By on June 23, 2011

Well, I just wrote about 1,500 words on this topic which our post editor just obligingly disappeared into the digital void, wiping out over an hour of work. This was, perhaps, an appropriate turn of events, however, as the majority of those 1,500 words were used to describe the frustrating political stalemate that played out over the last two days of hearings on “The Lasting Implications of the GM Bailout.” The dynamics of the government’s exit from GM seem to have changed little since I wrote “Government Motors: The Exit Strategy,” and the hearings focused on the political implications of the bailout. Having determined that the bailout will help the President’s reelection in midwestern states, the White House (as represented by auto task force member Ron Bloom) sought to retrench its “things would have been worse” position, and Republicans attacked on all fronts for the very same reason. The government’s favorable treatment of UAW-represented workers, especially in comparison to Delphi’s non-UAW retirees was a major point of attack, and the committee caused Bloom deny (under oath) having ever said that “I did this all for the unions,” despite the fact that both the Detroit News’s David Shepardson and Bloom’s task force colleague  Steve Rattner have quoted him directly. Emails obtained by The Daily Caller were also presented as (more) evidence that the government intervened in a number of day-to-day decisions at GM, including the Delphi retiree issue.

Ultimately, the Republicans landed some serious body blows on the policy, although nothing radically new was presented. Bloom, meanwhile, defended the bailout by arguing that the alternative would have been much worse. In short, the political stalemate over the auto bailout continues… much to GM’s dismay. And since insiders are indicating that any collusion to boost GM’s stock price in order to improve the taxpayers’ return would be worse than a larger loss, a $10b+ loss is as good as guaranteed. Which means the Republican attacks will continue and the political trench warfare over the issue will only continue.

[Watch the bailout hearings here]

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62 Comments on “Frustrations Flare At GM Bailout Hearings: Did Ron Bloom Perjure Himself?...”


  • avatar
    Britspeak

    Nothing in the current economic crisis of the U.S. leaves me so ambivalent as the GM bailout.

    The one point I always understood in the pro-bailout argument was the fact that the complete failure of GM would leave literally millions of skilled workers unemployed, and of course the government would be reponsible for the titanic unemployement claims that resulted. Not sure if it was reliable, but I read that it was estimated that unemployement would jump an entire percentage point in the worst case scenario. It just seemed more resonable to pay people to work, rather than simply collect benefits.

    And then, like everyone else, I see that the ridiculous hubris of GM management is unaffected by the bailout. Its maddening that the complete incompetence of GM, its borad of directors, and its shareholders / bond holders is rewarded via tax dollars and special favours. I really don’t think most GM insiders understand how little faith the U.S. has in the company, nor how upset and dissapointed we are that a once great company (truly an icon of American business) turned into an utter failure, all the while insulting us with its marketing (Remember “Keep America Rolling” after 9/11?)… What a company. Ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @Britspeak:

      I think GM’s real “hubris” was making uncompetitive cars and expecting people to buy them because they were GM products. Clearly that’s not the case anymore. If GM was still making crap cars and expecting to foist them off on the public, AND using the taxpayer to make it happen, I’d see your point.

      But their product HAS improved – dramatically. And sales are definitely up. Granted, a lot of this is due to the better economy and the Japanese tsunami, but honestly, if they were still making crap cars, their results wouldn’t be as good as they are.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Let’s not forget the highest level of incentives in the industry.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        And let’s not forget that they have the highest transaction prices too.

      • 0 avatar
        Britspeak

        Thanks for your reply — I’m not in any position to judge the current products of GM, other than from what I read in the automotive press, so I’ll hope that they have indeed finally turned that corner.

        However, when I read that ‘The company [GM] spent an average of $3,566 per vehicle on sales incentives in the period [last quarter], the most among the eight largest automakers by U.S. sales…’ I know that its not ‘quality’ that is selling GM cars. (The quote is from Bloomberg)

        What I see is the same old marketshare-chasing strategy that lures untutored customers with discounts and sabotages resale value, and commits a thousand other sins as well… I see that as business as usual for GM, and completely delusional.

      • 0 avatar
        evan

        You want some evidence of the continuing stupidity and vanity at GM’s executive level?

        A memo to employees telling them to stop using the name Chevy… the article has a good dissection of the marketing fallacy behind the memo.

        http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2010/06/10/general-motors-completely-stupid-idea.aspx

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        And let’s not forget that GM sells more full-size pick-up trucks and SUVs, which drives up the average transaction price. That’s not the same as people being willing to pay more for a Malibu than an Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      RRocket

      “the complete failure of GM would leave literally millions of skilled workers unemployed” is pretty much a joke. As much as the UAW likes to insist, it takes ZERO skill to work on the line. No special physical requirements, no education, nothing. The only special “skill” these people require is to show up for work on time and be able to swipe a time card. This is why these same autos formerly built in the USA can be built in 3rd world countries by uneducated men, women…and in some cases near-children. Because it takes no special skills at all.

      Calling line workers “skilled” is an insult to the few true skilled trade workers (electricians, mechanics, millwrights, etc) who do work for auto manufacturers.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        RRocket….Oh would I love to see in the pit installing gas tanks at 72 jobs per hour.

        If I had a dollar for every guy I saw with your attitude,I’d be a rich dude.

        Most of them don’t last the first day, before they go crying to the foreman..”I can’t keep up to the line, can I try another job”

      • 0 avatar
        bytheway

        LOL, I agree..apparantly they cant even do that right. Look up the problem the Tahoe’s have with cracked dashboards. Pathetic. No wonder they went bankrupt. Bunch of idiots on the line putting crap together.

        My 15 yr old Honda CRV’s dashboard is 10x higher quality than ANYTHING GM has, and will probably ever have.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      But we can express how we, the people, feel about the bail outs by voting with our wallets. I have seen expressed on this and other boards that people who support these bail outs should buy GM and Chrysler products. Those who do not support the bail outs should buy something else. It really is as simple as all that.

      If we are ever to get back some of that bail out money, GM has got to be profitable again to the point where it can stand on its own without tax payer support and special tax accommodations. We’re not there yet, not by a long shot, so buying one of their products, or not, is a valid expression of how we each feel about it. Consider that the next time you’re in the market to buy a new car or truck.

  • avatar
    probert

    It’s not that the non union workers got treated poorly that bothers the Republicans – it’s that any worker got treated well.

    But the thing is – this is why Unions exist – to force decent treatment of workers.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The union played out their hand and succeeded in bankrupting their employer. People are right to be resentful of having to sustain a self destructive system of graft.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Ah, yes, welcome to the backwards world of CJinSD…where Obama runs for re-election by ruining the economy of Texas…and GM workers try to keep their jobs by forcing their employer into bankruptcy. Why had I not seen these revelatory truths before he told me about them?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I asked you for an alternate explanation for Obama/Sunstein’s action in closing Texas power plants and oil fields. Re-election does sound like a stretch, unless Obama is worried about Texas’ Governor handing him his hat by being able to show that the policies we need are the exact ones Obama rejects.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJinSD:
        “I asked you for an alternate explanation for Obama/Sunstein’s action in closing Texas power plants and oil fields.”
        Only one coal fired Texas power plant is being closed…in 2018. It will be replaced by a plant that still burns coal (which seems to make right wingers happy) but uses new technology to avoid environmental damage.

        http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFN1E75J24420110620?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

        So…replacing a dirty plant with a cleaner one. Pure evil, if you ask me. And the oil field shutdowns (again, over environmental concerns) haven’t even happened yet, and I doubt they will.

        You’re grasping at straws, CJ.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I was going to point out that a story about one plant doesn’t mean it is the only plant, but all you’d have to do is read the story you linked to all the way through to find mention of another coal fired plant in Texas that will close to comply with the new EPA regulations. Be more careful if you’re trying to mislead by presenting a story about one plant as evidence that it is the only plant. The least you should do is assume I’ll read the story. Sorry if you aren’t used to playing with people who read.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJ:

        Exactly, older coal fired plants are closing and new ones that burn a lot cleaner are being built to replace them. It’s happening all over the country. They’re building one in Missouri too. And I fail to see the issue with that, aside from having to pay a bit more for my electricity…which I’ll do to help protect the environment, because coal fired plants are an environmental menace in several proven, inarguable ways that have nothing to do with global warming.

        Again, you’re making this sound evil…when it’s anything but.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Probert, instead of making baseless, hysterical charges about mistreatment of workers, provide some examples to us. You can’t recycle some tired old Marxist crap and expect to be taken seriously. And I mean real examples too, not like the guy here a couple of days ago who said businesses try to kill their employees and customers and then ran away without backing his charges up with facts.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Here we go again…anyone who complains that workers don’t get treated well is a Marxist. Last I checked, treating workers well is basic humanity 101, not Marxism, capitalism, or any other “ism.”

        Keep this kind of garbage rhetoric up, Mike. Encourage your party to do the same. And then we’ll see who’s the winner come next November.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The inflammatory rhetoric cuts both ways. The fact that five workers died while on the job in a tragic accident is not proof that a company wanted to “kill its workers,” which is what you asserted in an earlier discussions. Pot, meet kettle…

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Welcome back Mike, good to see you again. Have you read your Constitution lately to find anymore rights that don’t exist? You left that discussion too soon, I was looking forward to continuing our Constitutional debate.

        Don’t deny that the principle tenet of Marxism is the exploitation of labor by capital. That claim was Marxist to its core as well as completely bogus.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @geeber:
        Accident, my ass…more like an accident the company knew was waiting to happen and did nothing about. They knowingly sent those men into a dangerous situation without proper safety precautions. At a bare minimum, that’s negligent homicide.

        You also might remember that I was very clear that this isn’t an indictment against ALL companies, but it sure as hell indicts this particular one.

        And it clearly shows that companies still do knowingly do this kind of thing.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Rights such as…?

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        MikeAR,
        Not that I agree with the statements that were made here on either side, but asking for real examples on the internet isn’t going to happen. How many times you read my father X car and it had Y problems? Or my neighbor, friend, sister, cousin etc.

        This is the internet. Your real examples of car problems don’t make a trusted news source unless there is a recall or death.

        But, reading what he wrote, I am guessing that he was more commenting on the union workers being treated well during the bankruptcy proceedings rather than poor treatment at work.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Deep Water Horizon – Transocean, Haliburton, et al
        Upper Big Branch Mine – Massey Energy
        Texas City Refinery – BP
        Kleen Energy Sys CT power plant – O&G, Keystone, Bluewater Energy

        Just a few examples from recent news and the OSHA website. All examples of companies choosing to cut operating costs that resulted in employee deaths.

        No human endeavor can ever be entirely safe, but companies always make choices between safety and profits. All too often, profits win out over safety.
        Edit – In response to Geeber’s post since I started my post: It makes little difference to the employees lost in a workplace (and their families) whether the company wanted to kill the employee or just didn’t care enough to provide a safe working environment. The result is the same.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        I’ll admit, things do happen, very bad things, but no one at those companies went into discussins about safety thinking that it would be cheaper to have employees killed than to have a perfectly safe workplace. The people who made those decisions, wrongly, assumed that nothing bad would happen. They were very wrong and will have to live with that the rest of their lives. Nothing is perfectly safe but no company is that heartless. Everyone who comes up with this line about companies killing people needs to watch less tv and movies. Those storylines about evil corporations are fiction, I repeat, they aren’t real.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        “Nothing is perfectly safe but no company is that heartless.”

        It’s rare to ever find out just what went into corporate decision making, but there can be no doubt that a monetary value is placed on preventing the loss of life. Consider the revelations in the Ford Pinto gas tank issue; Ford decided it would be cheaper to settle claims than fix the design (and that was for customers’ lives!). As I said, whether the sin is one of commission or omission, the result is the same and stems from the same desire: maximizing profits.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        How about all the small people that lost their jobs at Enron, or Worldcom, or Lehman Brothers, because of top-tier greed and malfeasance?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @MikeAR:

        “Nothing is perfectly safe but no company is that heartless. Everyone who comes up with this line about companies killing people needs to watch less tv and movies. Those storylines about evil corporations are fiction, I repeat, they aren’t real.”

        Really? I’m making this stuff up, then…

        Alaska Airlines directly caused the crash of one of its planes, with something like 200 people on board, by cheaping out on recommended maintenance on its planes. That took a lot of heart.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Airlines_Flight_261#Inadequate_lubrication_and_end_play_checks

        The pilot of the Colgan Air flight that crashed in Buffalo, killing 50 people, failed numerous flight tests and was not adequately trained to handle an emergency in the plane he was flying. The comapny put him in the cockpit anyway. I have to hand it to the company for their good intentions.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colgan_Air_Flight_3407#Investigation

        A hotel in Colorado had workers renovate asbestos-laden rooms without permits, and when they were ordered to stop by the authorities, they sent in the cleaning staff to clean up the rooms affected…and rented them out to guests. You gotta have heart, right?
        http://www.mesorc.com/blog/2011/04/21/colorado-hotel-rented-out-rooms-contaminated-by-asbestos

        Ford Motor Company knew all about the “exploding Pinto” problem but decided it would be cheaper to pay the lawsuits than to fix the problem. Took real heart to come to that decision.
        http://online.ceb.com/calcases/CA3/119CA3d757.htm

        Tobacco companies knew cigarettes caused cancer and heart disease for DECADES and continued to tell consumers they were safe. You can chalk up the deaths of my father and grandfather to that good-hearted decision.

        And on and on.

        Yes, companies CAN be that heartless. And they oftentimes are.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        @ClutchCarGo:
        I understand and do sympathize with you on that point, but I must say that you are wrong about the Pinto case. It is a far more complex issue than most people realize, and Ford doesn’t deserve half the blame they have gotten for the whole debacle. There are better examples of the kind of behavior you’re describing.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        FreedMike: Accident, my ass…more like an accident the company knew was waiting to happen and did nothing about. They knowingly sent those men into a dangerous situation without proper safety precautions. At a bare minimum, that’s negligent homicide.

        Proof, please. You have no proof that the company sent purposefully sent those men into a dangerous situation. Wikipedia citations don’t count.

        This simplistic approach may appeal to your beliefs – you still believe the now-discredited Mother Jones narrative about the Ford Pinto – but those of us with a more sophisticated understanding of how things work in the real world realize that things simply aren’t this black and white.

        Very few companies intentionally send workers into unsafe conditions, and quite a few safety violations are driven by employees themselves, as compliance with safety regulations is often cumbersome and inconvenient.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Judging by the attitudes of the politicians who called this hearing it was bound to be as scripted as a Moscow show trial. And if we’re going to turn a joke into a legal issue there’s no credibility to anything the house leadership is doing these days.

    • 0 avatar
      Tommy Boy

      The Moscow show trial is a good analogy, but so is the following: the event(s) that precipitated the show trial — Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” PR offensive declaring the “success” of the auto bailouts — was an Orwellian masterpiece of Newspeak, what with its revisionist history and mis-stated facts and figures. Even the Washington Post had to admit that Obama was spouting some of the biggest volume of BS they’d ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      +1000

      The auto industry bailout was miniscule compared to the bank bailout. I hear no mention of that fiasco.

      It rings of class warfare.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Why not? People have lost their jobs, been sued and turned into pariahs for poor jokes before. Look at that talentless hack Tracy Morgan to use a recent example. Just because you don’t agree with the purpose of the hearings doesn’t mean that they aren’t valid. Besides, didn’t someone say once that all comedy has some basis in fact? My thought is that he said it and meant it then lied about it.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Yeah, but do you really think it’s worthwhile to – as the saying goes – make a Federal case out of it? Then again this is politics first…

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        MikeAR – you say “he said it and meant it then lied about it”. Any proof he meant it, since you, correctly, wanted an earlier poster to provide proof of a claim.

        The text in the article says clearly “he was there to lighten the mood… he jokingly declared”. Pretty clear it was a joke, I agree he shouldn`t have lied. But I can understand facing some of the GOP senators who will twist what is said that he denied it.

        Maybe he should take a leaf out of the book of Senator Kyl from Arizona and say “my comment was not meant to be factual accurate” when he grossly exaggerated Planned Parenthood’s abortion activities and expenses. if it is OK for a senator to lie on the floor of the senate then this is OK. Or does it only cut one way?

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        Could we say the same thing as the scripted congressional hearings on Toyota SUA?

        Seriously, both were just grandstanding.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Mike, read what I said. I started the sentence by stating clearly that it was my opinion. An opinion does not have to have a basis in fact, it is my belief that he meant it. I do not have to provide any proof of an opinion.

        But if I had said that it was a fact that he lied, there’s no way I could prove that, so I offered my opinion. By the way, do you understand why voting rights weren’t mentioned in the original Constitution?

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Is this the part where MikeAR goes on another rant about how women shouldn’t be allowed to vote?

        Seriously, dude, it’s getting old.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        No rant about women voting, I happen to think that if they vote the right way, then they should vote. Anyone who votes the wrong way, male or female, shouldn’t vote.

        I was trying without much success to get Mike to actually understand what the Constitution was and was not. He lacked the understanding that the document limited government, not gave it authority over everything. Some of you guys who vote wrong ought to read it and take it to heart, then maybe you would change your world view.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        “Limited government” coming one post after “citizens should not necessarily have the right to vote”.

        Something ain’t adding up here, Mike.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        “Anyone who votes the wrong way, male or female, shouldn’t vote.”

        And that right there, ladies and gentlemen, says all you really need to know about the amount of respect “libertarians” have for democracy. But I’m sure we’ll hear some inane rant now about Obama canceling the election and purposefully attacking “right-to-work” (read: union-busting) states.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        “Anyone who votes the wrong way, male or female, shouldn’t vote.”

        It seems that we can save a lot of money on elections now. We only need MikeAR to vote to tell all the rest of us how we should have voted.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @MikeAR:

        “No rant about women voting, I happen to think that if they vote the right way, then they should vote. Anyone who votes the wrong way, male or female, shouldn’t vote.”

        Wow. Welcome to Bizarro World. That’s right up there with “When the president does it, it’s not illegal.”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    …and on August 11, 1984, Ronald Reagan joked that we were launching a nuclear attack on the Soviets in five minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      And did Reagan actually launch the attack? Because the ‘joke’ here was a statement of fact.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Not necessarily. The unions did benefit, as did others, but that is quite different from saying I did it ALL for the unions. Just like I can say I am buying a better car for me alone, when the benefit can also be for my wife, children etc. Anyway this is a sterile argument.

        I am glad congress is looking into the accounts. I just hope the same level of enquiry is spent on the Wall Street/bank bailouts which were many times bigger.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        It was a statement of fact the way YOU see it. Then again, the way you see it, the president of the United States is also trying to destroy a state economically by cutting off its electric supply (never mind that Texas is still lit up and that actively trying to tank a state’s economy might be a sure way to get voted OUT of office, but I digress…). Perhaps the problem is with YOUR perception.

        Me? I see jobs saved. I don’t care if they’re union or non-union. The banks that got bailed out had non-unionized workforces, and I supported those bailouts too. In the end, a job is a job…doesn’t matter if it’s unionized or not. That it does to you speaks volumes of your weird ideological viewpoint.

        Therefore, who cares if the guy was joking or not? Jobs were saved. It was the right move.

    • 0 avatar
      Bryce

      Difference is the entire planet knew Ronnie Raygun was a moron noone ever took that clown seriously

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        He changed the world for the better, which can’t be said of too many other 20th century politicians. The Soviets took him seriously, as did everyone I’ve met who lived under Soviet communism and is old enough to remember it. Pretty much the only people who didn’t take Ronald Reagan seriously were delusional ignoramuses.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Bryce, it is two words, no one. Literacy counts.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    As they used to say in Accounting 101, the Big Bailout is now a sunk cost. Spent, gone, forgetaboutit. It was an obvious political play and it will likely work for BHO and entourage. It’s like WWII. A horrible experience with ramifications we will live with forever. The lesson is we need to remember and never ever do that again. When I read about BHO’s NLRB vs. Boeing mugging I wonder if we’ve learned anything.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree, it is a spent cost. We should learn about it. Also it was started under Bush so it was not initiated for Obama’s political popularity.
      You can argue it is a cause of unpopularity. Anyway important decisions like these should be on what is best, not what is necessarily widely popular. Being right and popular are not usually the same.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    One really has to wonder how much faux outrage is left on this issue. Personally, I think these hearings are about the last gasp, but then again 2012 is right around the corner. But will Republicans really have the audacity to run on an anti-union platform after Wisconsin? You never know.

    Even in these comments you still see the same tired dances playing out. It’s clear that almost nobody has a real emotional investment in it anymore. I think the bloggers just continue to post these stories because they enjoy watching us yell at each other in the comments section, but there has to be a point of diminishing return.

    • 0 avatar
      Bryce

      Republicans being basicly stupid will try any pack of lies be prepared to believe nothing they say and you really cant go wrong

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        That is a pretty garbled statement there. Care to amaend it with the truth? Republicans aren’t the stupid ones, it’s your side I’d think from trying to decipher that mess you wrote.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Wow, that was a dumb exercise. I can’t believe that this is what a politician’s job is. Mike Kelly is the most ridiculus, but the guy from Ohio trying to get Bloom to talk about Delphi when Bloom had already said that he can’t talk about it was ridiculous too. ugh

  • avatar
    PHDC

    BREAKING NEWS!: Washington Post charges White House and Department of Energy with corruption and bribe-taking in funding (and not funding) green energy projects. Details at:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obamas-focus-on-visiting-clean-tech-companies-raises-questions/2011/06/24/AGSFu9kH_story.html?nav=emailpage

    Also see updates to background of this story at:

    http://corruptiondoe.weebly.com

    This is why there has not been a single mainstream-market American all-electric car built since the program started in 2008. Write the media and demand an FBI and Dept. of Justice public investigation & hearing. The White House and certain politicians have stopped the law enforcement agencies from investigating this. Tell them you know what is up and to get the investigation going!


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