In August we noted that a new federal regulation would slow the revolving door between the SEC and the private sector. Well, the Office of Government Ethics is withdrawing the rule before it can take effect (a seemingly unusual event). The Project On Government Oversight reports:
A notice published in Monday’s edition of the Federal Register said that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) was withdrawing the new rule at “the request of the SEC” so that the agency could have more time to “effectively educate affected employees before the exemption revocation takes effect.”
That being said, OGE is planning to republish the rule in January, for an effective delay of about 90 days.
The ethics office said it expects to republish the rule in January 2014, but it then would take another 90 days for the rule to go into effect, according to Monday’s announcement. As a result, SEC employees who would be affected by the rule change—including supervisory accountants, attorneys, economists, analysts, and administrative specialists—will have even more time to take advantage of the loophole.
The National Legal and Policy Center describes how one company is benefiting from the government ban on incandescent light bulbs… and how politicians are benefiting from the company.
Besides the federal and state governments’ coercive tactics in shaping citizens’ lighting practices, it shouldn’t surprise that Cree also is heavily invested in the same behavior that much of the rest of the “green” energy industry depends on: crony capitalism. In March 2010 Vice President Joe Biden, as he toured companies that had secured stimulus grants and loans, visited Cree along with then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Cree had received a $39-million tax credit through the Recovery Act, as well as $1.8 million in stimulus money for research and development. This coincided nicely with a visit by Swoboda to the White House the previous July, as well as a timely 2009 increase in Cree’s lobbying expenditures of 137 percent over the previous year.
The entire piece is an engrossing read, and portends a dark future for the light bulb.
According to a report by The Washington Post, nearly 38 percent of workers require some form of license or certification to do their job. This number represents a staggering growth of licensing when compared to the 5 percent of workers who needed a license in the 1950’s and even the 18 percent of workers in the 1980’s. Licensing benefits those already in the profession, which is why they often lobby for it.
“[The growth] tends to come from the occupations themselves,” he said. “They organize, they pay somebody to be the head of an organization, they lobby the legislature.”
Can federal drug reimbursement rates be affected by special interests? Tad Dehaven at the Cato Institute makes the case that they can be.
Thanks to a massive lobbying campaign from the dialysis industry ($8 million since 2009), Congress is now considering giving back the taxpayer-financed windfall. According to theTimes, “more than 100 of the same members of Congress who voted in January to impose the cut are now trying to push the Obama administration to reverse it or water it down.”
The Federal Reserve posses arbitrary control over every type of financial institution, and it’s tasked with impossible goals such as stopping bubbles, speculative excesses, and overheated markets. John Cochrane warns that when these powers are exercised it could make the Fed a focus of lobbying, political pressure, and cronyism. From the Wall Street Journal (may be gated):
[When the Fed regulates companies and sectors] Will not all of these people call their lobbyists, congressmen and administration contacts, and demand change? Will not people who profit from Fed interventions do the same? Willy-nilly financial dirigisme will inevitably lead to politicization, cronyism, a sclerotic, uncompetitive financial system and political oversight.
Navigating the Affordable Care Act has become so important that a number of folks who helped create it have been hired as lobbyists or consultants. From The Hill:
ObamaCare has become big business for an elite network of Washington lobbyists and consultants who helped shape the law from the inside.
More than 30 former administration officials, lawmakers and congressional staffers who worked on the healthcare law have set up shop on K Street since 2010.
The Export-Import Bank may provide a loan guarantee for the purchase of eleven Gulfstream aircraft by Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko. From Reuters:
Billionaire Russian businessman Gennady Timchenko, a long-time associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, plans to seek U.S. government-backed funding to buy luxury aircraft, Reuters has learned.
To smooth the path for financial backing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and allay possible U.S. government concerns about him, Timchenko hired lobbyists from powerhouse Washington law firm Patton Boggs, according to emails and documents viewed by Reuters.
Robert Lenzner a Forbes Staff wrote the following article, in which Mr. Lenzner asks Tim Geithner some direct questions regarding crony capitalism, too-big-to-fail banks and Geithner’s relationship with investment banks.
My grudge about Geithner goes back to a brief scene in the Oscar-winning documentary, “Inside Job,” where he exclaims that he has never had experience as a regulator.
I have another query for Geithner. Why did you eject the tough and bold suggestion from your staff that the senior executives of Merrill Lynch and AIG and others, who received their hefty cash bonuses despite needing federal funds to bail them out, not face a special tax that required them to pay much of their ill-gotten gains back to Uncle Sam? Yes, such a move would have taken guts in playing hard ball with your cronies.
Andrew Evans from the Free Beacon has recently posted this article, concerning the latest case of corporate welfare that involves the Ex-Im bank. The Export-Import Bank has recently extended a $32 million financing support, to the sale of helicopters made by an Italian company whose boss has been arrested earlier this year on charges of bribery.
Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank president Fred Hochberg announced on Twitter Tuesday that the Ex-Im board approved $32 million in financing to support the export of three AgustaWestland helicopters to Brazil. Ex-Im spokesman Phil Cogan said this financing will take the form of a loan guarantee backing another lender.
AgustaWestland, based in England, is a subsidiary of the Italian aeronautics manufacturer Finmeccanica, in which the Italian government holds a 30 percent stake.
The CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland were arrested in February on bribery charges related to the sale of several helicopters to the Indian government. They were both subsequently fired.
Laura Litvan from Bloomberg.com recently posted the following post, concerning farm subsidies. The article stresses how last year, fifteen members of the U.S. House and Senate or their respective spouses benefited directly from federal farm subsidies.
Representative Stephen Fincher, a Tennessee Republican and member of the House Agriculture Committee that has approved a rewrite of farm programs, was the biggest recipient of the subsidies last year, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group, a group that seeks lower farm subsidies. Fincher and his wife, Lynn, own 50 percent of a farm and received $70,574 in direct farm subsidies last year, the group said.