLRB victory would "significantly impact, and perhaps permanently halt, Boeing's efforts to complete the facility," bringing "substantial economic harm to South Carolina."

The labor board says Boeing moved the assembly to retaliate against union workers at the Washington plant, where there have been five strikes since 1977 -- the most recent in 2008 cost Boeing $1.8 billion, according to the company.

The board has cited comments that a Boeing senior official made to a Seattle Times reporter as evidence that the company was trying to avoid unionized labor.

"The overriding factor [in transferring the line] was not the business climate," the official said. " And it was not the wages we're paying today. It was that we cannot afford to have a work stoppage, you know, every three years."

Boeing said it did not "move" the plant but instead created 1,000 new jobs in South Carolina. The company has added 2,000 new union jobs at the Puget Sound plant in Washington since making the decision to build in South Carolina.

While Boeing spokesman Sean McCormack would not comment on the case's political ramifications, he said the lawsuit raises questions about the ability of companies to make decisions about where they do business.

"Here you have a major American manufacturing company, Boeing, making a billion-dollar investment on manufacturing capacity in the U.S.," McCormack said. "We think that should be celebrated. Instead, we have a threat from the government, more specifically from the NLRB, to call for a remedy that would effectively close the plant."

The NLRB case began Tuesday with a hearing in Seattle and is expected to last a couple of weeks, the board spokesman said.

McCormack said Boeing does not expect to win the case in front of the labor board and will appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court.

"We believe that the complaint is a frivolous campaign not grounded in law and runs contrary not only to NLRB precedent," McCormack said, "but also established Supreme Court precedent."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

US Chamber of Commerce President on Shutdown: 'Pain in the Neck'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- What does the business community think of a possible federal government shutdown?

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue said Friday it would be a “pain in the neck” but only severely effect businesses and the economy if it were to last “several weeks.”

“I’ve been telling people, let’s do this. Push it right up to the line, do whatever you have to do, but let’s not shut down the government,” Donohue told reporters at a breakfast meeting in Washington.

“It’s happened many, many times, but we’ve got a million things on our plate all around the world. It would be helpful not to do it,” he said. “If it happens and it’s in a short period of time, it’s a little bit of a mental exercise and we go out and do it and get on with it.”

Donohue, who declined to assign blame for the budget gridlock, said he believes the looming debate over the debt limit and long-term entitlement spending has more serious implications for the business community and economy as a whole.

The Obama administration has warned of dire consequences unless the $14.3 trillion ceiling is raised before the debt limit is reached, likely sometime before May 31.  But Congressional Republicans have threatened to block an increase unless the administration commits to curtailing entitlement spending.

The Chamber’s top lobbyist, Bruce Josten, said the he expects Republican lawmakers will ultimately agree to raise the debt limit, but not without concessions from the administration.

Donohue described relations between the business community and the White House as cordial, saying he appreciates steps President Obama has taken to “change his song.” But he suggested that on matters of substance, little has changed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov102010

Economic Boost or Bad Policy? GOP Denounces New Fed Plan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Reserve's new $600 billion monetary stimulus plan is designed to spur the country's sluggish economic recovery. But the central bank's program is now encountering a growing backlash both at home and abroad.

China and Russia have criticized Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's plan, while prominent Republicans are starting to voice concerns of their own.

"I would say that Bernanke is fundamentally wrong, that he is running -- he is fundamentally misreading the economy. This economy lacks confidence in the government. It doesn't lack cash," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told ABC News Tuesday.

Under the plan dubbed QE2 -- which stands for quantitative easing -- the Fed will buy $600 billion worth of government bonds in a bid to make loans cheaper and get Americans to spend more. Doing so is designed help the economy and prompt companies to boost hiring.

The top Republican on the Senate Banking panel told ABC News that he is "worried" about the Fed's plan. "While I share Chairman Bernanke's concern regarding the condition of the economy, I am worried about the risks associated with his actions," said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama. "However, Chairman Bernanke would not be in this position had President Obama and the Democrats used their power to enact pro-growth policies. Instead, they have grown government and created the most anti-business regulatory environment our country has ever seen."

The comments come on the heels of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's calls for the Fed to "cease and desist" with its new plan. "It means our government is pumping money into the banking system by buying up Treasury bonds. And where, you may ask, are we getting the money to pay for all this? We're printing it out of thin air," Palin told a trade association convention in Phoenix on Monday, according to the National Review.

"And if it doesn't work, what do we do then? Print even more money? What's the end game here?," Palin asked. "Where will all this money-printing on an unprecedented scale take us? Do we have any guarantees that QE2 won't be followed by QE3, 4, and 5, until eventually -- inevitably -- no one will want to buy our debt anymore? We shouldn't be playing around with inflation."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep242010

To Stop a Stimulus: White House Forecasts Economic Doom If GOP Gets Their Way

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News.(WASHINGTON) -- In the GOP's "Pledge to America," Republican lawmakers said they want all $258 billion of unspent stimulus funds to remain unspent.  Now the White House is pushing back hard, arguing that such a pledge spells disaster for Americans.  A White House Recovery Office official told ABC News that millions of families could expect to immediately see their taxes go up, tens of thousands of businesses across the country would see their taxes rise by $27 billion and millions of college students would see their college tax credits in jeopardy.  Also according to the White House, Americans could expect more job loss and economic hardship.  White House Recovery Act spokesperson Liz Oxhorn told ABC News, “Only the party that got us into this mess would propose creating jobs and cutting taxes by killing jobs and raising taxes.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.







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