Your daily dose of crony capitalism

If you follow the news, by now you’ve heard that President Obama recently appointed the CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, to head his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Competitiveness?  Immelt is indeed a curious choice for that particular responsibility:

When Democrats said President Obama was “pro-business,” we didn’t know they meant one business in particular.

There are a few companies on the Obama corporate A List – Democratic patrons Google and Goldman Sachs both turn up again and again at White House functions and for special recognition – but no company seems to get the VIP treatment that General Electric receives.

… Whether it is pushing the president’s plan
for global warming fees in order to create demand for his
“Ecomagination” line of windmills, solar panels, etc., boosting the
president’s national health-care law as part of an effort to sell more
medical equipment, or enthusing over the Obama strategy of making loans
available for industrial exporters, Immelt has been an Obama stalwart
all along. Immelt has also consistently argued to shareholders that
there is big money to be made in advancing the Democratic agenda.

While most corporate leaders have taken a wait and see approach to
Obama’s occasional overtures to the private sector, G.E., along with
Google, Goldman and few others, have backed him to the hilt.

It is unclear how the administration plans to deal with the ethics
challenges created by having a CEO whose income is determined by stock
performance leading a panel designed to recommend government policies.
G.E. (2009 revenue: $157 billion) is a huge government contractor and is
always in the market for new subsidies and incentives.

Of course the Obama Administration had no problem setting up the UAW, which represents employees in the automotive industry, as a majority shareholder in the new GM, so I’m certain their attorneys will come up with a clever solution in a short amount of time.

Here’s a little more dirt on Immelt and his goal of becoming America’s crony capitalism king:

On April 22, 2009, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt entered a raging
controversy at the University of Notre Dame surrounding an upcoming
commencement speech by Barack Obama with an
in, of all places, the Notre Dame Observer.

… Had the Observer provided the most routine of
disclosures for that article, the answer would have been obvious.
On February 17th of that year, Obama had signed the
stimulus bill, which included
$24.9 million
in grants that would flow directly to GE, with
$20 billion more
slated for health care record modernization of
the kind that GE specializes in — “with
a direct request to do so from GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt
.” Months
before, during the Bush administration, GE had successfully lobbied
to get its financing arm, GE Capital, included in a FDIC bailout
program that would insure up to
$139 billion
of its debt. By the time Obama stepped on stage at
Notre Dame, GE Capital had used the program
to raise
“$74 billion, helping to cover [GE’S] 2009 funding
needs, and about $8 billion of its projected needs for 2010.” In
addition, Immelt knew that many billions more would accrue to his
company through its green initiatives if Obama’s cap and trade
proposal became law.

It would be hard to think up a more direct conflict of

Make sure you browse this link-rich writeup at Powerline as well.  And while you’re reading, ask yourself why Democrats, who hyperventilated for eight years over CHENEY!!! HALLIBURTON!!!! can’t even be bothered to lift a finger over Jeffrey Immelt.

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