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  • Morning Bell: Taxpayers' Auto Bailout Losses Mounting

    Taxpayers will lose even more on the auto bailout than previously thought, as the Treasury has just revised its estimate upward to $25 billion. This may still underestimate the losses to come—yet President Obama plans to tout the auto bailout as a key accomplishment of his Administration.

    Politico recently obtained a draft of planning documents for the Democratic National Convention, finding a repeated focus on the auto bailout. The draft described the convention’s objectives:

    Tell the story of the President’s accomplishments—the auto rescue, manufacturing, ending the war, health care, energy—as central to his fight for the middle class and America’s long-term economic strength.

    As the losses continue to grow, will the President acknowledge that the only people truly “rescued” were unions? The President could have kept the automakers running without losing money—if he had restricted his Administration’s involvement to only providing bankruptcy financing. Instead, the Obama Administration involved itself heavily in the bankruptcy process, picking winners and losers instead of following normal bankruptcy law.

    Heritage labor expert James Sherk and co-author Todd Zywicki found that all of the taxpayer losses occurred because the Administration manipulated bankruptcy law to shelter the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) compensation. None of the losses were necessary to preserve jobs, and taxpayers spent billions to prop up the compensation of some of the most highly paid workers in America. They write:

    We estimate that the Administration redistributed $26.5 billion more to the UAW than it would have received had it been treated as it usually would in bankruptcy proceedings.…Thus, the entire loss to the taxpayers from the auto bailout comes from the funds diverted to the UAW.

    The union workers, who were making more than $70 an hour in wages and benefits, received preferential treatment when their companies had to restructure. GM and Chrysler owed billions to a trust fund they had created to provide UAW members with gold-plated retiree health benefits—and taxpayers ended up paying right into that fund. That doesn’t happen in a normal bankruptcy.

    Even Stephen Rattner, President Obama’s “car czar,” has admitted that “We should have asked the UAW to do a bit more. We did not ask any UAW member to take a cut in their pay.” As a result, even after the reorganization, GM still has higher labor costs ($56 an hour) than any of its foreign-based competitors.

    More than $26 billion went out the door and into the UAW’s pockets. That’s bigger than the budget of the entire State Department. It’s bigger than all U.S. foreign aid spending. It’s 50 percent more than NASA’s budget—and the UAW isn’t going to be exploring Mars any time soon.

    This massive payoff did not “save Detroit.” Though the Motor City has a well-earned reputation for having the greatest auto workers in the nation, these workers largely build cars for only three companies. There are no Volkswagen manufacturing plants in the Detroit area—or Mercedes-Benz. Or Kia. Or Hyundai. Or BMW. Since 1990, the majority of these successful foreign automakers’ new manufacturing plants have been built in right-to-work states like Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

    Workers in Detroit didn’t gain any new options. And perhaps even more dangerously, the auto bailout established a precedent of government interference in private business. It’s not a pretty picture—three years after Washington stepped in, U.S. taxpayers still owned 32 percent of GM. Next to Fannie Mae and the Postal Service, it is one of the largest government-owned enterprises in America.

    And the Administration, as well as some in Congress, have used the auto companies to further their political agenda. As Heritage’s James Gattuso noted, “political influence has been clear in everything from the selection of dealers to be closed to the marketing of dubious, but administration-favored, ‘green’ vehicles.”

    American taxpayers are unnecessarily on the hook for the gold-plated retirement benefits of a few. Twisting bankruptcy law to benefit a politically influential special interest group isn’t something to brag about.

    Quick Hits:

    • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation moved at its meeting in Saudi Arabia to suspend Syria from the group, over opposition from Iran.
    • A Detroit store is offering free Nikes to every student who shows up to school for Student Count Day, the day when attendance is taken to determine state and federal funding for the schools.
    • A screening of a new movie about World War II veterans, Honor Flight, broke the world record for movie attendees with 28,442 in Milwaukee.
    • A new camera-based system called Facedeals could recognize you based on your Facebook pictures. Its designers say it could be used to offer you special discounts at merchants using the camera.
    • As if the economy wasn’t bad enough—did you know the government will take nearly half your paycheck next year? Heritage’s Patrick Tyrrell has the shocking details.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    60 Responses to Morning Bell: Taxpayers' Auto Bailout Losses Mounting

    1. toledofan says:

      The bailouts, stimulus, bad loans to the green companies and the give away mentality all point ot the lack of Obama's leadership and a distorted view of how the world works. It's also another indicator of why the Democrats can't be trusted with managing the economy; they just can't accept or know how it works and the continued tinkering just makes things worse. The scarey part of this is that if Obama is re-elected he'll do the same things over and over.

    2. Joanne says:

      I would like to make a comment regarding the statement that the Post Office is a government owned enterprises. The Post Office is fully funded by postage, not by taxes. Issa's remarks about a postal bailout is untrue. The Post Office has over paid the Federal Employee Retirement System by $11 billion with funds paid by postage. That is return on overpayment, not a taxpayer bailout. The Post Office has been crushed by a 2006 mandate to prefund 75 years of benefits in 10 years, unlike any private enterprise or government agency. This regulation would crush a business. Without this requirement, the Post Office would have generated a profit of 611 million. This mandate is an accounting trick for the Post Office to bail out the Federal Treasury that's under water. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 establishes the post office.

    3. Pete Houston says:

      So the politicians paid $26B for the autoworkers union vote in the next election. Are their enough of them to make that much difference? Cost per vote should be ?. Can almost guarantee that was a bad investment if it was your own money that you used but when you use someone elses money to buy votes, seems cheap.

    4. patsy says:

      Last time I checked Unions were Workers. So, let's be honest in phrasing and use the term Workers. I won't object if instead of corporations you use the term "the wealthy".

      • Bobbie says:

        unions are paid by workers to represent workers. so lets be honest in phrasing the term union.

      • eml says:

        Now we know how you got your name…

      • Stirling says:

        Corporations are "people" patsy.. just like workers who have 401k plans invested in "corporations." the investment is in people not an inanimate thing.. "The Wealthy" is a class warfare racist term, stop the hate please..

      • Nicholas says:

        The difference is that not all workers are unionized. In addition corporations are treated as individuals by the law but are not in and of themselves wealthy. There are also examples of corporations whose board of directors, CEO's… are not wealthy. Companies that are just starting up and become incorporated in order to limit liability.

    5. Ben C. says:

      And this is why I buy Ford products. What about the previous GM bond holders? Do I recall correctly that they got the "shaft" in the reorganization by Obama?

    6. john says:

      Obama screwed the bond holders of GM and Chrysler to cater to the unions. I would like to know will these bondholders be given back their rights and the company put in bankrupsy court where it really belongs?

      • BobC says:

        I am glad that some one still remembers the bond holders, of which I am one. I sold Ford bonds and bought GM believing that bonds, in general, were a safe investment. Although I did not lose much I still feel that an injustice was performed. I feel sorry for those retired individuals that had invested in GM bonds and relied on the income. True GM was in trouble but the bankruptcy could have been handled differently. For years we had been told of the union benefits and pensions were causing the problem. They still are, nothing has changed.

    7. Jim Cipa says:

      Don't forget the loss of investor funding. Since the stock and bond holders of GM got the "short end of the stick" few investors are willing to put their money into GM; GM stock has gone from an opening of $35 per share to under $20 per share within two years. GM's greatest loss was in it's credability within the financial sector. How much will it cost the taxpayers when GM goes bankrupt again? It would have made more sense to have a multi-billion dollar bonfire in front of the white house.
      Jim from Detroit

    8. Senator Blutarsky says:

      The $25 billion loss estimate is a low-ball figure that doesn't withstand even cursory analysis. It ignores the NOL carryforwards that a proper bankruptcy would have extinguished, as well as losses on GMAC (since rebranded as Ally Financial, whose IPO was conveniently pulled before the election campaign.

      There is also the question of GM's accounting; if the gap between GM assumptions and market reality exposed in GM's pension transaction with Prudential is representative of the rest of the pension plan, then the actual level of underfunding may be twice the $25 billion claimed in the 10-K. I posted details here:
      http://senatorjohnblutarsky.blogspot.com/2012/08/

    9. Don Sibery says:

      http://pushbacknow.net/2012/07/12/79-of-gms-sales

      I would appreciate if you would research the claim on this web site. If it is true it should be included in your report on the bailout of GM.

      DCS

    10. Don says:

      Your article is factually correct. The challenge is how to get the average voter to read and understand the content and the implications. Unfortunately, the most frequently read media will not carry this story.

    11. Michael McCabe says:

      "50% more than NASA's budget"? That infuriates me. However, since when has there been a budget? The Senate continually ignores that little responsibility.

    12. Stirling says:

      By setting the precidence of bailing out GM/Crysler the president has ensured the distruction of the unions, plain and simple it has taken any "incentive" away from them to succeed. At some point the "Losses" will mount to a point that will overcome any arguement that saving jobs was worth it.. At this point the bailout will become a PR nightmare for any union that will be as bad as "Enron" in the minds of the American people. Crony capitalism may have short term gains but make for long term disasters.

    13. Sam says:

      Can the taxpayer's hire some more lawyers, and get their money back?

    14. Dan says:

      There is no statement about the loss incurred by the original stockholders when the Obama administration nationalized GM, why?

    15. John C. Davidson says:

      All the Dems have to brag about is taxpayer supported private businesses.

    16. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Obama supports the unions, Heritage supports life-long politicians…What's the difference?

    17. We as Americans are looked at as people who would "give the shirt off our backs" to help others. Our government has played this tune to the people for years defining our tax structure as a charity organization that is needed to help those in need. The problem is in "their definition" of who "those in need are". If we the taxpayers of this country could look in the mirror at our back sides we would see that the shirt and pants have already been striped away. Next they will be coming for what is left.

    18. Tom says:

      This piece says that labor costs were $70/hr before Obama; then one paragraph later it says that GM's costs now are $56/hr. But Rattner is quoted as saying "we did not ask the unions to take a cut in pay" — so where did the decrease in the pay/benefits package come from??

    19. Ken Patterson says:

      Nothing new under the sun, just O buma trying to destroy America from within, and getting lots of help from the right wing Media!!!

    20. John Pindorski says:

      Let me start by saying that I'm a staunch conservative that votes 100% conservative and I find it very objectionable how Obama took over GM and manipulated the Chrysler deal…but:

      • John Pindorski says:

        I don't know what retired UAW auto workers you're talking about but they're not the ones I know. Having several family members retired from the Big Three they get a monthly pension equal to Social Security. If they retiree before age 65 the company pays their pension. When they reach age 65 their pensions are reduced by whatever amount they get in Social Security. They go on Medicare A and B with the company (now the union) supplementing part of the cost.

    21. George Marcom says:

      There's no mention here of the widows and orphans who got thrown under the bus by the unlawful forfeit of GM's bond funds The MSM has generally dismissed this travesty in passing.
      Disclosure: I didn't lose a nickel from this bond default. Knew better. Instead, I lost my nickels on telecom stocks.

    22. meekee says:

      Do not we all love ObamaSpender? Hey

      • bmason says:

        Since we OWN a major part of GM, shouldn't we be able to buy a car at cost plus? Fat chance huh!

    23. timpclimber says:

      Surprised? I'm not. The deal smelled bad from the first and when I've watched Obama's attitude and actions in reviving the economy, I knew this would sink just like Solyndra. Socialist economics rarely work in the long run. Wait till health care rationing begins and everyone will see where we have been lead. November must be the stop date for this kind of leadership.

    24. We should have let the auto industry go thru bankruptcy and pay everyone who lost a job a 6 month buyout. That would have been less expensive and done more to solve the problem long term. Anyone with vision can see that GM will be back in the same position again in the near future. This lasted just long enough for democrats to payoff and secure the union vote while screwing the American taxpayer and the previous stakeholders in GM. Stock has already dropped by 60%, from $50 per share to $20 without an end in sight or a product in production to save GM. Let's tout that success Mr. President…

    25. Frank Schwartz says:

      Once we have the national election in November, the President and the new Congress should declare these bailouts illegal and recover the money .

    26. @seafms says:

      Once the new election is held, the President and the Congress should declare these bailouts illegal and recover this money.

    27. Reality99r says:

      Makes you wonder why anyone of sound mind would ever purchase a General Motors vehicle

      • eml says:

        For the same reason they voted for Obama and the democrats…and will do so again–they don't have sound minds.

    28. will says:

      What we have here is, perhaps, and insurmountable opportunity. The Romney campaign could take these powerful talking points and make a case for Administration malpractice to the most enlightened voters… but at what cost? For every vote gained on the merits, how many more would be lost to the "Settled Opinion" of the masses that the bailout was a success. And the more effective the case, the more the media would have to demonize the Romney campaign for undermining the false reporting of a recovery of GM and Chrysler. The fail-safe strategy may be to let Heritage and others carry the water and keep the campaign on the high road?

    29. Richard says:

      GM is going to go bankrupt. It is only a matter of time. They never fixed the problems in the first place.
      There is still water leaking out of the bottom of the pail. The question should be how can the taxpayers prevent the administration from throwing more tax dollars at the "problem?"

    30. boberic says:

      The bailout was completely unneccesary. All that was needed was a loan gurantee. When Chrysler was in trouble some time ago they received a loan guarantee and they came out with a very successful result. The Obama bailout was nothing more than a political payoff, that the taxpayers are paying for. And by the way so what if GM or Chrysler had to declare bankcuptcy, so what. And maybe one them might have gone out of business, many very large companies are no longer in business. Ever hear of American Motors, or Studebaker, or Hudson, or DeLorean, ect etc. What about Eastern Airlines,or Pan Am. Many companies were taken over by bigger more successful outfits before the failing companies closed their doors. Gm and Chrysler were failing foe many reasons. Lousy cars very expensive pensions and health care union benefits. In A free market system thats how it supposed to work, not with government seizing failing companies. Thats what socialist countries do. It,s called government controll of the means of production. It's been tried before it never repeat NEVER works.

    31. Lloyd Scallan says:

      And yet, this lying, dispicable Obama stands on the stump telling the people the auto industry has "come roaring back and is now again No. 1." Both are complete lies. Yet fools believe what this guy says. Can anyone explain how an American, with American values and honor, listen to Obama and vote for him?

    32. Robert Villella says:

      What scares me the most is that Obama recently said he wants to save other manufacturing sectors like he saved GM. "I want to take this across the country."

    33. And to add the FACT that they used OUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS to buy the rights to sponsor a BRITTISH Soccer team's jerseys to the tune of millions, and bought a large portion of Pugeot- also form Europe. This is OUR MONEY they are toying with.

    34. Steve Friedland says:

      Heritage needs to stand up for the hundreds of thousands of GM shareholders who lost millions of dollars of their investment in the "Old GM." The Uh-oh-bama Administration forced GM into bankruptcy to take ownership of the corporation, thereby exercising de facto eminent domain without just compensation in violation of the 5th Amendment. The resources of the "New GM" were bought and paid for by the shareholders of the "Old GM" yet these shareholders were left with worthless stock. The valuable assets of the "Old GM" were transferred without compensation to the shareholders to the "Old GM", who were left with the bad assets and liabilities of the company. This so-called bailout by the current Administration was in reality an unconstitutional takeover of a firm. The Federal Government owns 61% of the "New GM." It should retain 51% ownership and distribute 10% to the shareholders of the "Old GM." This is the case that Heritage should be making.

    35. Jaime Cancio says:

      Let's tell the truth; It is interesting to note, reading of respected economist, that GM will eventually fail as it only the bailout money that is keeping it afloat. The only reason GM, or Obozo-ass, can even make claims positive for GM is the fact car manufacturing in Japan has ceased because of a nature disaster; when Japan's auto industry restarts, GM will collaspe. Secondly, the money given GM was used to build GM Corp office and plants in China…GM is pulling out of American production at which time all those employed now will be out-of-work and no where to find employment.

    36. Albert Maslar says:

      Government sponsored "structured bankruptcy" proves once again that government refuses to follow legitimate settled bankruptcy laws, but acts against the public interest as payback to union bosses. President Obama acted dictatorially as is his modus operandi for political gain, but unlike Midas who turned everything he touched into gold, everything President Obama touches turns into disaster ala the auto, banking, brokerage, insurance and Solyndra type industries that have been corrupted and paid off at taxpayer expense. Too big to fail is not a truism and too big to fail must be allowed to fail to make room for bona fide restructuring on sound bases. Bailed out banks paid huge unearned bonuses from taxpayer coffers simply because government created no oversight, And now the losses from bailed out GM are going through the roof. President Obama shows his lack of business smarts by exactly doing the wrong thing at the wrong time; then doubling down and repeating the same INTENTIONAL political payoff errors. The man is a virtual Obama Bad Luck Joe Btfsplk. Cartoonist Al Capp characterized Joe Btfsplk as a well-meaning but jinxed character in the Li’l Abner comic strip in which a dark rain cloud perpetually hovers over the head of Joe Btfsplk to symbolize his bad luck.

      By his own admission, President Barack Obama has morphed into Joe Btfsplk, blaming the stall in the economic recovery on a run of bad luck. In his Aug. 15, 2011 speech in Iowa Obama is quoted, “We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, got the economy moving again, but over the last six months, we've had a run of bad luck.”

      There is a long list of bad luck chance occurrences, including Japan that had its earthquake, subsequent tsunami, and its nuclear power disaster, decimating its manufacturing economy. Europe chimed in with its debt problems in Greece, Italy, and Spain. The Arab unrest upset the Middle East with its “Arab Spring” revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and spreading. Oil prices spiked and Congress refused to increase taxes.

      Like the staid old saying, if President Obama did not have bad luck he wouldn’t have any luck at all, much to America's chagrin.

    37. Albert Maslar says:

      Obama Bad Luck Joe Btfsplk Again
      8/14/2012 — Government sponsored "structured bankruptcy" proves once again that government refuses to follow legitimate settled bankruptcy laws, but acts against the public interest as payback to union bosses. President Obama acted dictatorially as is his modus operandi for political gain, but unlike Midas who turned everything he touched into gold, everything President Obama touches turns into disaster ala the auto, banking, brokerage, insurance and Solyndra type industries that have been corrupted and paid off at taxpayer expense.

      Too big to fail is not a truism and too big to fail must be allowed to fail to make room for bona fide restructuring on sound bases. Bailed out banks paid huge unearned bonuses from taxpayer coffers simply because government created no oversight, President Obama shows his lack of business smarts by exactly doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, and then doubling down and repeating the same INTENTIONAL political payoff errors.

      The man is a virtual Obama Bad Luck Joe Btfsplk. Cartoonist Al Capp characterized Joe Btfsplk as a well-meaning but jinxed character in the Li’l Abner comic strip in which a dark rain cloud perpetually hovers over the head of Joe Btfsplk to symbolize his bad luck.

      By his own admission, President Barack Obama has morphed into Joe Btfsplk, blaming the stall in the economic recovery on a run of bad luck. In his 2011 speech in Iowa on Aug. 15, Obama is quoted, “We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, got the economy moving again, but over the last six months, we've had a run of bad luck.”

      There is a long list of bad luck chance occurrences, including Japan that had its earthquake, subsequent tsunami, and its nuclear power disaster, decimating its manufacturing economy. Europe chimed in with its debt problems in Greece, Italy, and Spain. The Arab unrest upset the Middle East with its “Arab Spring” revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and spreading. Oil prices spiked and Congress refused to increase taxes.

      Like the staid old saying, if President Obama did not have bad luck he wouldn’t have any luck at all, much to America’s chagrin.

    38. Pamela says:

      I am 67 I really can't remember any other president lying SO BADLY through out his time in office.
      I hope and pray this con artist is gone come the 1st of the year At least it would give us another 4 years to maybe, just maybe get jobs back and people out of debt instead of into MORE debt by this crazy administration. Liberals and unions go find another country to destroy.

    39. J. Wilcox says:

      The 1/2 of America on the government take will vote for him to keep their goodies coming. They evidently never stop to consider that the problem with Socialism/Communism is that soon they run out of other people's money. How do the lower and middle class eat and live then? History tells us most of them — don't.

    40. charles fisenne says:

      A bailout with billions for the unions to prosper? No, more likely almost all the money will be spent on advertising for Obama, A feedback!

    41. Bobbie says:

      Why the money reward (without consent) to proven irresponsibility? WASTE! Everywhere money went will be greater losses… who cares? No accountability from the reckless business to the president of the country makes for mighty fine crisis' of all sorts! We buy Ford! Toyota doesn't hold his hand out either!!

    42. BlueShadowII says:

      I'm still waiting for an explanation of how closing privately owned dealerships saved money for GM and Chrysler. These dealerships owned or leased their own facilities and paid their own expenses (including their employees' wages) out of the difference between the wholesale and retail prices of the vehicles, parts, and service that they sold. Manufacturers set the wholesale prices they charge and even add a national.advertising surcharge. So where is the savings?

    43. Tim says:

      Congress' approval ratings are 9%. This is an indictment of the voter (that's you). We elect these folks and they are/or should be a reflection of what we the voters want. Romney when he was a Massachusetts Governor was pro-choice and actively campaigned for what became the "Obamacare" law when Mass was his constituency. Now that he is national candidate his constituency has changed and he reflects the views of Pro-Life and is opposed to health care coverage. Reducing YOUR problems to public figures (Calvin Klein models essentially) ignores YOUR civic obligation to be informed, to read, to be involved and contribute to your local communities.

      • Bobbie says:

        What the heck are you saying, Tim? Open your mind to accept states are separate from federal. It sounds like it was a success? What's wrong with opposition to what the federal government has no jurisdiction in? It's commendable and protecting the peoples' American constitution. I don't agree with "pro choice" at all. Every single persons mother is pro life. I do consider his opinion interesting but irrelevant to his position as president conducting his role. Hear what the President Obama said and look what he did. States issue he overrode violating the peoples' constitution for the ride! Everyone gets to be as irresponsible as they want holding the tax payers accountable to cover the costs. Direct violation to his oath of office. Obama doesn't believe in personal responsibility which means he doesn't believe in personal dignity and it shows. This country needs leadership that lives by their word. Obama campaigns underhandedly using the republican party to reflect Obama's failures as republicans. That's just lower than life and this is just the surface…

    44. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Government Motors is still losing money. Ford isn't. Buy a Ford.

    45. Wesinthemidwest says:

      Something that is missing here is the 20,000 salary jobs that were lost, pensions and all.

    46. Patriot53 says:

      I wonder when we're going to start charging the UAW a BILLION dollars per year until the "taxpayers" are paid back. Or maybe we should bill obama the communist and take every cent he has now and will ever make until HE pays us back for his theft. This really needs to be addressed no other little communist in the future thinks they can do this again.

    47. Derak James says:

      How is it that the bailout, make that repeated bailouts, were to save detroit, and unemployment here is still about the highest in the country. Detroit's government nearly went broke last year, scratch that, their deficit is enormous, and a few months after April this year, they are again talking bankruptcy and emergency manager.

      How is it that the bailout(s) were to save jobs, and yet GM still cut many plants and divisions? This would have happened under bankruptcy too, so why did we need to spend how many billions on it?!!! Now it comes out that the plants cut were not even the most expensive to run due to favoring unions, and, like after the first 2 bailouts, the company is still going down, still too inefficient, etc. Stop rewarding the same mistakes Obama! How shameless does one have to be to claim this as success!

    48. Wow, $25 billion lost and $26 billion going to the UAW pockets. That's great news, but I'd rather talk about how Tom Morello doesn't like Paul Ryan being a fan of Rage Against the Machine or that the Silverson Pickups don't want Romney using one of their songs, because that's more important news than billion $ losses/croney payouts or racist comments made by the vice president..

    49. roger says:

      I hope and pray voters realize what we have in the White House and throw this guy out…………

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