Bailout Watch 573: GM Bailout Cost Taxpayers $12,200 Per Car

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
bailout watch 573 gm bailout cost taxpayers 12 200 per car

This according to the National Taxpayer’s Union report “ The Auto Bailout: A Taxpayer Quagmire,” authored by Rochester Institute of Technology Professor of Economics, Thomas D. Hopkins. That number includes the $52.9b taxpayer “investment” in General Motors, as well as GM’s portion of the GMAC bailout, which brings GM’s taxpayer tab to over $60b. Chrysler’s GMAC-inclusive bailout bill totals $17.4b, or $7,600 per vehicle, based on estimated 2009/2010 sales. Don’t believe that GM or Chrysler will match their projections over the next twelve months? The NTU estimates that total government support for the auto industry comes out to $800 per taxpaying American family. These numbers do not include the Cash for Clunkers program, likely future bailouts of GMAC (projected at a further $2b), or Department of Energy retooling loans (ATVML). These numbers also do not reflect the very real possibility that GM, Chrysler and GMAC could continue to drain taxpayer money post-2010. “For each year of survival beyond 2010,” the report warns, “the burden per vehicle would decline [Ed: but not disappear] – so long as no additional government funding is provided.”

The report concludes:

Viewed from today’s vantage point, the auto bailout is troublesome in a number of respects. As already noted, the bailout has become a taxpayer quagmire, escape from which will be a major public policy challenge. The recommendations offered by the GAO have much merit, especially those focused on developing an exit plan and on ensuring during the interim that management of the three firms is insulated from political pressures. Sound business practices, not special interest advocacy, should prevail. Both require that a qualified, objective and independent team be given full access to current information about the firms’ operating and financial conditions.

Greater transparency should be achieved so that taxpayers will be better able to understand both issues and outcomes. In particular, taxpayers as part-owners of each of the three firms should be given the same information, on the same timely basis, that public corporations routinely would be required to provide shareholders.

More generally, the bailout has been a sobering experience whose adverse consequences cannot be corrected easily. Auto producers whose products American consumers find most appealing have been notably missing from the roster of bailout recipients. Our subsidies instead have gone to the poor performers, firms whose past management decisions proved faulty. As a result the bailout has created moral hazard problems, inadvertently handicapping the progress of stronger, non-subsidized producers. The problems extend beyond just the auto industry, as favored status for one financial company and its bank necessarily complicates prospects for non-subsidized rivals. The time has come to stop such bailouts, and in an orderly way, to seek at least some recovery for taxpayers.

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  • ZoomZoom ZoomZoom on Nov 19, 2009
    John Fritz: I am so tired of financing and endless parade of special interest boondoggles, be they cars, health car, bike lanes or any other government directed expenditure. I think I can decide a lot better where my money should go than our shit can of a government. I am beyond tired. I'm angry. Taking it from me (or from my "rich" employer, the banker down the street, the corporation on Wall Street, or even sports athletes or Hollywood wonks, blah blah) without permission is THEFT. What bothers me more is those who justify it...with straight faces! And what bothers me more than that are those who are not angry. As a country, we should be ashamed of ourselves. We knew who we were voting for, and I don't just mean for the Executive Branch. Yet we we're so quick to give it away...I fear we're less and less deserving of liberty and freedom. And I'll say it again: We need term limits. It's simply a matter of common sense. Twenty, thirty, or fifty years in Congress is TOO LONG, and brings into reality an uncaring (they "say" they care) elite political class. If we are to retain any liberty or freedom for our children and grandchildren, we desperately need to deflate that class and its unhealthy influence over our country. And soon.

  • Akitadog Akitadog on Nov 20, 2009

    Bailout Watch 573? That many already?

  • MaintenanceCosts Imagine that... the OEM that doesn't make absurd false claims about "Full Self-Driving" and that doesn't release beta software onto public streets gets better treatment from the regulator.
  • MaintenanceCosts Yes, yes, balance, quick turn-in, working the gears, blah, blah.I'm sorry, none of it is convincing. A 3-series needs two more cylinders than this so that it doesn't sound like a Jetta on $199/month special.
  • MaintenanceCosts Is Stellantis capable of making a product for the American market without embarrassing levels of over-the-top fake machismo?
  • Philip This raises two questions for me:[list=1][*]What happens to all of the chargepoint that we have installed at our homes? Do those all have to be replaced?[/*][*]What happens to all of the billions of dollars from the federal government being spent on non-tesla ports at wal-marts and pilot service centers? [/*][/list=1]
  • FreedMike I didn't know the 318 was made in anything but that ugly hatchback style.