The Obama camp can’t stop clucking about how he saved GM and the car industry. But if the GM bailout is such a success story, why can’t it pay back its debt to taxpayers?
The president’s new campaign video narrated by actor Tom Hanks claims GM has “repaid” its loans. But in a revelation by the special inspector general monitoring the TARP bailout program, GM and GMAC together still owe the biggest share of the remaining $119 billion TARP debt.
Of the top bailout recipients, GM is the biggest laggard, the TARP watchdog says in his latest quarterly report to Congress. Bank of America, Citigroup, Chrysler and Chrysler Financial all have paid off their debt and left the TARP program. Even AIG has paid back more than 75% of what it owes taxpayers.
GM, on the other hand, still owes more than half the $50 billion in federal funds it received when the combination of the recession and its costly union contracts drove it into bankruptcy. And its lending arm, GMAC (now Ally Financial), still owes $14.5 billion.
What’s worse, it’s not clear that GM actually repaid what it’s gotten credit for repaying. Check out this note buried in the inspector’s report: “As part of a credit agreement with Treasury, $16.4 billion in TARP funds were placed in an escrow account that GM could access only with Treasury’s permission.”