Tag Archives: congress

Its not about the Jets

By: Brian Bohnert

After double checking to make sure the cameras were turned on and the hearing was being broadcast to a nationwide audience, the members of the House financial services committee proceeded to engage in a timeless congressional tradition: grandstanding.  “How many of you took private jets here?” one asked, “how many of you are thinking about putting them on Ebay?” quipped another, “couldn’t you all have downgraded to first class or jet pooled or something to get here?” smirked a third.  As other members gleefully piled on, the CEOs of the three major automakers sat sullen, like petulant children who had gotten caught being naughty.  Relive your childhood “I’m really disappointed in you, son” lecture here:

Like the obnoxious guy at the party that tells the same stupid joke because he knows it always gets a good laugh, each and every member had some comment about the private jets throughout the hearing.  Predictably, the evening news and late night talk shows picked up the easy sound bites and the “cooler talk” the next day centered around the general douchebaggery of the rich CEOs and then moved on to the more pressing news that Brittany Spears was making a comeback appearance at the AMAs.  While Congress certainly did a good job in pointing out the symbolic mistake, they missed a golden oppotunity to address the real problem with American automakers: their cars.  

While some have blamed the unions and others have blamed the fiancial meltdown, analysts need to look no further than the 8 mile/gallon mobile overcompensation machine known as the Hummer.  While the rest of the world was making the shift to more fuel efficient cars, American manufacturers stubbornly continued to stamp out the gas guzzlers that would lead to their eventual demise.  After visiting Germany in the summer of 2006, I was struck at how small the cars on the streets were and how few SUVs clogged the highways.  Even the trucks that were used for delivery or construction were much smaller then Ford’s Excursion or Chevy’s enormous pickups.  The tiny Smart Car was a regular occurrence and people did not endure the juvenile ridicule of poltical rivals if they drove a hybrid.  

When I came back state side, I was keenly aware of how large the vehicles around me were – and how many of these vehicles carried around one person at a time.  When I turned on the TV, Jeep was advertising the new Cherokee SR8, the least fuel efficient jeep ever produced (but hey it had a Hemi and makes alot of noise guys…SWEET!), while Toyota was rolling the Prius off the assembly line.  GM’s solution to the highest gas prices in a decade?  “We’ll buy your gas for a year!!!”  American consumers were never asked to change their behavior and the automakers fought congressional efforts to make fuel standards stricter.  

Furthermore,  the old men at Ford continue to scratch their balding heads and wonder why young people don’t buy their cars.  Market research makes it pretty clear that young people are more image conscience than most yet Ford has the same logo that they had WHEN THE MODEL T CAME OUT!!!  Toyota?  they invent an entirely new brand (Scion) to market exclussivly to the young, hip, loud music set with great success.  While a logo does not make or break a car, its a symbol of the lack of innovative thought that American companies need to stay compettive.  Couple that with the fact that American cars are less reliable and have more recalls than foreign cars and you get 3 CEOs begging for cash to bail them out.

So what now?  When he is not pandering for votes in Michigan, Mitt Romney tells Detroit to take a hike while other Republicans refuse to support a detroit bail out.  The results of this would be catastrophic according to some analysts who predict the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs by the time you factor in part suppliers and retailers.  Obama is a bit more pragmatic at this point and has sent a message to Detroit that they need to make changes that should have been made years ago.  So this week, the CEOs stocked up on beef jerkey, made a sweet mix tape and roadtripped back to DC – this time trading in the private jets and rolling into town driving Hybrids.

While there is still hope for American autos (at least according to this guy)  there needs to be fundamental changes in the way we look at driving and the type of fuel standards that we demand from the cars we buy.  American car companies need to ditch the SUV or make them more fuel efficient.  They need to innovate and stay current with style trends to attract new buyers.  They need to hire the best and the brightest to live in a green economy and yes, they may even have to get rid of the private jets and lavish salaries for their CEOs.  That being said, I’m still going to buy a Subaru.

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Let’s cut the bull crap and get down to business!

November 1, 2008

By: Melissa Keller

Coloradans have turned in their TV remotes for more useful forms of information since their local television has been taken over by negative political ads. For those watching local news, it’s difficult to decide on who their congressional representative shall be this year when all there is to see are scandals and lies displayed by both parties.

Marilyn Musgrave has been the current congressional representative for District 4 since 2002; so when first time runner Betsy Markey challenged her return to congress it was inevitable that a cat fight wasn’t too far from the picture.

It began when Musgrave noticed her district moving more and more left with each year of being in office, and now that almost 90% of newly registered voters are democrat she’ll do just about anything to keep her seat. Musgrave began this cat fight when she argued that Markey was unfit for office by releasing an ad about her firm wrongly receiving federal contracts while Markey worked for Ken Salazar. In the ad, it blatantly showed Betsy behind jail bars hinting to the idea that she’s a criminal heading straight for prison.

It was obvious that this ad in return upset many loyal democrats who weren’t afraid to fight back. In an interview with Markey, she explained that the GOP statements were “outright lies” and that she would get to the bottom of this. Markey eventually filed a complaint with the Larimer County District Attorney’s office in mid September for airing false statements about her. It is illegal for a politician to knowingly display false statements about their opponent in a political campaign.

In their first local debate on October 9th, Musgrave continued to bring up allegations of Markey’s misuse of power with her company; but when her statements didn’t have much evidence to back them up, she quickly changed her tactics towards Markey’s inconsistent responses about her ownership with the company versus when she ended it.

But trust me, it didn’t stop there.

Musgrave was soon the next to file a complaint against Markey for allegedly telling falsehoods in a recent local commercial. This particular ad misled voters to believe that Musgrave allowed lobbyists to “wine and dine” her and that the Republican candidate sponsored a bill that would have benefited her family by lowering taxes on capital gains from investments in coins and precious metals.

“Musgrave’s personal financial disclosure said her husband in 2007 had between $15,001 and $50,000 in gains from his precious metal investments. The bill Musgrave co-sponsored would have lowered their family tax liability between $2,000 and $6,500.”

Markey’s campaign spokesman, Ben Marter, reacted to the complaint by saying, “Why is Musgrave spending her time disputing an ad that has been documented and proven to be true?”

This wasn’t the first time Musgrave reacted strongly to Markey’s actions. Back in August, things got pretty chaotic when Musgrave responded to Markey’s rejection to a radio debate by making her intern dress as a duck in reference to Markey “ducking” out of the debate.

Although this campaign has been a tiring one with its misled statements about scandals and corrupt politics, it’s always nice to know that our local candidates would rather go out of their way to back stab each other instead of focusing on the real issues that America faces today. I don’t blame Coloradans for being sick of the current negative ads circulating through the news that it wouldn’t surprise me if many of them vowed to refrain from watching television altogether until the election is over, I know I have.

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