Have you seen the ads in which General Motors says that they paid back the government bailout money? Well, George Will says that this is not exactly correct:
A television commercial featuring CEO Ed Whitacre demonstrates the institutional murkiness and intellectual dishonesty that result when the line between public and private sectors disappears.
In the commercial, Whitacre says GM has “repaid our government loan in full.” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) noted that GM used government funds to pay back the government: It “simply transferred $6.7 billion from one taxpayer-funded TARP account to another.” The government still owns 60.8 percent of GM’s common equity, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that the government will lose about $34 billion of the $82 billion of TARP funds disbursed to the automotive industry.
When Ryan and two colleagues asked the Treasury Department for clarification, they got this careful reply: “Treasury has never suggested that the loan repayment represented a full return of all government assistance.” A Treasury news release did say “GM Repays Treasury Loan in Full.” The loan is, however, a small part of taxpayer exposure. Under crony capitalism, when government and corporate America merge, both dissemble.