GM's Bailout Payback Claims: Untrue at Any Speed! Or, Wasn't It Supposed to be Used Car Salesmen Who Were Such Liars?


Evidence continues to mount that GM and its government enablers are just full of malarkey when claiming that the taxpayer-owned automaker has paid back its bailout "in full and ahead of schedule." (Read Reason's first post on the matter here.)

Check out the video below, featuring Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) for the lowdown.

Ryan, along with Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), contacted Treasury officials to find out why they had claimed GM had repaid its debt in full. To which Treasury responded: "Treasury has never suggested that the loan repayment represented a full return of all government assistance." Which, among other things, is belied by an official Treasury press release titled, "GM REPAYS TREASURY LOAN IN FULL."

You can argue about semantics—that idiotic Ed Whitacre ad boasting about GM's repayment bona fides only implied that the makers of that Thalidomide baby of cars, the Pontiac Aztek, and the American answer to the Lada, the ultra-meltable '70s-era Chevy Nova Vega, had made themselves whole with the taxpayers—but that's a waste of time, given the larger picture.

And given the smaller picture, if the Competitive Enterprise Institute has anything to say about it. The free-market think thank has filed a deceptive advertising complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Go here for details. CEI is no fan of the FTC as a concept but the group does have a sense of humor about such things. As CEI counsel Sam Kazman said, "If I applied for a car loan using GM's financially misleading approach, I'd be tossed out of the dealership on my ear." And, no doubt, into a nice, ultra-low-rate mortgage on a house he couldn't afford.

On Friday, we broke down the loan baloney for you at Reason.tv. Is there a catalytic converter for bullshit? Because that's what GM and Treasury seem to be running on these days.

Update: As noted in the comments, I confused the Chevy Nova with the Chevy Vega, the short-time set of wheels owned by my older brother in the 1970s.

Even More Update: Skip Oliva is fighting mad at CEI for legitimizing the FTC's existence, writing

You'll forgive me, but after spending the past 10 years listening to dozens of FTC victims tell me their stories about the agency all but destroyed their lives, I find CEI's actions beyond despicable. They've granted legitimacy to one of the worst government organizations imaginable, and they did it just to score some cheap PR points against GM. I don't recall CEI helping victims of the FTC battle their attackers; now I see them enabling these bastards. CEI has damaged the free-market cause today.

As I noted above, I think CEI's gesture is done with tongue firmly in cheek. But read Oliva's argument here.