The GM Shell Game

The New York Times recently ran a good article on GM’s blatant shell game in claiming that it had “repaid” “in full, with interest” the loan it received from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.  GM ran a TV ad boasting of the loan “repayment,” and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner also touted GM’s “repayment” as indicating that the company “is on a strong path to viability.”

As the Times article notes, it turns out that the “repayment” was a sham, because GM used money from a taxpayer-financed escrow account to repay the TARP loan.  Check out the protestations from GM and the Treasury Department that their statements about the “repayment” have not been misleading — particularly the statement of a “senior adviser” to Geithner, who says:  “We have never not been clear about exactly what we paid, exactly the terms of the investment. I’m finding it hard to find anyone obfuscating about this.”  Double negative aside, only a federal bureaucrat would claim not to see something misleading about bragging about “repayment” of a loan from the federal government without disclosing that taxpayer funds also were used to make the “repayment.”

Of course, a key remaining question is whether taxpayers paid for the deceptive GM commercial touting the phony loan “repayment.”  Since GM seems to be largely propped up by tax dollars, the answer is probably “yes” — which is itself infuriating.