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Tags: Most | Senators | Are | Millionaires

Most Senators Are Millionaires

By    |   Tuesday, 02 November 2010 02:17 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama Claims Credit for Bush-Era Wind Farms
2. Chevy Volt Ripped as an ‘Electric Edsel’
3. Most U.S. Senators Are Millionaires
4. Half of New Jobs Created in Low-Tax Texas
5. Campaign Spending to Hit Record $4 Billion
6. Poll: Republicans Want to Defund Public Radio

1. Obama Claims Credit for Bush-Era Wind Farms

The Obama administration is crediting its stimulus plan with creating up to 50,000 jobs on 70 wind farms — even though nearly half were built before the stimulus cash began to flow.

Of the 70 wind farms that received $4.4 billion in federal energy grants through the stimulus program, 11 were actually erected during the Bush administration.

Another 19 were built before any of the stimulus money for wind farms was distributed beginning on Sept. 1, 2009, according to a report from the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University in Washington, D.C. And 14 farms were already producing electricity by that date.

Yet in testimony before Congress in April, Matt Rogers, the Department of Energy’s senior adviser on stimulus, claimed the wind farms funded by the stimulus created up to 50,000 jobs. He said: “These programs were particularly effective in getting money out the door quickly to put people back to work on great projects that would otherwise have been idled in the face of the Great Recession.”

The wind farm program, known as Section 1603, reimburses developers of renewable energy facilities, such as wind farms, up to 30 percent of a project’s cost.

One wind farm, in western New York State, consisted of 88 huge turbines. Its developer received $61.8 million in stimulus grants on Sept. 1, 2009 — 15 months after construction ended.

Another farm, in Mahanoy, Pa., featured 51 turbines and brought its developer $59.1 million in stimulus money. But 50 of the turbines had been built in 2008 — including 31 constructed before Obama was elected.

The Investigative Reporting Workshop also points out, in an article appearing on the MSNBC website, that the Section 1603 grant program does not require that firms receiving stimulus money reinvest it in the United States. And the Workshop’s investigation found that foreign-owned companies had built most of the turbines that were being installed.

Editor's Note:

2. Chevy Volt Ripped as an ‘Electric Edsel’

The Obama administration has hailed the Chevy Volt as the electric savior of the American auto industry, but in fact it’s not an all-electric car and gets nowhere near the mileage General Motors claims.

The Volt, which will go on sale in the coming weeks, carries a price tag of $41,000, and the federal government is offering a $7,500 taxpayer-funded subsidy to get people in the showrooms of GM — which is largely owned by the U.S. Treasury.

After President Obama visited a GM plant in Michigan a few months ago, Investor’s Business Daily called the Volt an “electric Edsel.”

Now in a new article headlined “Volt Fraud at Government Motors,” IBD states: “Advertised as an all-electric car that could drive 50 miles on its lithium battery, GM addressed concerns about where you plug the thing in en route to grandma’s house by adding a small gasoline engine to help maintain the charge on the battery as it starts to run down. It was still an electric car, we were told, and not a hybrid on steroids.

“That’s not quite true.”

GM engineers now admit that rather than just extending the range of the battery when it runs down or the car nears speeds of 70 miles per hour, the Volt’s gas engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors.

Back in August 2009, GM claimed the Volt would get 230 miles per gallon in city conditions.

But Popular Mechanics found it will average about 37.5 mpg in city driving. Motor Trend said its fuel economy should be in the “high 30s to low 40s,” according to IBD. And the Los Angeles Times reported that the Volt averaged 39 mpg on a 400-mile trip at freeway speeds, using its battery and gas from its 9.3-gallon tank.

“In 2008, candidate Obama pledged to put 1 million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015,” IBD noted.

“Not likely. It was a tough sell when we thought it was all-electric and could get 230 mpg. It will be a tougher sell now that we find it’s a glorified Prius with the price tag of a BMW that seats only four because of a battery that runs down the center of the car.”

Editor's Note:

3. Most U.S. Senators Are Millionaires

More than half of the current members of the U.S. Senate are worth at least $1 million — and seven of the 10 richest members of Congress are Democrats.

Those are two of the disclosures from the Washington, D.C.-based newspaper Roll Call’s analysis of Congress based on financial disclosure forms filed in 2010.

Of the 100 senators, 54 are millionaires, topped by Sen. John Kerry, whose worth is estimated at $188.7 million thanks to the ketchup fortune of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

As the economy stagnated in 2009, more than half of the Senate’s membership saw their fortunes grow last year, the period covered by the most recent disclosure reports.

The combined minimum wealth of the Senate was about $680 million in 2009, more than 4 percent higher than the previous year, Roll Call disclosed.

Members of Congress must reveal their investments and liabilities, but only in broad ranges rather than in exact amounts. Roll Call takes the minimum value of total assets and subtracts the minimum amount of liabilities, so an asset valued at from $5 million to $25 million is counted as $5 million.

Rounding out the 10 richest members of Congress, after Kerry, are:

2. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., $160 million. Issa founded Directed Electronics, which makes car alarms.

3. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., $152.6 million. Her husband, Sidney Harman, owns an audio products company whose brand names include Harman Kardon and JBL; he bought Newsweek magazine in August.

4. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., $81.5 million. He is a descendant of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller.

5. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, $73.7 million. His wife owns stakes in companies worth at least $50 million.

6. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., $70.1 million. Warner was a telecom mogul before running for office.

7. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., $56.4 million. Internet entrepreneur Polis sold two companies for more than $1 billion.

8. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., $55.4 million. His empire includes auto dealerships and real estate.

9. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., $49.7 million. He founded the data-processing company ADP.

10. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., $46 million. Her husband’s assets include holdings in Carlton Hotel Properties.

The “poorest” entry on Roll Call’s list of the “50 Richest Members of Congress” is Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who is worth “only” $5.34 million.

Editor's Note:

4. Low-Tax Texas Creates Most New Jobs

More than half of the net new jobs created in the United States during a recent 12-month period were created in Texas — due to economic practices that are a “model of restraint” the federal government could emulate, according to National Review Online.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said 214,000 net new jobs were created from August 2009 to August 2010, and 119,000 of them were created in Texas.

“What does Austin know that Washington doesn’t?” writes National Review Editor Rich Lowry. “At its simplest: Don’t overtax and [over]-spend, keep regulations to a minimum, avoid letting unions and trial lawyers run riot, and display an enormous neon sign saying, ‘Open for Business.’”

A report from the Texas Policy Foundation disclosed that Texas saw a decline of 2.3 percent from its peak employment, compared to 8.7 percent in California and 5.7 nationwide.

California nearly canceled out Texas’ jobs gain by losing 112,000 jobs, and its unemployment rate is above 12 percent, while the rate in Texas stands at 8.3 percent.

Texas has no state income tax, and is among the 10 lowest-tax states in the nation. It’s a right-to-work state that enacted serious tort reform during the last decade.

“Texas is a model of government restraint. In 2008, state and local expenditures were 25.5 percent of GDP in California, 22.8 percent in the U.S., and 17.3 percent in Texas,” Lowry observes.

He concludes: “In Texas in recent decades, the watchwords have been prudence and stability in the course of nurturing a pro-business environment, while California has undergone a self-immolation that President Barack Obama wants to replay nationally.”

Will government allow the private sector to thrive, Lowry wonders, or stifle growth with “its hyperactivity and favoritism for anti-business interests?”

Editor's Note:

5. Campaign Spending to Hit Record $4 Billion

Spending on 2010’s political campaigns has already topped $3 billion and will likely reach a record $4 billion by Election Day — even though this year is a midterm election with no presidential race.

House and Senate candidates have reported raising $1.7 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The political parties have raised about $1.1 billion, and outside interest groups have kicked in at least $400 million.

But the $3.2 billion total is “incomplete amid the frenzy of ad buys and other activity in the week before the election,” the Washington Post observed.

The CRP predicts the federal election contest will cost at least $3.7 billion, with a strong possibility of surpassing $4 billion.

For the week ending Oct. 24, the largest amount of spending in any race was $7.5 million for the Senate battle in Colorado between Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Ken Buck.

The Patty Murray-Dino Rossi Senate race in Washington State was second at $6.2 million, followed by the Pennsylvania Senate race pitting Joe Sestak against Pat Toomey, $6.1 million.

The group spending the most money that week was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $15.3 million, followed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $10.4 million — almost all of it for Republican causes.

Editor's Note:

6. Poll: Republicans Want to Defund Public Radio

A majority of Republicans say the U.S. government should halt its financial contributions to National Public Radio, according to a poll conducted after the controversial firing of NPR news analyst Juan Williams.

In the Poll Position survey, 54 percent of Republicans said yes to this statement: “National Public Radio (NPR) has been the subject of controversy recently. The U.S. government provides a small percentage of NPR’s funding. Do you believe the U.S. government should halt all funding to NPR?”

Only 28 percent said no.

Among Democrats, 25 percent want to defund NPR and 58 percent do not. Less than a majority of independents — 49 percent — said no to a halt in funding, and 38 percent said yes.

Overall, 39 percent want to end funding, and 45 percent do not.

Juan Williams was fired by NPR on Oct. 18 for comments about Muslims that he made on Fox News.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint said he would introduce legislation defunding NPR. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also called for cutting off NPR’s funding, and said he won’t do interviews on the network.

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Obama Claims Credit for Bush-Era Wind Farms 2. Chevy Volt Ripped as an Electric Edsel 3. Most U.S. Senators Are Millionaires 4. Half of New Jobs Created in Low-Tax Texas 5. Campaign Spending to Hit Record...
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 02:17 PM
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