Ed Driscoll

GE: We Bring Bad Karma to Life

“General Electric to investors: Obamacare is hurting our medical business,” Patrick Howley writes at the Daily Caller:

General Electric is telling its investors that Obamacare is to blame for recent losses in the company’s health care division, The Daily Caller has learned.

“Hospitals and clinics appear to be delaying purchases and responses to the ACA [Affordable Care Act],” stated GE senior vice president and CFO Jeffrey S. Bornstein in the company’s first-quarter earnings call.

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, an outside economic adviser to President Obama, confirmed at a shareholder meeting Wednesday that the health sector is experiencing uncertainty.

Asked at the meeting about Obamacare’s impact on the company’s earnings, Immelt responded, “I think there’s still a lot of uncertainty in health care and we’ll just have to see that over time.”

But what’s causing the uncertainty? Not knowing from day to day what the “law” will be it comes to Obamacare — because the “law” is whatever Barry says it is that day. But who went all in from 2009 until it divested itself of its television division last year to promote Obamacare? Why…GE, which co-owned NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC, the latter of which went out of its way — and is still going out of its way — to smear any opponent of Obamcare as racist. Including this classic disaster from 2009:

On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer fretted over health care reform protesters legally carrying guns: “A man at a pro-health care reform rally…wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip….there are questions about whether this has racial overtones….white people showing up with guns.” Brewer failed to mention the man she described was black.

Following Brewer’s report, which occurred on the Morning Meeting program, host Dylan Ratigan and MSNBC pop culture analyst Toure discussed the supposed racism involved in the protests. Toure argued: “…there is tremendous anger in this country about government, the way government seems to be taking over the country, anger about a black person being president….we see these hate groups rising up and this is definitely part of that.” Ratigan agreed: “…then they get the variable of a black president on top of all these other things and that’s the move – the cherry on top, if you will, to the accumulated frustration for folks.”

Not only did Brewer, Ratigan, and Toure fail to point out the fact that the gun-toting protester that sparked the discussion was black, but the video footage shown of that protester was so edited, that it was impossible to see that he was black. The man appeared at a health care rally outside of President Obama’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Arizona.

Last year, GE, employing the voice and face of actor Hugo Weaving, reprising his role as Agent Smith from the 1999 film The Matrix, was comparing its healthcare division in advertisements to the all-seeing electronic agents who guard the otherwise inescapable cybernetic Matrix, which has entombed mankind. As I wrote at the time, “No, That’s Not Creepy At All” for GE to build a TV commercial around this theme:

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I know Agent Smith is a beloved baddie, much like Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies; as James Lileks once quipped, Smith, as portrayed by Weaving, is akin to the characters portrayed by Tony Roberts in Woody Allen’s earlier, funnier movies such as Annie Hall and Play it Again, Sam — the only non-neurotic in the film; the only character having any fun. But given how deeply GE is plugged into the Obama Gleichschaltung, that’s quite an…interesting choice for GE’s healthcare spokesman.

Beginning around 2007, strange messages started emerging from GE and the television networks it owned at the time. First GE, which makes it’s money selling, among other things, light bulbs, told us that we all needed to turn ours off, for the good of the planet. The following year, the large conglomerate got deeply into bed with first candidate and then President Obama; NBC and (particularly) MSNBC are essentially a de facto propaganda wing of the administration, to the point where the White House has emailed in “corrections,” which were read on the air by the latter network.

At the beginning of the Obama administration, GE CEO Jeff Immelt was appointed to the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, presumably helping to see the administration’s now annual “Recovery Summer” debacle, leading near monthly “unexpected” bad economic news.

Patrick Howley of the Daily Caller noted above that when asked at the shareholder meeting “about Obamacare’s impact on the company’s earnings, Immelt responded, ‘I think there’s still a lot of uncertainty in health care and we’ll just have to see that over time.'”

Like The Matrix, I’ve seen this movie before as well. It’s one of central leitmotifs of Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man, her brilliant 2007 history of the New Deal’s long and painful impact on the country.* As Shlaes summarized in a 2011 Bloomberg News column, one of the reasons why America had a “Great” — read: interminably long lasting — Depression was an enormous sense of uncertainty in the minds of business owners as to what deleterious laws were going to come next from the entrenched and capricious Roosevelt administration:

The second under-discussed issue is what scholar Robert Higgs has called “regime uncertainty.” Roosevelt’s victory in 1936 had been so convincing that people believed he might do anything. FDR reinforced this suspicion with an inaugural address so aggressive that modern presidential advisers would never allow it on the teleprompter. Roosevelt told the nation he sought in government “an instrument of unimagined power.” That scared markets and small businesses.

Roosevelt relished hunting down big firms through regulatory action and blaming new sectors, such as utilities, for slowdowns — on some days. Other days, he invited business leaders into the Oval Office and talked about partnership and a “breathing spell.”

This inconsistency itself posed a problem. The diary of an Ohio lawyer named Daniel Roth, which was recently republished, captures the pervasive anxiety of the period. “We are having a bad steel strike in Youngstown and the mills have closed,” Roth wrote on June 22, 1937. “The state and federal governments seem to support the labor unions and there has been a complete breakdown of law and order. Business is very quiet.”

From the U.K., John Maynard Keynes wrote to FDR that it was all right to nationalize utilities or to leave them alone — but what, Keynes asked, was “the object of chasing the utilities around the lot every other week?””

Shortly before he took office, Time magazine declared Mr. Obama the second coming of FDR. Curiously, they meant it as a compliment, not realizing it was a warning of similar economic disasters to come.

* Coming next month in a “graphic novel” edition, a brilliant use of that format.