You probably remember when GM made the big announcement that it had paid off its loans from the bailout? You most likely also remember that subsequent investigation found that GM was simply using borrowed money from a government extended line of credit to “pay back” part of what was loaned under the bailout? In other words it took taxpayer money extended under the LOC and gave it to the government as a payment of “debt”. Overall, though, it’s debt remained the same.
This week Chrysler went through the same sort of shenanigans as Conn Carroll reports:
American taxpayers have already spent more than $13 billion bailing out Chrysler. The Obama administration already forgave more than $4 billion of that debt when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Taxpayers are never getting that money back. But how is Chrysler now paying off the rest of the $7.6 billion they owe the Treasury Department?
The Obama administration’s bailout agreement with Fiat gave the Italian car company a “Incremental Call Option” that allows it to buy up to 16% of Chrysler stock at a reduced price. But in order to exercise the option, Fiat had to first pay back at least $3.5 billion of its loan to the Treasury Department. But Fiat was having trouble getting private banks to lend it the money. Enter Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu who has signaled that he will approve a fuel-efficient vehicle loan to Chrysler for … wait for it … $3.5 billion.
This is simply more smoke and mirrors from the “Smoke and Mirrors” administration, now engaged in pre-election image burnishing. In fact, the payback (someone call Debbie Wasserman Shultz) involves allowing a foreign auto company to take more control of Chrysler and then tossing a loan for 3.5 billion from government on top of the Fiat purchase of Chrysler stock at a reduced price.
They want you to believe this signals a stronger and profitable Chrysler. In fact, it is a pathetic attempt to fool the public.
But it is even worse than that:
So, to recap, the Obama Energy Department is loaning a foreign car company $3.5 billion so that it can pay the Treasury Department $7.6 billion even though American taxpayers spent $13 billion to save an American car company that is currently only worth $5 billion.
Oh, and Obama plans to make this “success” a centerpiece of his 2012 campaign.
Again, don’t forget the $4 billion in loans the Obama administration has “forgiven” that taxpayers will never get back – all in an effort to make this truly horrendous deal for taxpayers seem better than it is so he can claim credit for “saving the US auto industry” during the coming political re-election campaign.
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So, the deal was supposed to work like this: The government takes over Chrysler, then sells a big chunk of it to Fiat. In return, Chrysler would give us all these cool, American-made electric cars that would turn the planet sparkly, and make the unicorns smile.
If you’re tooling around in a Chrysler electric vehicle in a few years, you’ll still be driving an American car.
While some other companies are looking to foreign battery suppliers, Chrysler said Monday that it’s going to stay all-American. It announced it is choosing A123 Systems, a Massachusetts company, as its battery supplier. A123 will make the battery packs for Chrysler’s wave of electric vehicles at a new plant in Michigan. The first will hit the streets in 2010, says Lou Rhodes, vice president of advanced vehicle engineering for Chrysler. With Monday’s announcement, Chrysler is “that much closer” to getting its vehicle on the road.
Of course, the news that it could generate more American jobs could play well in Washington, D.C., where Chrysler is under the gun from the Obama administration to close its deal with Italy’s Fiat and take other drastic steps if it wants up to $6 billion in additional government loans.
How’s that working out for us?
Chrysler has disbanded the engineering team that was trying to bring three electric models to market as a rush job, Automotive News reports today. Chrysler cited its devotion to electric vehicles as one of the key reasons why the Obama administration and Congress needed to give it $12.5 billion in bailout money, the News points out.
The change of heart on electric vehicles has come under Fiat. At a marathon presentation of Chrysler’s five-year strategy, CEO Sergio Marchionne talked about just about everything on Chrysler’s plate last week except its earlier electric-car plans. With the group’s disbanding, Chrysler’s electric plans will be melded into Fiat’s. Marchionne is apparently no fan of electric power:
He says electrics will only make up 1% or 2% of Fiat sales by 2014 and that he doesn’t put a lot of faith in the technology until battery developments are pushed forward.
Now, the unicorns are crying. And considering the money we shelled out, we should be, too.
Will someone please buy these people a subscription to Google or something? In trying to compare TANF and TARP spending, Nancy Folbre makes a rather glaringly error:
Robert Rector and Katharine Bradley of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization, estimate that federal welfare spending amounted to $491 billion in fiscal 2008. (They don’t explain what specific programs they included in this estimate, and I’ll try to unpack it in a future post.) Even their extremely high estimate remains far below estimates of the total of $2.5 trillion spent on financial bailouts this year. The libertarian Cato Institute often emphasizes the issue of corporate welfare, but it’s remained remarkably quiet so far on the topic of bailouts.
David Boaz begs to differ:
Since she linked to one of our papers on corporate welfare, we assume she’s visited our site. How, then, could she get such an impression? Cato scholars have been deploring bailouts since last September. (Actually, since the Chrysler bailout of 1979, but we’ll skip forward to the recent avalanche of Bush-Obama bailouts.) Just recently, for instance, in — ahem — the New York Times, senior fellow William Poole implored, “Stop the Bailouts.” I wonder if our commentaries started with my blog post “Bailout Nation?” last September 8? Or maybe with Thomas Humphrey and Richard Timberlake’s “The Imperial Fed,” deploring the Federal Reserve’s help for Bear Stearns, on April 14 of last year?
Boaz goes onto reproduce a video compilation of Cato scholars denouncing bailouts on “more than 90 radio and television programs.” He also produces an impressive list of papers, articles and media appearances which seriously challenge Folbre’s notion of “remarkably quiet.”
Folbre doubles down here:
You’re right. The Cato Institute website has not been silent. It just didn’t meet my expectations of adequate noise.
Yeah. Too bad her post didn’t meet reality’s expectations for factual.