Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) — General Motors Corp., criticized by U.S. lawmakers for its use of corporate jets, asked aviation regulators to block the public’s ability to track a plane it uses.

Can you say Chimpy/Cheney/Rethuglican move?

Original DVD cover

“We availed ourselves of the option as others do to have the aircraft removed” from a Federal Aviation Administration tracking service, a GM spokesman, Greg Martin, said yesterday in an interview. He declined to discuss why GM made the request.

Flight data show that the leased Gulfstream Aerospace G-IV jet flew Nov. 18 from Detroit to Washington, where Chief Executive Officer Richard Wagoner Jr. spoke to a Senate committee that day and a House panel the next day on behalf of a $25 billion auto-industry rescue plan.

Representatives at the Nov. 19 House hearing including Democrat Gary Ackerman of New York faulted Wagoner, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler LLC CEO Robert Nardelli for taking private jets to Washington to plead their case.

“Couldn’t you all have downgraded to first class?” Ackerman said.

Critics of a federal aid package for GM, Ford and Chrysler spotlighted the exchange to attack the money-losing companies as undeserving of a bailout. GM, the biggest U.S. automaker, has said it may run out of operating cash by year’s end without government loans.

The Gulfstream jet was leased from GE Capital Solutions in Danbury, Connecticut, a unit of General Electric Co. After the plane’s latest flight to Washington on Nov. 25, and from there to Dallas, its movements could no longer be tracked.

An FAA spokeswoman, Laura Brown, said she couldn’t immediately determine whether her agency had granted GM’s flight-privacy request.


GM also has seven planes in its own fleet. All were grounded yesterday, said a spokesman, Tom Wilkinson. Two are for sale and two are in the process of being listed for sale, while Detroit-based GM plans to keep three, he said.

NEW YORK (Fortune) — Nobody from Detroit got a particularly warm welcome in Washington last week, but the reception was coolest for General Motors, the largest and most vulnerable automaker.

As GMers admit off the record, Chairman and CEO Richard Wagoner turned in a dismal performance during two days of congressional testimony.

He served up the same kind of boilerplate that GM (GM, Fortune 500) has been offering analysts and journalists for months: We promise to make better cars, more economical cars, more alternative fuel cars.

And he presented a laundry list of steps the company has taken to regain profitability, like reducing manufacturing capacity, suspending dividend payments and eliminating health care coverage for salaried retirees.

But with a straight face, he blamed GM’s problems not on its products, its business plan or its long-term strategy but on “the global financial crisis.” He didn’t bother to acknowledge that GM has lost an astonishing $72 billion in the past four years on his watch – including $51 billion before the crisis hit in 2008.


With the company in danger of running out of cash before the inauguration of President-elect Obama, what should Wagoner do now?

Start burning the deck chairs. GM needs to make some visible and effective efforts to cut costs and raise cash.


Show some sacrifice.
GM is currently planning to go ahead with its scheduled Christmas shutdown from Dec. 24th until January 5th. That’s great – GM employees will be on paid holiday while the rest of us are working. GM should get them back to their jobs and have them come up with more ways to raise cash.

Develop a plan and sell it hard.
Wagoner tried to bluff the government into a bailout without showing any of his cards. That didn’t work, so now he needs to up the ante. When Chrysler was on the ropes in 1979, CEO Lee Iacocca put together a display of new models and took it on the road to demonstrate that Chrysler had a future. Wagoner needs to do the same thing.


But what is GM’s future? Certainly not as a manufacturer selling eight – count ’em eight – brands of cars at a time when Toyota (TM), its closest competitor, gets by with three.


Some have suggested that GM become, in effect, an arm of the federal government, performing the energy independence work that Obama has promised. But having seen GM fail at profitably making and selling automobiles, something it has been doing for 100 years, I’m frightened about the possibility that it should try its hand at something new.

By now, it is clear to almost everyone that the U.S. doesn’t need three independent car companies any longer. There isn’t enough business for all of them.

What Wagoner should do is design a new structure that will allow the three of them to combine forces. […] The hard part will be convincing the Ford family to relinquish its control of Ford Motor.

Here is how Wagoner can do it: Looming in 2020 are stringent new federal fuel economy regulations that will require cars that get 35 miles per gallon. The current mandate is 27.5 mpg.

Meanwhile, California and a dozen other states are licking their lips in anticipation of a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency that will allow them to demand cars that get 43 miles per gallon.

Having underinvested for years, it is going to be exceedingly difficult for Ford to meet that target. But by sharing technology with GM, it may have a chance.

If he can turn the Detroit Three into the Big One with a new environmental mandate, Wagoner will have developed a compelling rationale for a Congressional bailout.

It is worth a shot. Nothing else has succeeded so far.



Filed under Barack Obama, California, Chimpy, Congress, Democrats, George W. Bush, humor, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, Senate, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

9 responses to “Guff-stream

  1. The Big Three’s Big Three Pigs were so eager to line up at the bailout trough, they didn’t bother to prepare even slight plans for what they planned to do with their share of our tax dollars.
    Their lack of preparedness is what got them into this mess. Fu¢k them.

  2. karen,
    they didn’t bother, because they figured they would get exactly what they want delivered on a silver tray. i’m not sure which pisses me off more–their greed or their arrogance.

  3. Their arrogance should. It’s what got them into this mess. They still believe that what’s good for GM is good for the country, and vice versa.

  4. neon vincent,
    just like the rethuglicans, they are stuck with some idyllic idea of life that they saw in a 1950’s sitcom. they can’t succeed, because their ideas are unrealistic and archaic. however, their arrogance doesn’t allow them to admit the error of their ways.

  5. jeb

    The obvious puns such as they helped drive the economy into the ditch come easily but the reality is that this is just indicative of what’s wrong with such stupid economic philosophies as “letting the market dictate.” It ignores the reality that these giant corporations have been insulated and protected by the government forever without any accountability.

    I hope, I mean really hope, that the incoming Congress and administration do the right thing. If the financial companies and auto companies come with their hat’s in hand – suggesting that the health of our economy requires government assistance – fine, then present a business plan. For the banks, show how mortgage and credit relief for working people will be provided. For the car companies, show how the SUV guzzlers are being ditched and real fuel standards are in the plans. Also, show accountability at the top, those who have helped cause these problems with their greed and bad decision making should be laid off before anyone on the working level and no bonuses! If the government provides bailout relief, then the government becomes the new board of directors until real changes are made and the day of the empirical CEO’s is over.

  6. everything that is wrong with the american economy is demonstrated in the auto industry…… especially the CEO celebrities who think they are so much better than any of us

    and the right wing douches like limbaugh – blaming the high cost of auto workers — name ONE auto worker who made a decision to build cars that NO ONE wants

  7. jeb

    Limbaugh is a soul less parasite on the a$$ of the decaying GOP elephant and the vested corporate interests. He should just STFU and go away now. I’m sure he has enough money to keep him in hillbilly heroin and sex vacations to the DR for the rest of his life.

  8. I’ll bet Limbaugh isn’t tooling around in a Pontiac Sunbird, that slimy sack of scum.

  9. originally, i thought that the big 3 had to be bailed out in order to save the economy. however, observing the attitude and actions (and nonaction) of the ceos, i am no longer convinced that bailing them out will do a damned thing other than prolong the agony. the first thing we should demand if the big 3 are to be bailed out is that the ceos are replaced. just as aig as once again reneged on the promise that they wouldn’t reward the uppity-ups, the hotshots at the big 3 will find a loophole that will enrich themselves and piss on the workers.

    i was watching c-span this morning, and a guy called in with a very good question. if the government is going to go into business, should it act like good businesspeople? don’t buy a company for a lot of bucks when it is on the skids. wait for it to go belly-up, buy it for peanuts, build it back up the right way, and make a huge profit. hire people who will run it the right way, and then stand back. the government does not have to be in on the day-to-day decisions, but the taxpayers can share the profits.

    i think bailing out the banks and aig have slashed all the socialism arguments that anyone can have. the old ideas are no longer working. the problem with the big 3 is that they only have old ideas. time for new ones.