GM Has No Business Using Our Money On Campaign Contributions

General Motors has given $90,500 to candidates in the current election cycle, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Hmmm? Last time I looked, you and I and every other U.S. taxpayer owned a majority of GM. That means some of the money we’re earning as GM owners is being used to influence how we vote in the upcoming mid-term election.

To put it another way, we taxpayers are paying some people (GM executives) to tell us how we should vote for another group of people (House and Senate candidates) who will decide how our taxes will be used in the future.

GM spokesman Greg Martin justifies the expenditure as a competitive necessity. “We’re not going to sit on the sidelines as our competitors and other industries who have PACS are participating in the political process,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

In other words, now that we taxpayers own GM, it’s in our interest that GM use our money to affect how we vote, lest we mistakenly decide to support candidates who, once in office, enact legislation that helps GM’s competitors and not GM.

Wait a moment. I smell hypocrisy. Didn’t we help GM (and Chrysler) with a big bailout, and not help competitors Ford, Nissan, Honda, or Toyota or any other automaker that builds cars in the U.S.?

Moreover, the circularity of GM’s logic leads to some strange places. It would presumably allow any big corporation to get tax deductions (in effect, tax subsidies from the rest of us) for outlays for lobbyists, political ads, and political donations to members of congress – so long as these expenditures help the company relative to its competitors.

Problem is, the tax laws don’t allow this.

Nor does the law allow taxpayer-supported entities to use taxpayer dollars to influence elections. And yet this is exactly what GM is doing.

Since TARP, suspicions about big government in cahoots with big business have fueled tea partiers on the right and cynicism on the left. GM’s crass disregard for the spirit if not the letter of the law continues to fuel it.

About Robert Reich 545 Articles

Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, as an assistant to the solicitor general in the Ford administration and as head of the Federal Trade Commission's policy planning staff during the Carter administration.

He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s "Marketplace" are heard by nearly five million people.

In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod.

Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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2 Comments on GM Has No Business Using Our Money On Campaign Contributions

  1. Isn’t this pretty much the same a\s the Obama Administration using our own tax dollars against us to help support the Democraps? Doing an all out Nationwide Ad Campaign against Republicans in the up coming elections and using ur tax dollrs to do it…this i like when they pad the unions to steal GM and BEAT UP on Opponents of the Health Care Bill last year?

    Talk about illegal and unconstitutional..All of them should be put in jail for life!!

  2. Glenn. I am unaware that the government is using tax dollars to support Democrats. I could be wrong but I think the Republicans would put up a big stink about it if it were true.
    Are you just making things up or do you have a specific case(s) where the Obama administration took tax money and used it to promote a Democratic candidate.
    I know candidates can get federal funding for political campaigns but both Republicans and Democrats are eligible and there are strict limits on anyone taking federal funding
    Please respond. If it is true it needs to be exposed.
    If it’s not….you need to apologize

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