By Ralph Nader
Dear Mr. Bloom:
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which includes General Motors and Chrysler as major members, has an extensive advertising campaign (see WTOP locally) opposing your Administration’s proposals for fuel economy standards going out to 2025. There is nothing unusual about the auto industry’s self-immolating position.
Over the years stubborn U.S. auto executives have foolishly lost market share to the foreign competitors. What is unusual is that the Obama administration–viz the Department of Treasury–owns just under 30 percent of the GM stock and not long ago owned over 60 percent of the shares. The government obtained these shares in return for saving the company through a structured (some would say rigged) form of bankruptcy and rebirth with much cash from this deal still in GM’s coffers and an abundant tax credit reaching several years into the future.
Why is the government, as a major GM owner, allowing this company to oppose the Administrations’ policy proposal?
You have been delegated unilateral, virtually dictatorial power, to continue finishing the deal with GM which, among other aspects, includes deciding when to sell the depressed GM shares. The low price of GM stock has the Obama Administration in a bind. On the one hand it wants to get out of owning GM; on the other hand it has a fiduciary relationship with taxpayers to get top dollar and not incur a loss in the many billions of dollars from the bailout.
These decisions should not be conceived in secret with GM or implemented suddenly without public input. Are you opposed to a Congressional hearing on this subject? Are you opposed to a press debriefing with both the media and with interested citizen groups? Or do you and your superiors think (other than exchanging thoughts with GM executives) you know best how to make a unilateral and unappealable decision on behalf of taxpayers?