Yet it gets even worse. Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the $787 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), reported to Congress that the forced closure of auto dealers was both unnecessary and politically motivated. “Treasury made a series of decisions that may have substantially contributed to the accelerated shuttering of thousands of small businesses and thereby potentially adding tens of thousands of workers to the already lengthy unemployment rolls,” Barofsky wrote, further emphasizing that ”dealerships were retained because they were recently appointed, were key wholesale parts dealers or were minority- or woman-owned dealerships.”
And then there’s GM’s inherent design flaws. The highest sales volume in a vehicle class is for “D-Segment” cars, which are mid-sized, mid-priced, family sedans, that accounted for 14.7 percent of the total U.S. vehicle market in 2011, and 21.3 percent during the first 7 months of 2012. GM’s D-Segment car is the Chevy Malibu, and it must compete for sales with cars such as the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and the Volkswagen Passat. Forbes columnist Louis Woodhill reveals that, due to the speed of auto technology, “the best vehicle in a given segment is usually just the newest design in that segment” and that a newly-designed vehicle had better be superior to its older competitors or the company “will spend the next five years (the usual time between major redesigns in this segment) losing market share and/or offering costly ‘incentives’ to ‘move the metal.’” To make a long story short, the 2013 Malibu is not only inferior to its competitors, it’s not even as good as the 2012 Malibu.
In June, GM CEO Dan Akerson weighed in with an administration-like solution for GM’s sales woes. In an interview published in the Detroit News, Akerson talked about enacting a $1-per-gallon increase in the gas tax on top of the current federal gas tax in order to “encourage” buyers to opt for smaller, more fuel efficient cars. That’s not encouragement. That’s blackmail.
During that same speech in Colorado the president also insisted that “I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China, I want those jobs taking root in places like Pueblo.” Yet as political consultant Karl Rove has revealed, GM employed roughly 252,000 workers in 2008. The “new” GM currently employs 45,000 fewer workers–131,000 of whom are currently “outsourced” in foreign plants.
As noted in the opening paragraph, the president sees GM as a template for every industry in America. Human Events’s John Hayward illuminates exactly what that means. “Taxpayers were compelled to rescue the company from bankruptcy, then they were compelled to buy its products, and Obama tells them it’s all a smashing ‘success’ that should be duplicated throughout the private sector,” Hayward writes, “Taken literally, as the President prefers his words not to be taken, this would mean the end of the private sector.”
Hayward may be too generous in his assessment. In this particular case, it is quite likely president is saying exactly where he intends to take America in the next four years should he be re-elected.
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