Television host Bill O’Reilly has long been skewering General Electric and its CEO Jeffrey Immelt for his company’s corruption and double standards. He really let loose on a recent episode of “The O’Reilly Factor,” bringing in several researchers who claim that GE, the company for which Ronald Reagan was spokesman from 1954 to 1062, was heavily involved with a corrupt charity called “Oil-For-Food” in Iraq that benefited Saddam Hussein and got American soldiers killed.
Immelt, besides being the CEO of GE, is also President Obama’s jobs czar. He has consistently lectured businesses in America to pay up and create more jobs regardless of tax and regulatory burdens.
On the show, O’Reilly highlighted how GE had been fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission almost $24 million for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
In the segment, O’Reilly asked Dr. Tom Borelli, who is the director of The Free Enterprise Project, if it is unfair to attack GE specifically for its malfeasance if many other companies were involved.
Borelli answered, “Absolutely not, because there has been a pattern of corruption at General Electric.”
Borelli then went on about how GE had been “cooking the books” to create the perception of higher earnings, which also forced them to settle with the SEC.
This scandal is only one in a long line of offenses both of corruption and hypocrisy that have riled up O’Reilly, and conservatives especially.
Back in July, Immelt got up on his high horse to lecture business owners at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. He said, among other things, that companies must “double the number of engineering interns taken from colleges and universities.” This, of course, doesn’t coincide well with Obama’s plan to crack down on unpaid internships.
He then complained of a lack of skilled U.S. workers. “There are thousands of open jobs in the advanced manufacturing and health care fields, but our training programs have not evolved to keep up with changes in technology or the needs of employers.”
Immelt told business owners in the room, “The people who are part of the business sector, the people in this room, have got to stop complaining about government and get some action under way. There’s no excuse today for lack of leadership. The truth is we all need to be part of the solution.”
While Immelt’s theme at the conference was basically, “American jobs for American workers,” GE shortly thereafter announced that the company will move thousands of GE Healthcare jobs over to China.
A spokeswoman from GE said that the move away from “Waukesha, Wisconsin, was made two years ago and will be completed by early fall.”
In part this move, like many others that GE has made, will allow it to avoid paying taxes. In 2010 GE didn’t pay any federal taxes at all. It did this by hiring an army of lobbyists and tax lawyers, and by shifting businesses overseas.
Worse than the simple act of moving jobs overseas, which is what many other businesses must do to compete in a heavily taxed environment, is the sharing of innovative technology secrets with China. GE has decided to sell highly sophisticated aircraft technology to the Chinese government. The technology being sold is the kind that goes into the military aircraft built by Boeing.
The path that GE has been taking is a far cry from the days when Ronald Reagan was the company’s spokesman. For years before he really entered politics, Reagan traveled around the country speaking positively about the company and its workers. It was from these lectures and his countrywide travels that he crafted the famous “Time for Choosing” speech in the 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign, thereby launching his national political image.
With the corrupt actions of GE and the hypocritical language of its CEO, who is closely aligned with President Obama, it is no wonder that many conservatives have turned against the company.