Why the Big Three need to die, too


With people like this in charge, would YOU trust a Detroit motor company for your livelihood or that of anyone you know?

Top recipients of federal bailout money spent more than $10 million on political lobbying in the first three months of this year, including aggressive efforts aimed at blocking executive pay limits and tougher financial regulations, according to newly filed disclosure records.

The biggest spenders among major firms in the group included General Motors, which spent nearly $1 million a month on lobbying, and Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, which together spent more than $2.5 million in their efforts to sway lawmakers and Obama administration officials on a wide range of financial issues. In all, major bailout recipients have spent more than $22 million on lobbying in the six months since the government began doling out rescue funds, Senate disclosure records show.

On the one hand, they came in corporate jets to beg for bailouts; on the other, they “somehow” found the money to spend more than $22 million on lobbying. For what, I wonder–more public money with even fewer conditions attached? Probably-obably!

This part is lovely, too:

Administration officials said this week that top officials at Chrysler Financial turned away a $750 million government loan in favor of pricier private financing because executives didn’t want to abide by new federal limits on pay.

“pricier private financing because executives didn’t want to abide by new federal limits on pay.”

Gee, I guess they must not have NEEDED bailing out after all! If they can afford private financing but don’t want to cap their own executive salaries, they must in fact have gobs of cash that they simply don’t want to spend on workers, or for that matter, designing and building better cars like those energy-efficient Japanese automakers (whom the Big Three are always whining about) do. (Let’s also not forget Chrysler’s bullying up here, in which it threatened to shut down and move out if the unions weren’t busted. Memo to the CAW: Don’t give them any concessions at all. They can afford to give YOU concessions. Don’t back down!)

So…why are they spending this lobbying cash that they supposedly don’t have, but in fact do? Well…

The reports revived objections from advocacy groups and some lawmakers, who say firms should not be lobbying against stricter oversight at the same time they are receiving billions from the government through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP.

OH! Now I get it. They have all that money so they can lobby against stricter oversight. Translation: Execs even richer and less accountable, while workers struggling to pay off their subprime mortgages and loans get kicked to the curb, and car buyers also get gouged. With less oversight, that shit becomes a whole lot more commonplace (see Enron.)

But maybe I’m being too harsh on the Big Three? I dunno…let’s let them talk:

But several company representatives said yesterday that none of the money borrowed from the government has been used to fund lobbying activities — though there is no mechanism to verify that. Financial firms have successfully quashed proposed legislation that would explicitly ban the use of TARP money for lobbying or campaign contributions.

No mechanism to verify that they didn’t use the bailout cash to fund lobbying activities? Gee, why should we believe what they say about anything, then? Especially things like this?

GM spokesman Greg Martin said that maintaining a lobbying presence is vital to ensure that the automaker has a say when major policy decisions are made. “We are part of what is arguably one of the most regulated industries, and we provide a voice in very complicated policy debates,” Martin said.

Translation: We lobby for less regulation, less oversight, and more money for us, us, US!!! As for you peons, you’re screwed, and we’re laughing all the way to the bank, behind your back. Meanwhile, to your face, we say all this lovely innocuous-sounding crap so you’ll think we’re the good guys, out for your best interests when in fact we couldn’t have them less at heart. Aren’t we clever?

Hey, I have a terrific idea for the carmakers, and all those other big financial firms that got bailout money but are still spending so much on lobbying for even less oversight and regulation than they already get: How about you people all just go and learn to become self-sufficient, as you’re always telling the rest of us to do? No bailout money for you. You obviously don’t need any. You’ll have to learn to manage your own better, and if that means no golden parachutes, corporate jets or other diamond-studded perks, so be it. Cut your profit margins and cut your own executive salaries. You can well afford to. And above all, cut your lobbying to zero. Reinvest all that cash in plants, workers, “green” and fuel-efficient designs–you know, all that unimportant stuff you’ve been neglecting, but the Japanese haven’t? The stuff that makes their cars so much better than yours?

If you do all that, you might be surprised at how suddenly competitive you become…and how much the morale and productivity of the workers suddenly improves. You might even actually find yourselves out of trouble for good, and never having to lobby any government, anywhere, again!

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