The alliance between big government and big business should raise the hackles on the necks of ordinary citizens. In the cases of GM and Chrysler, we have seen a variety of wrongs committed with government power and taxpayer money. Harnessed to the power of government, big business can really get cracking.
It can sell products to big government. It can bulk up on direct and indirect subsidies derived from the labor of ordinary citizens. It can take pressure off pricing by creating barriers to entry for potential competitors. It can mitigate the difficulty of persuading ordinary citizens to buy what they are selling at a price that reflects market value.
Before the GM and Chrysler bailouts, GE chief executive officer Jeffrey Immelt saw the money to be minted in environmentalism. GE would hold itself out as an environmental leader under the rubric of Ecoimagination. Then it would join up with big government, promote the global warming hoax and cash in on it through the regulatory regime of cap-and-tax. Ecoimagination is the public relations campaign that in part represents GE’s strategic partnership with big government. See, for example, the friendly 2005 Forbes article “GE turns green.”
GE got a taste of the good life when it got in on the bank bailout. As the Washington Post reported in a major article in mid-2009, GE had quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the government’s key bank bailout programs. At the same time GE also avoided many of the restrictions faced by the big banks
The Post noted that GE did not initially qualify for the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, under which the government guaranteed debt sold by banks: “But regulators soon loosened the eligibility requirements, in part because of behind-the-scenes appeals from GE.”
GE thus joined the big banks collectively saving billions of dollars by raising money for their operations at lower interest rates. The Post reported that GE Capital had issued nearly a quarter of the $340 billion in debt backed by the TLGP. The government’s actions have been “powerful and helpful” to the company, Immelt acknowledged in December 2008. More recently, Matt Kibbe showed just how helpful in “GE: Imaginative rent-seeking at work.”
The cap-and-tax regime promoted by the Obama administration would pay off handsomely for GE. Immelt made his pitch to a Dartmouth crowd in August 2008. “The Wall Street Journal hates all this stuff,” Immelt helpfully explained. “They claim global warming’s a hoax…I have to deal with this regulation at work every day. You can’t afford to be ideological.” Hey, I know know what you mean.
It helps to have friends in high places. Immelt has supported and befriended Obama. That cap-and-tax thing must have formed a part of Obama’s appeal to Immelt. When it comes to making money, you can’t afford to be ideological.
Yesterday President Obama named Immelt to head his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness panel. Immelt took to the pages of the Washington Post to explain: “The president and I are committed to a candid and full dialogue among business, labor and government to help ensure that the United States has the most competitive and innovative economy in the world.” Fred Barnes briefly explicated the appointment more straightforwardly in “Jeffrey Immelt, Obama’s pet CEO.”
UPDATE: Via Drudge, I see that Chris Stirewalt reviews Immelt’s support for picking the taxpayers’ pockets via GE’s strategic partnership with big government.
And Joseph Lawler includes another good quote in “What’s good for Jeffrey Immelt is what’s good for America”: “The fact that I’d like GE to work in concert with where government policy is in the U.S. doesn’t mean that I’m a traitor or a bad guy, I think it’s just being practical that that’s gotta happen.” Jeff, you’re coming through loud and clear!
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