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Wednesday, 20 May 2009 08:46

Ralph Nader calls for Senate and House hearings on the auto task force

Ralph Nader, in a letter to Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, called on the Senate and House banking committees to hold thorough hearings to protect taxpayers' investments and seek answers to several questions such as:

  • Is the task force right in pushing for elimination of as many brands as it has demanded?
  • Is the task force asking for too many plants to close?
  • Do GM and Chrysler really need to close as many dealerships as have been announced? Is the logic of closing dealers to enable the remaining dealers to charge higher prices; and if so, why is the government facilitating such a move? Is it reasonable and fair for GM to impose liability for disposing of unsold cars on dealers with which it severs relations, as Chrysler has apparently done?
  • Has the task force evaluated the social ripple effects on suppliers, innovation, dealers, newspapers, banks and others that hold company stock and/or are company creditors, and other unique harms that might stem from bankruptcy?
  • Would a government-driven bankruptcy process comport with the rights of owner-shareholders?
  • Why has the task force maintained the Bush administration-negotiated obligation for unionized auto workers at GM and Chrysler to accept wages comparable to those in non-unionized Japanese company plants in the United States?
  • Is the task force obtaining guarantees that, after restructuring with U.S. taxpayer financing, GM cars sold in the United States be made in the United States? If not, why not?
  • How will bankruptcy affect GM's overseas operations, with special reference to China and GM corporate entanglements with Chinese partners? Are they and their profits being exempted from the restrictions and cutbacks imposed on domestic operations? If there is such a disparity, is it reasonable and unavoidable?
  • How will bankruptcy affect GM's obligations to parties engaged in pending litigation in the courts with GM regarding serious injuries suffered because of design or product defects?
  • What guarantees is the task force obtaining to ensure that the GM of the future invests in safer and more fuel efficient vehicles, and what investments will the new company make in ecologically sustainable technologies? How will a potential bankruptcy filing affect, ignore or preclude any such future investments and commitments?

See: Nader.Org for the full text of the letter.

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