By on September 22, 2010

The article I’m about to write may give you one of two reactions:

1. You may shrug your shoulders and see nothing wrong with it.

Or 2. You may burst a blood a vessel.

Ready…?

The Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors has lifted their self imposed ban on political contributions since their bankruptcy. Well, it is a little improper to spend taxpayer money to influence tax payers’ representatives.  During the current election cycle, Federal Election Commission records show that GM has spent $90,500 on candidates running. The beneficiaries named so far were Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Sen. John Dingell and Sen. Sherrod Brown. What do all these people have in common? That’s right. They are all Democrats. They are all members of the party who helped organize the government sponsored bankruptcy of GM. There was one Republican who benefited, Eric Cantor, but as the WSJ said “…the House Republican Whip, who would likely assume a top leadership post if Republicans win control of the House in November.” It is good practice to hedge one’s bets. GM spokesperson, Greg Martin, defended the actions by saying “as we’ve emerged as a new company, we’re not going to sit on the sidelines as our competitors and other industries who have PACs are participating in the political process.”

Now I don’t claim to be a Michael Moore or a Jesse Ventura activist, but something doesn’t sit right with me. A government owned company using taxpayers’ money to “contribute” to politicians to help them get re-elected and the main beneficiaries are the people who saved your company with more taxpayer money.

Thoughts, everyone…?

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101 Comments on “The Term “Government Motors” Takes On More Meaning....”


  • avatar
    mtypex

    Old news, not surprising, and all the money in the world won’t save John Dingell if the voters are angry.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I’m doing my part.  No GM, no way, no never ever.  (Of course, my long and extensive experience with GM’s junk has convinced me that no company run by MBA types should EVER get close to science and engineering.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Did Chrysler stop making political contributions? How about Freddie or Fannie? How about any of the financial institutions that received TARP money? Did any company that received bailout funds in any way from the Government cease political contributions?
    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  • avatar
    JJ

    I’m not from the US but I think this kind of practise is not very savoury. Then again, it seems that large corporations donating money to political candidates without full disclosure is a common practise in the US for many years (and is a growing concern in my country as well), and in that regard this is just another extra step that might not be a giant leap. IMO, since unfortunately it’s completely unrealistic to prohibit companies or activist groups or religious leaders from influencing political canditates to further their respective causes in exchange for money, the next best thing is full disclosure.
    It should be known to the people where (aspiring) politicians get their funding from, so the people can then hold them accountable if they engage in actions that are benefiting these contributors and are not necessarily benefiting to the common cause.
    I’m not quite sure how much of this disclosure is already requisite by law but it would seem not enough, although in this case, at least you were able to find out that GM contibutes to these politicians and in writing this article you can hold them accountable (to a point).
    So singling out GM for a problem that’s common place is maybe unnecessary eventhough they have a special position as they are now state-owned.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I don’t by GM because I don’t deal with Government. And I am against bailouts and government policies and lobbyists, etc. So they can advertise all they want. In my family no one will by any GM product. I mean very extended family.

    • 0 avatar
      valkraider

      I don’t by GM because I don’t deal with Government.

       
      Really?
       
      So you don’t have a drivers license?  You don’t register a car or by on-road gasoline?  You don’t watch TV?  You don’t use cell phones?  You don’t drive on roads, use parks, or have kids in schools?  You don’t utilize fire protective services or police services?  You don’t have fishing or hunting licenses?  You don’t get vaccines?  You don’t fly or use airports?  You don’t ride the train?  You have not bought a home?
      But it appears you DO use the internet.
      So since you do use the internet, and since you presumably have used one of those other things (or any other number of things I didn’t list) you *do* deal with the government.
      Sorry to burst your bubble.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      He must have attended a private school … ooops those have to be accredited by the government also. Oh, I get it, he’s from Somalia … no government there.

    • 0 avatar
      ccttac

      I don’t by GM because I don’t deal with Government.
       
      Don’t drink municipal water, enjoy good health because sewage is disposed of for you, mail letters, receive letters, use electricity, gas, etc.?? Really???
       

    • 0 avatar
      jbcrzn

      I don’t by GM because I don’t deal with Government.

      I would assume the comment is more directed to sectors of our economy that government historically had not been directly managing in lieu of affecting the industry through legislation or adjacent aspects such as DMV, roadways, etc.  I have some compassion for Chrysler and GM, as a part of their demise was due to government involvement through legislative restriction – product and labor.
      Be that as it may, my concern is that I would love to by a vehicle from a manufacturer that does not accept taxpayer money, however, I cannot verify that there are any in the US, whether direct bailouts for Chrysler, GM or loans for product development such as Ford and Nissan.  I have not seen facts that Toyota accepted loans or funds, but with the hybrid development, I suspect it.  Does anyone know of any manufacturers such as Hyundai, Volkswagen, etc. that is not taking tax payer money (and I am not including municipal tax breaks for developing an assembly site, rather true loans or grants)?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Now I don’t claim to be a Michael Moore or a Jesse Ventura activist, but something doesn’t sit right with me. A government owned company using taxpayers’ money to “contribute” to politicians to help them get re-elected and the main beneficiaries are the people who saved your company with more taxpayer money.

    No, it isn’t right.

    I’d hazard that lobbying in general is a problematic practice as it greatly distorts the “representative” part of “representative republic”, giving those who can afford to lobby far, far greater influence than the bulk of the citizenry.

    But paying for it via taxes? Well, considering defence, telecomm, the media and agriculture do it all the time can we really blame automobilia for the same?  Again, the problem isn’t taxes, the problem is lobbying, and the wealth to do it.

    Once again we get back to the (lack of) (anarcho-)syndicalist and libertarian political parties in the United States.   On the other hand, you might get at least one if the Republicans succeed in destroying themselves.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Upset?  Yes.  Surprized?  No.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I can’t disagree. But there’s a much larger issue here. No corporation (or organization, for that matter) should be allowed to make political donations of any kind whether to candidates, PACs, or poltico-owned or affiliated charities.

    That’s justt the start. The real problem with politics in this country is money. It’s absurd that $50 million should, for example, be spent on a *primary* for a State Attorney General campaign.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Or that Meg Whitman should have already spent $100 million running for governor here in California. Something’s wrong with that. I don’t know a solution, though.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      And has anyone ever heard these politicians speak publicly as to why they blow millions of their own dollars on political positions that will never pay back the fortune that was spent to get elected?
      The best one I’ve heard was the guy on the East Coast that says he was running to address irresponsible spending by the gov’t. Since I doubt the wisdom of his own expenditures, why would I believe he’d do better running the gov’ts budget?
      My coworker claims that these folks run for office spending their own fortunes because they have really strong beliefs about how our gov’t should be run and they are willing to spend their own fortunes to get there.
      I’m having a hard time not laughing in my coworker’s face.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Several arteries popped.  But why should we be surprised?  Money is the lubricant of our modern political ecosystem.  Obama (via Rahm Emanuel) has figured out how to recycle it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Every government knows how to recycle money, or haven’t you noticed agriculture, then defense, then the media have been at it for at least two centuries?  If you’re just noticing this now, you’ve not been paying attention.
       
      Heck, this isn’t really a first for automobilia: they’ve a long and storied history of using the proceeds from government largess to influence policy.
       
      If there’s one good thing about lobbying, it’s that (I hope) it keeps the flow of money aboveboard and documented.  But that’s like the difference between drinking castor oil instead of bitrex

  • avatar
    musiccitymafia

    Two thoughts:

    1. Welcome to America – where we spread a little grease to keep the machine humming

    2. The tone of this article is familiar to those found on Fox News. Why?

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Yes, pretty impressive considering Cammy sits at the other end of the political spectrum. I guess both sides can agree that we live in a sewer.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      “The tone of this article is familiar to those found on Fox News. Why?”

      Indeed. It does appear that Faux News is considered a significant source of “information” by at least a couple of TTAC staffers, much to the detriment of the quality of this site. It’s a shame, really. Personally, I’m here for the cars but if we must talk politics then I feel it necessary to point out that there are only two kinds of right wingers — the sociopathic rich and the fools whom they’ve brainwashed. But perhaps more importantly, in the USA the game is rigged anyway. The Demoblicans and the Republicrats are owned by the same corporate masters. All we get is the illusion of choice, but most people just aren’t smart enough to see that.

      EDIT: BTW, the pin in the balloon of this troll is the fact that the bailout was initiated by a Republican administration headed by one George “Duh-bya” Bush.

    • 0 avatar

      Cynicism rules the day. Haven’t you heard?

  • avatar
    geeber

    The beneficiaries named so far were Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Sen. John Dingell and Sen. Sherrod Brown. What do all these people have in common? That’s right. They are all Democrats.

    What they also have in common is that they probably received lots of money from the “old” GM, too.

    I can understand the concern over an entity using taxpayer money to help elect its favorite candidates. But I can’t buy that these contributions are some sort of “payback” for the bailout. And I speak as someone who was skeptical of the bailout in the first place.

    What really matters is that they all are incumbents, and all represent areas where GM has major operations, either plants or its headquarters. Of course the “new” GM is going to donate to their political war chests – just as the “old” GM probably did.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if these officials have all received substantial sums of money from Ford, too. Sherrod Brown, who represents Ohio, has probably even received money from Honda (it has at least two big plants in that state).

  • avatar
    brettc

    Not surprised at all. The GM circle-jerk continues even though they’re a “new and improved” company and it’s all full loan paybacks and rainbows and unicorns.
    I’ll vote with my dollars, which means no GM products ever. Of course my parent’s ’81 Iraqi-bu and ’87 Celebrity didn’t really help my impression of GM products. My grandmother still has her ’95 Regal, but since she’s 91 I don’t think she’ll be buying anything else from the General. I hate GM so much, that I’d rather deal with VW electrical gremlins than buy a new GM product.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    John Dingell is a U.S. Representative, not a Senator.
     
    The other thing in common to those three is that they all represent areas where GM has a business/manufacturing interest, which I am sure GM will argue mitigates the overt political nature of the contribution.
     
    Cantor is my representative; there are no GM business interests in this district that I am aware of.  That is a purely political hedge.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Regardless of who they contributed to, as long as they are govt owned, it is improper. Period.

  • avatar

    As long as the govt can pick winners and losers in a billion dollar industry (and they can), business will find it cost effective to spend money to influence those picks. Pretty simple.
    I wish there were something I could do to punish them like not buying a GM car, but I’ve never bought one before, and don’t see any reason I would start now.

  • avatar
    CopperCountry

    Yes, the whole deal is ‘improper’. From the shakedown of the first secured bondholders (what’d they get?, 30 cents on the dollar?), to propping up the union pensions, to culling certain dealers while favoring others, to keeping the assembly plants running during the necessary summer shutdown (just so gov’t types could claim that their stewardship resulted in more jobs and greater productivity).

    And now, we have a self-sustaining money merry-go-round to keep GM-favorable politicians in office. Sickening.

    Oh, and let’s not forget that the involuntary forfeiture of our tax dollars for the bailout may result in China gaining control of a debt-free auto company.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      From the shakedown of the first secured bondholders (what’d they get?, 30 cents on the dollar?)

      Can we drop this particular bit of propaganda?

      Had the government not stepped in, the bondholders would have gotten far less. Had they gone into Chapter 7, the bondholders would have gotten nothing.  This “poor little bondholders” meme makes great play, but it’s very much divorced from reality, which was that the bondholders got greedy because the government was involved and their “plight” made great copy for the anti-bailout crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      You’re highlighting the big problem with the bailout – the government DID pick winners and losers. Some parties made virtually no sacrifices, while others took it in the shorts.

      Maybe the bondholders did make out better under the bailout than they would have under a real bankruptcy.

      We know for a fact, however, that the UAW DID make out much better under the bailout than it would have under a real bankruptcy. It made only token concessions (getting rid of the Jobs Bank – big deal!). 

      For example, when Delphi went bankrupt, GM was on the hook for the pensions and benefits of UAW members, as per an agreement it had signed with the UAW. GM itself was soon facing bankruptcy, and if it had filed under normal procedures, that agreement would have been voided. When the government bailed out GM, it broached the idea of Delphi UAW retirees making real concessions (as the white-collar Delphi retirees did). The UAW said “no way,” and the Obama Administration quickly folded. The administration used taxpayer money to make sure that the UAW made no meaningful concessions.

      Maybe you think that is a good idea – fine. The Obama Administration won the election, and it was therefore charged with shaping the bailout, and could decide the winners and losers. But please drop the fiction that, in certain key ways, this was not also a bailout of the UAW. It came out MUCH better because of this bailout than it would have in a real bankruptcy proceeding. It made no meaningful sacrifices, and came through the process unscathed.

      If you are going to argue that the bondholders should be grateful that they did better under the bailout than it would have under a real bankruptcy proceeding, then the UAW should be groveling at our knees…

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

       
      If you are going to argue that the bondholders should be grateful that they did better under the bailout than it would have under a real bankruptcy proceeding, then the UAW should be groveling at our knees…
       
      You know what? I won’t disagree with you on this.
       
      The unions did very well out of this, and I don’t think anyone on “my side” of the aisle disputes this.  They did take a risk (and indeed still have, considering that have equity at stake now) but it looks like it could pay off.
       
      The difference between the unions and the bondholders is that absolutely no one is using, nor would anyone have used Joe Unionworker to the same emotional effect as Sally Bondholder, even though Joe’s job was at stake, while Sally was more likely than not a speculator who bought bonds for pennies and was hoping the government would cave and actually ensure her earnings and then some.

      Bondholders were investors: they took a risk investing a company with long and well-known management problems, declining marketshare and negative cash flow. Either they were grossly ignorant or hoping that the government (or someone) would backstop them. As a dyed-in-the-wool pinko I have exactly zero sympathy for investors who expect their losses to be socialized. Blue-collar workers who help drive economies, sure, and I can tolerate it for the banks because it was necessary to unlock credit, but for some speculator? Really?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Psarhjinian: The difference between the unions and the bondholders is that absolutely no one is using, nor would anyone have used Joe Unionworker to the same emotional effect as Sally Bondholder, even though Joe’s job was at stake, while Sally was more likely than not a speculator who bought bonds for pennies and was hoping the government would cave and actually ensure her earnings and then some.

      Of course no one is using Joe Unionworker for the same emotional effect – he didn’t make any meaningful concessions! How can anyone use him as a poster boy for any disruption caused by the recent GM bailout, unless he or she wants to be laughed out of the room?

      If GM had gone through the traditional bankruptcy route, plenty of stories about the plight of UAW workers would have appeared. (Somehow, someway, George W. Bush would have been at fault, even though he was not in charge of GM product planning, nor did he negotiate unsustainable contracts with a stubborn union.)

      Please note, however, that the workers (whether white collar or blue), do not own GM, unless they bought stock for themselves. The get a paycheck from GM, and that is it, and receive benefits as long as the company is able to pay them. In which case, they are no different from anyone else who works for a private company. 

      Nor are all bondholders speculators. Unless pension funds, both public and private, are now classified as speculators.  

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      I believe that was the idea all along.  The real world leaders decided that America had been in charge too long and that free citizenry was getting too inconvenient.  They decided that China would be the new world power since they do not allow freedom of thought, travel, speech, reproduction, and it goes on.  With Bill Clinton signing the death nell for American manufacturing, NAFTA, then GATT, they began their plan to reduce America to second or third world status.
       
      Keep watching, it is going along with the plan.  When Reagan allowed the media to be taken over by large corporations, American lost any chance to hear the truth.  All we get now is propaganda designed to make the transition to totalitarian control in America.  The Republican party are the biggest proponents of this transition.  Look at their platform and voting records.
       
      The Supreme Court ruling that Corporations are people and can contribute any amount they choose ended one pillar of our country, one person, one vote is no longer the case.  Corporations, in effect, now have a vote.
       
      So far, they have taken over the Media and the Courts.  All this crap about Gubmint Motors is just a distraction.  Stealing pensions of retired workers is just a symptom of what is going on.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Geeber, actually pension funds are speculators now. To meet future obligations most of them must return a well above market average rate of return. That’s not a big deal though, there were lots of GM bondholders who weren’t speculators. They should have more actively managed their portfolios but they didn’t. I guess in a way that makes them speculators too because they just blindly hoped things would work out.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The mainstream media was controlled by corporations before the Reagan presidency. The main media outlets – ABC, CBS, NBC, The Washington Post/Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times – were all owned by large corporations long before the Reagan presidency. So let’s drop that fallacy.

      If anything, the mainstream media is LESS concentrated today, and has LESS influence, than it did during the 1970s and 1980s, thanks to sites such as this. The networks and publications I listed have all been losing viewers and readers for years (Newsweek recently was sold for $1!). Their influence has been declining for years, and Fox News has nowhere near the influence that, say, CBS News did in the 1960s and 1970s.

      If people are too lazy or dumb to seek out alternative voices, that is their fault, not the fault of Republicans or anyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      forraymond – let’s quit the party blame okay? Everything I’ve read says BUSH started the NAFTA push and CLINTON finished it. If NAFTA is sinking the American jobs machine (and I think NAFTA gets a big dollop of blame here) then BOTH parties get black marks over NAFTA. It is my opinion that increasingly that BOTH parties are screwing America pretty hard.

  • avatar
    kkt

    Not very happy about it.  However, in other industries companies spend lots of money on campaigns, even when the government is their main or only customer, or government regulation is the main influence on their environment.  Defense contractors lobby and contribute heavily.  Phone companies lobby and contribute heavily.  TV networks got a multitrillion dollar gift a few years ago, when the digital broadcasting spectrum was given away.  All those are among the biggest friends to political campaigns.
     

  • avatar
    jimble

    I don’t know if it’s improper but it sure is tone deaf. If GM wants to polish its public image before their IPO they need to avoid pissing people off like this.

  • avatar

    Just a point of clarification…and this is only for clarification since I’m not in a position to speak for the company on this issue…but the PAC is what gives the money. The PAC is only made up of the contributions of individuals within the company…so this is not a taxpayer money issue. Most every major company/orgainzation that is impacted by government and regulations has a PAC…whether that’s right or wrong, is up to the community to debate…

    Hope this helps.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Yep, it helps a lot. Thanks for explaining to us peasants who aren’t fortunate enough to suck off the government teat why this is a good idea. PAC contributions or whatever, it is still GM’s name on the contributions. If you can’t see why that is both a bad idea and a thumb in the eye of taxpayers then you aren’t smart enough to be employed.

      It is an insult to everyone in this country who pays taxes for any antity associated with GM to donate to politicians who caused the problem. Ethically it stinks.

      And Bubba, I hope you are saving every dime you can, cause GM will fail again and this time it won’t get bailed out. Nothing has changed there, the same old clueless idiots are still running the place. I hope you have a nice long unemployment, I wouldn’t hire you for sure. Get off the internet and get to work, I’m paying your salary and I want productivity from you.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      Absolutely correct. This is supposed to be “The Truth About Cars”, but this statement, “A government owned company using taxpayers’ money to “contribute” to politicians to help them get re-elected and the main beneficiaries are the people who saved your company with more taxpayer money”, is a lie according to the article cited.
      Even if GM were directly contributing funds, they do sell cars for a profit, so not every nickel in they have in the bank is “taxpayer money.” And at any rate, the taxpayer money is a loan that will be paid back, so the taxpayers will get their money anyway.
      Even if you consider GM to be a government agency, such agencies routinely spend money in the pursuit of funding. That issue should be dealt with across the board if it’s a problem.
      I’m not a fan of the bailout, but it’s now a fait accompli, so distorting the truth serves no purpose.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      the taxpayer money is a loan that will be paid back

      Actually, the taxpayer money was paid into GM in exchange for stock. It’s not a loan. That is why some now call GM Government Motors. The United States government owns a controlling interest in the company.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      Hey Mike,
       
      Chrylser has been bailed out before, don’t be surprised if it happen again with GM.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Tell you what Scottcom, I’ll sell you my part of what GM owes me for 50 cents on the dollar. That way when they pay it all back yo uget my part too. Step right up and take that deal, you’ve got so much confidence that it’s coming back put your money where your mouth is.

      Forraymond, it won’t happen again. GM’s incredible arrogance has poisoned that well for good. The UAW are pikers compared to management. They just can’t help themselves when they get a chance to rub our noses in it. They are special and anything they do is right. Their hubris will destroy them for good one day and I hope they all starve.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    You will never get money out of politics. Only thing to do is give lots of publicity to who is giving what to whom.

    That said, it irks me that a company with a substantial government ownership is making large contributions to specifically chosen incumbent candidates.  This would be illegal coming directly from the government, but in a blurred situation as this, it is arguably legal. 

    Once GM has its IPO, then spend your money however you want.  Until then, it is NOT your money.  This is a new twist to public election financing.  And everybody wonders why ordinary citizens are so sick of government and politicians.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    This stuff is standard operating procedure in the defense, agribusiness, and energy businesses.  Are we to be surprised to hear that manufacturing also wants to be heard by Washington?
     
    Until we get lobbyists and money out of Washington, the little guy will never be heard.  I don’t think our founding fathers intended corporations to be the proxy of the peoples’ voice in Washington.

    • 0 avatar

      Money is like electricity and/or water: it will flow to fill the form of its container. You can’t stop it, and if you think you’ve done so, it’ll just find another way around and surprise you. You need to change the shape or size of the container, not try to invalidate the laws of reality.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      Corporations used to have legally limited life spans.  Our Founding Fathers knew the corrupting power of money.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Even if the lifespans of corporations were limited by statute, do you really believe it would make any difference?

      The federal government wouldn’t let GM and Chrysler face bankruptcy…do you really believe it would force them to dissolve because the statute’s time limits had ended, especially if they have been profitable and increasing employment?

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Because, and only because, this is a government owned entity, this is outrageous. Fifty years ago, Eisenhower warned of a military-industrial complex. We have had that for a long time and now we are generalizing it. The best we can hope for is transparency in finding out who is buying whom. Who was it who put his campaign contributions on the internet? Oh, yeah. G. W. Bush.
    Cammy, will you pop a blood vessel when Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs gets your pay, deducts what they feel like deducting and then forwards your allowance to your bank account?
    So many scoundrels, so little tar and feathers……

    edit

    Until we get lobbyists and money out of Washington, the little guy will never be heard. I don’t think our founding fathers intended corporations to be the proxy of the peoples’ voice in Washington. I don’t think they intended union leaders to be the people’s voice either. They appear to be as unaccountable to their rank and file as CEO’s are to their small stockholders. Then there are the various 501c3’s and other organizations funded by the likes of George Soros (like move_along_you_peasants.org) and now counter-weighted by emerging ones on the right.

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    Really guys?
    Really?
    Stick to cars people.
    http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/com_supopp/2009_C00076810
    “OH NO GOVERNMENT MOTORS IS GIVING TO DEMOCRATS (and republicans) USING TAXPAYER MONEY (or maybe employees felt like ticking off the checkbox on the PAC form that floats around every year and then management looked around at candidates who would act in GM’s best interest )”
     
    You find it troubling that a company would exercise its right to lobby government or are you troubled that some misleading article tells you that democrats are getting donations from GM?
     
    Would this article be here the source article stated that both Democrats AND Republicans were on the list?
     
    I doubt it

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      “Would this article be here the source article stated that both Democrats AND Republicans were on the list?”
      If you mean the WSJ article, then it DID state that Republicans got a slice, too. It was clearly mentioned in my article:
       
      “but as the WSJ said “…the House Republican Whip, who would likely assume a top leadership post if Republicans win control of the House in November.” It is good practice to hedge one’s bets.”

      “You find it troubling that a company would exercise its right to lobby government or are you troubled that some misleading article tells you that democrats are getting donations from GM?”

      No, but I find it troubling and confusing that GM is getting involved in politics when they’re doing everything possible to distance themselves from politics ahead of the IPO. I did state quite clearly in my article that this was a self imposed ban which GM lifted from themselves. So they were fully conscious of the decision.

  • avatar
    Disaster

    It is wrong that corporations, get treated like individuals, and can contribute cash.  Now government agencies can too!  I can see the EPA contributing to the campaign of congressmen that will increase their budget.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    To quote Winston Churchill, “Democracy is the worst system in the world, next to all the others.”

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t subscribe to those words as much as I used to. As the Romans showed us and America is now living firsthand, democracy also breeds complacency, sloth and willful stupidity.

      Look around at our fellow Americans. It doesn’t take much to realize our system has managed to breed an entire culture of ignorant, undereducated, essentially worthless people.

      And what’s worse is, there are fewer and fewer penalties for their behavior:

      Don’t have a job? Go on welfare. Can’t find a job you’re willing to work at? Stay on welfare.

      Don’t have the skills and desire to do your best at your job, or the desire to find another one? Join the union, they’ll protect you!

      Can’t survive in a harsh economic environment that most everyone saw coming? That’s OK, we’ll bail you out!

      Government Motors is certainly not the most egregious example of this mindset, but it is one that right-thinking people can at least do something about. Don’t buy their products. Encourage your friends and neighbors to stay away from GM. Shun those who are ignorant enough to buy a GM vehicle.

      Maybe we’ll all eventually learn to stop rewarding failure.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Receiving much less attention but where the real influence comes into play is when politicians or bureaucrats leave office of government employment and go to work for corporations, special-interest groups etc and/or enter the speaking circuit.
    All legal. No promises need be made to or by anybody.  It is simply how the game is played.
    Ronald Regan set the record for the $2,000,000 received for ONE speech.
    “Vote the bums out!!!!!”  Yeah, a BIG punishment, there. Propelling the politico to their REAL rewards even sooner.
    Multiple memberships on corporate boards. I believe ex-prez Gerald Ford set the record for corporate board memberships.
    A typical yearly payment of 1/4-million bucks for showing up once yearly for the stock holder’s meeting, be wined, dined, stay in the finest hotel at corporate expense and show up for the finest food and possibly say a few words and allowing that corporation to boast of having an ex-prez on their corporate board!!!
    Repeat, wash hands.
    It is no surprise that after Eisenhower the norm is for an ex prez to become a multi-millionaire via the monied elites and corporate America.
    Just don’t upset the status quo while in office.
    Lesser “deities” such as Congress critters may make more or less but the rewards ARE there. Even for friends and family of the politicos and bureaucrats.
    Clinton’s kid started at $100,000 yearly with assuredly a full benefit package. Not bad for possessing a history degree.
    The REAL influence over government is from what happens after the thieves and cons and assorted vermin depart office or government employment.
    I believe logic AND the lack of mass media coverage about THIS aspect of the “game” of how the few influence the status quo that harms so many commoners, that allows the continued skim of the masses by the wealthy elite few and corporate USA and the MANY barriers embedded within the various “systems” in the USA to curtail competition and continue the concentration of wealth and power until the lusted-for oligarchy occurs and blah blah blah but nothing will change.
    And the masses continue milling aimlessly, mindlessly as ever-more of the herd rely upon dumpsters and cardboard boxes for dwelling.
    Plan ahead, kids. Own a van or other suitable vehicle so at least some sort of shelter is available if the worst happens to you.
     

  • avatar
    segfault

    Phase 1:  The government donates money to GM.
    Phase 2:  GM donates money to the government.
    Phase 3:  Profit!

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I’ll side with No. 1 – Shoulder shrug, since I do not want a company that needs to succeed in order to pay back the government be at a political disadvantages to everyone else in the industry.

  • avatar
    nonce

    Time to pay your protection money, bitches!

  • avatar
    TomH

    To the extent that you see the auto bailout as money laundering to the UAW, then spreading the love to political contributions should not come as a surprise.

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    Hey lets also be outraged at the fact that EMPLOYEES at GOVERNMENT  MOTORS are allowed to VOTE.
    Bad enough that a company (aka corporation aka legal entity trying to make a buck aka bunch of individuals contractually bound together to do some building crap)  is donating to politicians but ‘gasp’ the employees of that company can also vote for those same politicians!!!!
    SCANDAL!!!!!
    While the US and Canadian governments own shares in the company, all GM employees should lose the right to vote. They should also be denied access to the eletrical grid and should not be allowed to take federal holidays.
     

    (I better state ahead of time that this is called “sarcasm” since there is a good chance some will take this seriously and blog about it on the intertubez)
     

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      I think that anyone receiving government money except people in the military ought not be allowed to vote. That includes GM employees too, their rights are gone when the government takes them over.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      MikeAR,
      That is probably the most ignorant thing that I have ever read.  Working for particular employer shouldn’t take away any of your rights as a US citizen.  Why not take away their rights to free speech as well?
       
      Also, you probably don’t understand how many different organizations take money from the gov’t for research, grants, tax breaks, etc.  By your methodology, no one would working for a car company would be allowed to vote because they have all taken a form of gov’t money at some level of gov’t.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      “I think that anyone receiving government money except people in the military ought not be allowed to vote.”
      Damn right.  And that includes those of you who get Social Security, a tax credit, or a mortgage deduction.  “Please escort Grandma away from the voting booth, please…..”

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Ignorant in what way? If you are Federal employee or on welfare you will vote in your self-interest. You vote for the party or the candidate who is most aligned with your interests for tax increases leading to more money for you. So tell me again just how ignorant is not wanting mooches to have the right to vote. And for the record I didn’t say anything about companies taking government money for goods or services. My problem is with companies controlled wholly by the government giving bribe money. And it is bribe money too.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      Mike AR “If you are Federal employee or on welfare you will vote in your self-interest. You vote for the party or the candidate who is most aligned with your interests for tax increases leading to more money for you. So tell me again just how ignorant is not wanting mooches to have the right to vote.”

      …..and will you vote in the interest of everyone but yourself?  I am not a government employee or on welfare, yet I vote for the person most aligned with my interests.  Shame on me!

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      MikeAR
      IIRC, General of the Army George C. Marshall so firmly believed in avoiding the inherent conflict of interest that he did not vote while in uniform. But then, you could search the planet and not find many with a similar sense of personal honor and integrity.
      Not voting based on conflict of interest is simply unworkable. Its a big reason why government should be smaller and less intrusive – paraphrasing what has been said by Ben Franklin and others, you can keep a democracy until a majority figure out that they can vote themselves favors from the public treasury.

    • 0 avatar

      Voting rights cannot or should not be taken away carte blanche… though I do believe we need to curtail the voting rights of some of our lesser citizens. I don’t pretend to know where that line should be drawn, though an IQ or basic knowledge test would probably be good places to start.

      And don’t whine to me about segregation or Jim Crow laws. Stupidity knows no race or creed.

      We do need to get a handle on how much power our more ignorant citizens have in dictating the direction of our country. All sides involved have taken far too much advantage of our system as it stands. Voting should be a privilege, something you must work towards in order to earn it.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      MikeAR,
      You still don’t understand what I am saying.  Toyota got a big tax break and money from the gov’t to build a plant in San Antonio.  Hyundai has done the same with their plants, so has Honda, GM, Ford, … everyone of them.  Should none of the employees that work there not be allowed to vote?  They are NOT providing a good or service to the gov’t.
      But, I guess teachers shouldn’t vote.  Neither should firefighters or policemen.  Those are all gov’t jobs.
      Gov’t funded research does not become the property of the gov’t.  So, they are taking money to do something, but not really providing anything directly to the gov’t in return.
       
      Now what I really don’t understand is your comment about them voting for their interest.  Everyone that I know does that.  Should I vote for someone else’s interest?  No, how about they vote for that interest.
       
      Any legal profession should not take away from anyone’s legal rights or privileges as a citizen.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      And don’t whine to me about segregation or Jim Crow laws. Stupidity knows no race or creed.

      While I’m sorely tempted to support it, you can’t disenfranchise the stupid because you’d be disenfranchising the poor as well.  You’d certainly be allowing the smart (who are usually wealthier) to vote themselves all sorts of entitlements on the backs of the stupid and/or poor.

      The question is this: what’s worse, allowing the stupid to vote, knowing that they’re easily hoodwinked by base populism, or not doing so?  I suspect, knowing that smart people aren’t by default progressive, altruistic or even particularly nice, that the latter would be much worse.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Stephen, police and firefighters should not have a vote, they are unionized and vote for the candidates who will give them the most money. As far as the part about not understanding, you don’t seen to be capable of understanding my point, Toyota is a private company, GM is not a private company. Look who owns them. They have no right to spend a dime on politics. Are you not capable of understanding the concept of ownership? Is that beyond you?

      And just what do you mean by “GM hasa the right to be run like any successful corporation”? They are not successful so they have no rights. Get over the idea that GM will ever be viable again and quit defending them. Another thing, voting is a priviledge, not a right, too many people are eligible to vote, make them take a citizenship test, a literacy test and pay a poll tax before they vote. But I think I get your problem with that, you couldn’t vote if there was any test of ability to decide what was best for the country.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      police and firefighters should not have a vote, they are unionized and vote for the candidates who will give them the most money

      By the logic, so should anyone who works for or is associated with any reasonably-sized entity (union, corporation, professional college—doesn’t matter), since the corporation can and does do the same.

    • 0 avatar

      “While I’m sorely tempted to support it, you can’t disenfranchise the stupid because you’d be disenfranchising the poor as well.  You’d certainly be allowing the smart (who are usually wealthier) to vote themselves all sorts of entitlements on the backs of the stupid and/or poor.”

      That may have been true 30 years ago… but it’s easier than ever today to gain knowledge, if you want to. Libraries have free internet access (and I hear they let you borrow books for free, too!) Television is everywhere. Newspapers are left on coffee shop counters for anyone to grab.

      If you want to learn, you will find a way. If you don’t want to learn, then I don’t give a damn what you think, nor do I believe you should have any power whatsoever to influence important decisions. Better that you return to watching Oprah and “Jersey Shore” and leave the rest of us be.

      Anyway, back to cars. Government Motors sucks. There, I feel better.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      MikeAR,
      Personal attacks on the internet are great because they are anonymous.  But you don’t know me.  You don’t know my education level.  You don’t know how much money I make.  You don’t know anything, about me.  But please assume I am lowly unemployed high school drop out.  After all, that is what the internet is all about.
      I also completely disagree on the right to vote.  Citizenship gives you that right.  You are free to vote for ANY reason you see fit.  The only reason it should be taken away is a felony conviction.  No other reason at all.
      But, back to the actual subject at hand.  Toyota is NOT a private company.  Privately held companies are not sold on the stock market.  You are correct that GM is owned buy the gov’t, but that is about the only thing you are correct about.  There are legislative matters that effect GM.  GM wants to have a say in them.  They are allowed to donate money for them.  Employees working for the gov’t are allowed to donate money to campaigns as well.  There isn’t a difference.
      Also, you have changed your definition from your original post.  First it was anything that takes gov’t money.  Why is taking gov’t money different to you when it involves Toyota then to a fireman?  Toyota can give money to campaigns to get people in office who will give them tax breaks or tax credits.  That is ok with you?
      GM is currently viable.  They are turning a profit.  Maybe you should get over the fact that GM hasn’t gone away.  Will they be around for another 20 years?  I don’t know.  I would assume so given their balance sheet.  Opel is the biggest headache right now, but it isn’t that big a deal in a market that has basically zero growth potential.
      Yes the bailout happened.  Yes, it pissed off many people.  But, GM is going to be around because people are stilling buying their cars.  Now, in order for GM to stay viable, they need to start acting like a successful company.  Limiting their actions because they are gov’t owned is not going to be a successful start for GM.  Imposing such limitations will lead to failure.
       
      But again, I really posted here because what you are saying is ridiculous.  Charging people to vote… WOW!!!  Why not make the charge a million per candidate.  I am sure that will clear out all those people who are all too stupid to vote.
       
      Honestly, your examples are more like Jim Crow laws than anything I have ever heard.  Sorry, you don’t have an IQ off 110 and you don’t make 100k or more.  You shouldn’t have the right to vote.  Seriously, read what you are saying.  It is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    phantomwolf

    Okay, here are my two cents.  Being the complete abject opposite of a left leaning pinko, I also have ZERO sympathy for the bond holding investors.  They took a risk, and lost.  Period.  However, let the money flow into our political systems as much as everyone wants, just have disclosure.  i.e. BP can spend gazillions of dollars, but if US taxpayers know about it, and to who, would they allow  those politicians to get elected.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Why is anyone surprised that new GM is trying to act like any other corporation?  Every large corporation gives money to politicians.  This is a none story.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    The last couple of years have been uncharted waters in a storm. Decisions, some bad, some good, were made to keep the economy from implosion while quickening the recovery. GM has been beaten a lot for taking money, but, (trying to make the best of it), at least they build things, employing many that spend income and pay taxes. Citibank et al  took a lot ‘o cash, and that benefit went to “stabilize” and provide bonuses…..
    Then we have the Boeing/Airbus situation…
    It seems to all be perception and degrees, tipping points will always be open for discussion.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Meh…it’s really not worth wasting the internet space on the story.
     
    If GM gives THEIR money to the right people (remember, they repaid all of the loans), then those people will give GM a better chance to make serious profits.  The current batch of hacks in congress, the senate and the white house only want to see these big firms fail.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      What would it take for you to realize that they haven’t paid all the money back. They have not paid back any of the money given to them for equity, Until there is no government ownership and the taxpayers have been made whole they haven’t paid the money back. Understand that, admit it, the truth shall set you free.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      GM did not pay back all of the money it received during the bailout. It did return part of the government money it did not use…but was not the entire amount it received from either the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      MikeAR and geeber,
      GM has to be able to run like any other successful corporation, which btw, gives money to PACs.  Saying GM can’t do X or Y because it is still gov’t owned is not the way for GM to run its business.  The amount of people who say they don’t approve of something GM is doing because of gov’t ownership is ridiculous.  If GM had to get everyone’s approval before it did something, nothing would happen and we would have old GM again.  GM received a gov’t bailout.  GM is still gov’t owned.  The avg citizen’s say in GM is zilch, nada, nothing.  That won’t change.  If you are unhappy with why it happened, vote against the people who made it happen if this single issue is the most important thing to you.  But please, drop the whole line about gov’t ownership should effect how the company is run.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Steven02,

      Please go back read my first post on this thread. I specifically noted that what GM is doing is not unusual among the business community, and that these donations are not a payback for the bailout. Nowhere have I said that GM should be banned from making these contributions because it is a publicly owned corporation. 

      I specifically addressed two arguments – that the bondholders made out better with a bailout than they would have under a regular bankruptcy, and whether GM paid back all of the government money it received.  

      1. The UAW came out far better as a result of this bailout than it would have if GM and Chrysler had undergone the regular bankruptcy process. Saying that the bondholders made out better with the bailout process than they would have with a standard bankruptcy, while ignoring that the UAW made out A LOT better, is more than a little disingenuous.

      2. GM did NOT pay back all of the government money it received. It gave back a portion of the money it did not use.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      geeber,
      Sorry about that.  I misread what you wrote.
       
      On your 2 points.  GM did go through regular bankruptcy.  Most of the bondholders were unsecured bondholders.  This means that under bankruptcy, they could have received ZERO money.  The fact that they received anything is amazing.  With the UAW fairing better, you are correct.  They absolutely did.  But it was a real bankruptcy.  I don’t necessarily agree that the UAW should have done better, but that is what happened.
       
      On the second point, you are absolutely correct.  It gave back a portion that it received that it didn’t use.  It used the money to back pack the remaining “loan” that it received as part of the bankruptcy.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    What do people excpect from thieving political pychopaths and their retarded and/or parasitic supporters….People who support this are no better that murderers and rapists.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      We’re about one step from invoking Godwin’s Law.
      If the comments above in aggregate are an indication of the feelings of those who will vote in the US Nov elections, it will be an interesting old time. But it’s not at all clear that when we toss their scoundrels out that our scoundrels will understand that it can’t be business as usual, just with different goals.

  • avatar
    dagwood

    Of course!  How did you think they are going to get bailed out after they fail again?  BAILOUTS JUST DON’T GROW ON TREES, YOU KNOW!

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Does this piss me off.  Absolutely.  Is this so UNUSUAL to go shame shame against any single enterprise?  Absolutely not.
     
    This isn’t an issue of how many wrongs make a right or a sudden realization from TTAC that the buck stops here because oh my God, GM is doing it too!
     
    The tobacco industry is one of the biggest contributors to campaigns and has gotten huge subsidies for decades.  Defense companies may be “privately” held but are practically the government, and get hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars a year and donate huge sums of money to campaigns.  Wall Street banks?  Chrysler corp?  Never mind the foreign companies that donate millions upon millions to US political campaigns (hello, should the likes of Toyota, or Cherry, or Airbus be donating to US political campaigns???) that have a material impact on the citizens of this country; who have a diminishing say in their own fate as each year goes by.
     
    The whole situation makes me want to stroke out; but to single out one company or another to then not take a big look around on how broken the whole system is – it is just wrong.  Singling out a single wrong of a huge list of transgressions does not make a story; the big story is this is a huge problem that permeates every aspect of business and campaigns and shouldn’t be allowed at all top to bottom.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      If singling out one particular company or industry is a bad thing, then I would suggest we do the same with tobacco. Tobacco farmers have received agriculture subsidies, just as farmers raising corn and other crops do. The concern here is agriculture subsidies in general, not just tobacco subsidies.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      @geeber:
       
      I would love to get millions in government money to NOT work.  I see no difference in a farmer receiving subsidies to NOT plant to keep prices artificially high on certain commodities outside of tobacco.  Farm subsidies were created to aid farmers against market swings and severe weather outbreaks.  The intent is so far from the reality now so I agree – do away with the darn things.  Why should farmer Fred get paid to not plant and then take MY dollars to donate to his senator to get him re-elected so he can get more money to NOT plant.  I’m as mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!!!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    The recipe for stopping this is simple:  make all elections publicly financed and make illegal any funding outside of government (if private money is caught being spent, mandatory jail time should help dissuade that behavior for both parties).  This will do a few things simultaneously:
    1)  Allow the non-incumbent, non-rich and the non-famous to run for office and have a legitimate shot at winning.
    2)  Since public funding will be much less than what is spent now privately, interested citizens will need to do more to be informed.
    3)  Eliminating soft money will help free up those that win from undue influence – those caught giving would also be subject to prison terms.
    4)  More of the people’s business would be done, as fundraising would no longer be a necessary endeavor.
     
    There, problem solved!

    • 0 avatar
      LALoser

      That would be a good system JK, but the indepenent movements would still buy airtime, print ads and so on to promote, or rather cast doubt on the other team…usually taking statements, pics out of context. They can not be stopped because of the freedom of speech issue.
      The biggest problem is lobbyists, maybe they should be curtailed to meeting on the House/Senate floor during regular hours so all could hear and record statements.
      BTW, is $90,500.00 what we are talking about? Sounds like donations to get the politicians to go away…….

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      jkross22 – excellent system you suggest and very-very important to our future as a healthy democracy.
      I can only imagine the screaming accusations of “socialism” from the conservative media blowhards! Just wish somebody would make as big a deal about those folks lying and telling half-truths, and taking things out of context as the blowhards do about wildly throwing the term socialists around.
      I like honest debate. That’s important. I don’t like all the screaming blowhards trying to drown out thoughtful and intelligent conversation and debate.
      And I don’t listen to those stations anymore or read those websites. Used to try to get both sides of a debate but those certainly aren’t viable sources of information.

  • avatar
    mythicalprogrammer

    I’m confused as to why this is just a democrat issue when the bailout was initiated by Bush and then Obama supported it. The bail out was a bi partisan effort and somehow the conservatives conveniently forget about Bush. WSJ is own by Murdoch, the dude that own Fox News which have edited tapes of Obama many times to implied somehow Obama is going to raise taxes for everyone, not just the top 2%. This is the same people that cut off Obama’s bi partisan healthcare summit debate cause he was owning them. If you disagree that Obama was owning them, you should ask McCain if his ego was hurting after that meeting.

    Bailout was a bipartisan effort that is widely seen as a democrat effort for some reason. Heck, I remembered the democrats delay the auto bailout until the Big 3 present some sort of business plan. They, the big 3, worked their butt off to get that bailout compare to the big banks.

    The only reason why GM and other corporations can do this is because of Bush newly appointed supreme court judge, John Robert. So if the conservatives are crying about this I pity them as short sighted and fools. You reap what you sowed and all of us get caught with the crap that hit the fan. So it should be the democrats that should be complaining.

  • avatar
    Banger

    It is good practice to hedge one’s bets.
    Since when does GM, the very same GM that went bankrupt by betting the farm on gas-guzzling trucks, SUVs and low fuel prices, know anything about hedging bets?

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    Thats it! I blame Bush and Fox News? Hell yea!

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