Skip to comments.Grassley works to establish facts behind claim that GM repaid its TARP loan
Posted on 04/28/2010 3:34:35 PM PDT by quesney
From: Press Office of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa ------------------------------------------------
WASHINGTON --- Senator Chuck Grassley today continued to peel back the layers of taxpayer obligations behind last weeks claim and fanfare about General Motors repaying its multi-billion dollar loan from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout.
Last week, Grassley asked the Treasury Secretary why the administration had allowed GM to use money from an escrow account at Treasury to repay this loan, allowing an elaborate TARP money shuffle.
In a floor speech this afternoon, Grassley said the response he received today from the Treasury Department confirmed that taxpayers funded the loan repayment by way of cash that GM has because the federal government originally loaned that cash to GM, and then the federal government agreed to forgive some of GMs debt during bankruptcy in exchange for stock in the company, the value of which is uncertain.
The bottom line is that the repayment was made on the dime of taxpayers across America, and its misleading to say that GM repaid its TARP loans in full, with interest, ahead of schedule, because more customers are buying GM cars, Grassley said. Taxpayers remain on the hook, thanks to the failed deal cut by the government to try to save GM from bankruptcy. Now, GM has pulled an additional $6.6 billion out of the escrow account but has left unpaid a $2.5 billion, nine-percent loan to the union health benefit fund.
Here is the April 19, 2010, request from GM to the Treasury Department asking for the distribution to GM of the entire amount of the reserve funds.
Grassley said the American people deserve straightforward information about whats happening with TARP and the tax dollars being used by the Treasury Department to manage what the government has taken over from the private sector. The situation hasnt been described in a candid way, and thats added insult to injury after more than a year of bailouts and record-level deficit spending.
Grassley has conducted oversight of the Treasury Departments management of TARP and gone to bat for the Special Inspector General for TARP when the administration has put up barriers to the Inspector General determining where the money has gone. The Iowa senator has criticized the lack of transparency with how TARP funds have been used and, last fall, he cosponsored legislation to end the program.
The Special Inspector General for TARP was created at the urging of Grassley and Senator Max Baucus of Montana, and when the Treasury Department changed the focus of the program less than a month after it began, Grassley worked with Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri to retool the Inspector Generals authority and empower the office to adequately scrutinize TARP spending and management.
Here is the text of Grassleys remarks today.
Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley GM and TARP Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Mr. President. Last Thursday, I wrote Secretary Geithner asking why the Treasury Department allowed General Motors to use TARP money from a Treasury escrow account to repay its multi-billion dollar TARP taxpayer loan. This afternoon, I received a response from Treasury. Id like to say a few words about the reply and the questions that remain unanswered. Last week, Treasury and GM announced with press releases and nationwide TV commercials that GM had repaid its TARP loans in full, with interest, ahead of schedule, because more customers are buying [GM vehicles].
However, the hype does not match the reality. Taxpayers have not been repaid in fullfar from it. Many billions of TARP dollars remain invested by Treasury in GM, and much of it will never be repaid. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that taxpayers will lose around $30 billion on GM. In addition, the payment that occurred last week did not come from revenue GM earned by selling cars, despite what was claimed. Instead, Treasury allowed GM to use funds in a separate escrow account to pay its TARP debt. The Treasury Departments response to me today makes a point of saying that GM owns the money in the escrow account, as if that somehow justifies all the hoopla about GMs so-called repayment.
Well, lets look at how GM came to own those escrow funds in the first place. The escrow funds were part of the TARP money Treasury paid for GM stock coming out of the bankruptcy. The money was supposed to be used by GM for expenses, as Treasury concedes. Treasury had the power to approve or disapprove GMs use of the money to repay the TARP taxpayer loan. Treasury approved, and GM pretended it was paying the loan back from revenue because business had improved. Business may have improved, but thats not how they paid the loan. Taking TARP money out of one account to pay back TARP loans in another account is not at all the same as paying off a loan with earnings, as GMs TV commercials imply they have done. That is why I called it an elaborate TARP money shuffle and nothing in Treasurys reply today changes that.
The public would know nothing about the TARP escrow money being the source of the supposed repayment from simply watching GMs TV commercials or reading Treasurys press release. Treasurys letter today says all these details are public knowledge and nothing new. Well, that may be technically correct, but it wasnt clearly communicated that way to the average citizen. Most Americans dont pore through SEC filings and Special Inspector Generals reports.
The GM commercial also did not mention that GM could have used the TARP escrow funds to repay a $2.5 billion, nine-percent loan it received from its union health plan as part of the bankruptcy process. The union loan runs until 2017. The TARP loan was at seven percent and ran until 2015. What sort of money manager would advise you to pay off a lower interest loan before a higher interest loan? GM and Treasury have still not explained that, and I have asked the TARP watchdog, Special Inspector Neil Barofsky, to get to the bottom of it. And to make matters worse, Treasury has admitted that it let GM take an additional $6.6 billion of TARP dollars out of the escrow fund last week with no strings attached. That money, too, could have been used to repay the high interest union loan.
There are reports that GM also applied to the Department of Energy for a $10 billion, five-percent loan to retool its plants to meet fuel economy standards. GM seems to be using government money to pay back government money, and then asking for more government money at a lower interest rate. It sounds like a plan to refinance GM's government debt with more taxpayer money--not pay it back.
GM had to ask permission from Treasury to use the taxpayers stock investment to pay off the taxpayers loan. Treasurys response to my letter says that Treasury retained approval rights over GMs use of funds from the escrow account in order to protect the taxpayer. Well, why didnt they protect the taxpayer then? Why would Treasury allow GM to use its equity investment to pay off the loan when it means giving up the legal right to a seven percent rate of return for the taxpayers in exchange for essentially nothing? Since the taxpayer has an equity stake in the company, its true that future growth of GM could theoretically make taxpayers whole, but taxpayers already had that equity interest before this latest transaction and didnt get any more equity as a result of the transaction.
Another key question is why would GM orchestrate a major media campaign to make the public think this all represents some big accomplishment by GM when the truth is that the taxpayers are still on the hook for billions that we may never recover? Using the taxpayers stock investment in GM to reduce its debt to the taxpayers is not the same as repaying that debt from money actually earned by selling cars. Treasurys reply today does not explain why it approved this transaction. Maybe its a step in the right direction, maybe not. But, instead of misleading the American people, we should be clear and up front about what happened here.
"The Congressional Budget Office estimates that taxpayers will lose around $30 billion on GM. In addition, the payment that occurred last week did not come from revenue GM earned by selling cars, despite what was claimed. Instead, Treasury allowed GM to use funds in a separate escrow account to pay its TARP debt."
Long live Ford.
Paid the Master Card off with the VISA. Duh?
Yep next car may be a FORD. Screw the GM liars.
They used taxdollars to pay $6.7 billion so they will be elgible for a $10 billion government fund for “retooling” to meet new CAFE standards.
think about that.
Another lie from the 0bama regime
I am 67 and every car I ever purchased new was GM except once. Last August we bought a Honda and love it. Will never have another GM product.
When will this nightmare be over? I am so sick of all of the corruption and lying.
All done to make obama look good and to cover up the fact we,not GM,not the unions using dues,will be paying their retirement benefits.
I’m glad somebody is.
In a serious world this would be a problem.
I mean really...what’d we expect from a car dealer? The truth?
I take this to mean that the "uncertain" number is huge, but hey, it's only taxpayers money!
Nothing is too big, too good or too expensive when it's taxpayer money.
One of those “if you owe me money, I’ll never be broke” kinda things.
Our local GM dealer has balloons, streamers, and signs saying they (GM) have repaid their loan. What total BS
I am 52 or so. Bought FORDS all my life. Still happy. Perfect? No. Good? Yes.’09 Mustang, great. Older F-250, still great. Rebuilt old Bronco, better than new. FoMoCo.
Excellent work by Sen. Grassley and his staff
I’ve got a hunch the guy who is now running GM must be from Chicago.