General Motors sucked up a lot of state and federal taxpayer dollars because of lobbyists who promised big returns on the governments’ investments — most importantly, saving jobs.
But as we found out Monday, those promises could only go so far.
Tennessee will do OK.
As The Tennessean reported, General Motors will add a third vehicle to its production lineup at its Spring Hill plant next year.
But as CNBC and countless other news outlets reported Monday, GM will stop production at several plants in the United States and Canada next year. Company officials also announced they will cut more than 14,000 jobs in a massive restructuring that will cost up to $3.8 billion.
U.S. President Donald Trump was none too pleased upon hearing the news.
“You know, the United States saved General Motors,” Trump told reporters Monday.
As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2013, GM accepted a $50 billion federal bailout in 2009. According to Reuters, the U.S. government lost $11.2 billion on the bailout, more than the $10.3 billion the U.S. Treasury Department estimated it would.
As Tennessee Watchdog reported, GM aggressively lobbied states, including Tennessee, for taxpayer dollars.
At the time, GM spokesman Greg Martin defended the practice.
“The company does it because that is the company’s First Amendment right, and it is the same right that other manufacturers enjoy,” Martin told the publication.
One year prior to that, in 2012, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced state taxpayers would pay GM more than $1 million to help the company expand its production plant in Spring Hill.
The announcement came after GM began to double the amount of money it paid two lobbyists, Eric Henning and Jim Spears, to work with Tennessee officials.
Meanwhile, documents obtained showed GM officials were also active at the time with lobbying expenditures in other states. Those efforts paid off in Maryland, Michigan, Kentucky, Texas, Indiana, and Ohio.
$35 Billion in Cash Reserves
As reported, GM lobbied for that taxpayer money despite having $35 billion in cash reserves and enough sway to build 14 production facilities in China.
Edward Niedermeyer, the author of a 2013 Wall Street Journal piece criticizing GM, told Tennessee Watchdog the company has “Shanghaied” American taxpayers.
“This attitude is a consistent pattern with GM. They just see public money as something that they are entitled to. They suck up as much of it as they can and show no sense of regret or obligation or anything in return for it,” Niedermeyer said.
“It’s not even about taxpayers having just a little bit of self-respect. It’s like the wife being abused by her husband. You’ve got to have a little self-respect, otherwise these companies will just fleece, fleece and fleece and there will eventually be nothing left. The line has to be drawn somewhere.”
In addition to the $1 million ECD grant, GM lobbied for and received a $17 million job-training grant from the same agency in 2009.
As reported, state officials expected the grant money would help GM train thousands of Tennessee residents for long-term jobs in Spring Hill. Despite the taxpayer-funded grant, GM relocated those jobs to a plant in Michigan.
Tennessee and all other state governments, Niedermeyer said at the time, should have pondered the wisdom of giving GM this money.
“Is GM a patriotic company that helped fight World War II and is committed to American greatness?” Niedermeyer asked.
“Or is it a company that is built around sucking up as much public money as possible?”
Photo “Mary Barra” by Mary Barra’s Facebook page.