When is a Bailout Not a Bailout?

When is a bailout not a bailout?  When the company being bailed out: a) is politically well-connected; b) owns major media properties, including two national television networks; and c) has friendly ties to the current administration.  In other words, when you’re GE. 

 Since the onset of the current financial crisis General Electric, one of America’s biggest companies, has seen its corporate bonds underwritten by the FDIC to the tune of $41 billion — a number that, under current commitments, could rise as high as $126 billion.  Yet company flaks continue to insist this does not constitute a bailout, even though it’s a federal guarantee that leaves taxpayers holding the bag if things go bad.  If it quacks like a duck….

The idea that federal loan guarantees are not bailouts would be pretty big news to folks like Lee Iacocca, the former Chrysler chief who used a federal loan guarantee (which everyone at the time agreed was a “bailout”) to save the company back in the 1980s.  And it would be big news to Mexico, famously bailed out with loan guarantees by the Clinton administration in 1995. 

Until GE started spinning the facts like they were in a washing machine, loan guarantees were synonymous with bailouts.  But GE, one of the more environmentally and politically correct companies under the leadership of CEO Jeffrey Immelt, has two news organizations — NBC and MSNBC — under its control.  And they give the Obama Administration and its allies a valuable platform from which to speak to the public in a non-partisan, informative manner.

Now, even before the bailout, GE was not exactly a good corporate citizen, and our tax dollars are being used to prop up a company that — through a complicated series of corporate loopholes and offshore bank accounts — violated U.S. prohibitions against trade with Iran to the tune of $270 million.  Disturbingly, this took place in the years immediately following 9/11, with a country that the State Department has labeled the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world.  

Even so, I am pretty wary of using bailouts as a pretext for bashing corporations and exerting more government control and overt politicization.  I opposed the bailouts and wish they would all end as quickly as possible, but using them to increase government control makes a bad situation worse.

Calling for an end to bailouts was precisely what I was doing when I promoted, which the George Soros-backed outfit ThinkProgress blasted me for.  This is the same George Soros who recently said “I’m having a very good crisis” and made $1.1 billion last year.  Not that I’m against people making obscene amounts of money — this is still America, right? — but somehow populist rant-master Keith Olbermann has managed to avoid taking any shots at Soros.

So it was an surreal moment for me, when a preening anti-corporate, bailout-bashing Keith Olbermann attacked me for promoting an anti-bailout web site on a network funded by taxpayer bailout dollars based on a story made up by a website that’s a front for George “pretty good crisis” Soros.

It’s been a pretty good crisis for Mr. Olbermann, as well. While GE was reaching out for billions in taxpayer dollars with one hand, they were handing the bombastic television host a massive raise with the other — nearly doubling his annual compensation from $4 million to $7.5 million, only halfway through his four year contract.

Of course, not wanting to leave anybody behind as the Hypocrisy Express pulled out of station, MSNBC host Chris Matthews was also rewarded with a reported four year contract extension, providing an annual taxpayer-guaranteed compensation of $5 million.  Hopefully now he can afford to have a doctor investigate the odd “thrill” that he feels going up his leg whenever he hears Obama speak.   

Enough is enough.  That’s why I started the web site to call out Keith Olbermann, MSNBC, and General Electric for taking our tax dollars to spew big government propaganda and attack people like me for standing up to this unprecedented onslaught of government.  If you agree, come to the web site and sign the petition.


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