Free Enterprise Project Launches Petition Calling For General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt To Immediately Resign

Washington, D.C. – Today the Free Enterprise Project released an online petition calling for Jeff Immelt to resign as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric.

The petition can found at

“In a desperate attempt to find revenue, Immelt is seeking to profit from President Obama’s big government agenda,” said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project. “Immelt successfully lobbied for Obama’s failed $787 billion economic stimulus plan and now he is actively lobbying for the president’s cap-and-trade policy. Immelt’s actions are responsible for putting our nation in deeper debt and looting future generations of their economic liberty.”

“Immelt has positioned GE to depend on government spending and public policy initiatives such as cap-and-trade to boost the company’s revenue. For instance, Obama’s cap-and-trade policy would mandate the purchase of renewable energy products such as wind turbines which GE manufactures,” added Borelli.

“Our tax dollars are being laundered to bailout GE via Obama’s big government policies. Under the Obama – Immelt partnership, our progressive president significantly increases the role of government in our lives, Immelt gets much needed revenue and Americans pay for it all in terms of higher taxes, higher national debt and suffer from reduced liberty,” said Tom Borelli.

“When you think of it, Immelt poses more risk to liberty than a progressive Senator. Immelt’s ability to affect public policy has no checks and balances and he is using the vast resources of GE to promote Obama’s agenda. It’s time ‘we the people’ hold Immelt accountable for undermining America’s economic sustainability and our free enterprise system,” added Tom Borelli.

GE’s NBC Universal media empire, especially MSNBC, frequently supports Obama’s policy agenda and its news coverage of patriotic Americans participating in the Tea Party movement has been particularly harsh.

“Immelt has transformed MSNBC from a news network to Obama’s personal public relations agency. It’s outrageous that Immelt allows Keith Olbermann and other talking heads to tarnish the image of liberty loving Tea Party activists as racists. “‘We the people’ have had enough of Obama’s government gone wild spending programs and CEOs such as Immelt that are seeking to profit from taxpayers,” said Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow with the National Center’s Project 21.

“The time has come for Tea Party activists to recognize the threat to liberty posed by CEOs such as Immelt. If GE’s board of directors will not address Immelt’s failed leadership, Tea Party members and other political activists must,” added Deneen Borelli.

The National Center For Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, and receives less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources.

The National Center For Public Policy Research

General Electric: The Worst Bailout in the World

We’ve been hearing over and over again about the astonishing $182.5 billion in bailout funds that the federal government has been pouring into AIG, but you might be surprised to learn that a close runner up to AIG in the bailout sweepstakes is General Electric, which got its own $139 billion bailout in November. So with Congress and the media in a frenzy over AIG bonuses, where’s the GE outrage?

In a wild rant on MSNBC—owned by General Electric–Keith Olbermann denounced Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit’s salary, AIG, Northern Trust, and other bailouts recipients, which he called “vast engorged gluttonous multinational corporations whose sneezes can be fatal to our jobs, whose mistakes can turn us into the homeless, whose accounting errors can be so panoramic that they can make our economy tremble and force us to hand them billions after billions in a blackmail scheme that has come to be known as ‘bailout.’”

That’s great stuff, but somehow, in his righteous indignation, he forgot to mention his own employer’s massive bailout or his own hefty salary on the list of horribles that followed. That’s a heck of an oversight, because even though GE CEO Jeff Immelt decided to forego his 2008 bonus (which the board granted to him even though he missed every one of his performance measures) other GE executives are receiving their bonuses– in some cases millions of dollars.

Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin and Vice Chairman Michael Neal were given 2008 bonuses of $5.2 million and $5.8 million, and chose to return only half. The average GE executive bonus only dropped 19 percent from 2007, even thought GE stock lost 53 percent of its value.

Then there’s Olbermann himself. In November, with GE already in the depths of crisis and just two days before its $139 billion bailout deal was announced, Olbermann signed a lucrative new contract just two years into his then four-year deal, with a hefty raise from $4 million a year up to $7.5 million a year. It’s unknown whether he also got a bonus, but either way that’s a heck of a raise to be paid using freshly given taxpayer bailout dollars.

MSNBC’s other leading light, Chris Matthews, who’s been bashing AIG bonuses nightly, just signed a new contract this week that reportedly pays him over $5 million per year. This is the same Chris Matthews who said his job at MSNBC is to do everything he can to “help” President Obama succeed.

It actually gets worse. My friend Tim Carney has brilliantly described how General Electric (with its MSNBC unit cheering every step of the way, I’ll add) has been one of the prime movers behind the push for the cap-and-trade energy tax, one of the major pieces of President Obama’s budget and economic agenda. In 2008, while GE stock was losing more than half its value, the company spent upwards of $18 million on federal lobbying — the majority of it pushing for cap-and-trade. GE is positioned to make a fortune on a cap-and-trade scheme, rebooting its failed financial derivatives business for every aspect of carbon trading that the Wall Street wizards can dream up.

None of this is to say that Congress should step in and block GE bonuses or tax them away as they’re considering doing to AIG. The rule of law matters, and contracts should be honored (even though Olbermann himself said contracts should be torn up — and overpaid employees of bailout companies should be fired — an idea MSNBC should consider taking him up on). The real problem is the bailouts themselves, which create impossible choices. We’ forced to decide between tax dollars being spent on unpopular things and Congress micromanaging businesses after bailing them out — in essence substituting political decisions for market decisions and greatly damaging our economy and capitalist system.

Is MSNBC taking a hard left-stance to keep the federal bailout dollars flowing from an appreciative Obama administration? It’s impossible to say, but that there could even be the appearance of such a thing is un-American. I’ll be consistent–if GE can’t survive without taxpayer bailouts, it belongs the same place AIG does: bankruptcy court.

By Phil Kerpen
Americans for Prosperity


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