Akerson: Thanks for the bailout, you should pay higher gas taxes (The Michigan View 06.08.11)

Posted by hpayne on June 8, 2011

About the only thing less popular than GM’s $50 billion money-losing taxpayer bailout is high gas prices. So, naturally, Government Motors CEO Dan Akerson says he supports a hike in your gas taxes.

Someone gets this guy a PR department.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Detroit News, Loose Lips Akerson — a telecom exec who is the latest CEO to come through GM’s revolving executive suite door — let fly that he would like to see the “federal gas tax boosted as much as $1 a gallon to nudge consumers toward more fuel-efficient cars.” Akerson’s comments are more evidence of the cozy relationship between the Obama Administration and the Rentseekers Roundtable. From banning light bulbs for GE to giant green loans for Dow and LGChem, Green zealot Obama and his corporate henchmen have pursued policies aligned with corporate interests — not consumers.

“You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas,” Akerson said. Trouble is, that attitude will make Akerson’s customers puke too. Is this really good business?

Akerson might have sympathized with his customers at a time when gas prices are pinching incomes and unemployment remains stubbornly high. Instead of explaining the folly of Washington’s ideological 62-mpg-by-2025 mpg fuel economy mandates, however, the Government Motors chief colludes with Washington to siphon even more money from taxpayer wallets.

But Akerson’s outrageous comments are not just harmful for his customers — they make no sense for his company.

Akerson knows full well the reason GM and Chrysler have paid off their government loans early is because fuel prices have declined, boosting the SUV market and their high profit margins per vehicle. America’s low gas prices and high disposable income are why companies like Fiat are so desperate to enter the American market — because they make more money here on Jeep Grand Cherokees than on fuel-taxed, econobox Fiat 500s.

This kind of nonsense has earned Akerson scorn among auto insiders. “This is Dan Akerson live and in living color, folks,” writes veteran industry executive Peter De Lorenzo on his blog, “bringing his remarkable arrogance and nuanced cluelessness to bear on key product decisions that will affect GM’s competitive stance for years to come.”

By dragging America towards a Euro-Asian model, Akerson sets GM up for failure. Green may be politically-correct speak in Washington, but it is bottom-line suicide, especially for a company that is already at a disadvantage against foreign transplants with the UAW in its shop.

“People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans,” with higher gas taxes, says Akerson. But GM makes $8,000 per Chevy Suburban sold and only $1,500 per Chevy Cruze. Does an auto CEO really want to make less money?

One only need look at last month’s sales reports to see how misguided Akerson’s small car strategy is. Skittish over a stalling economy and high oil prices, customers went — not to GM for small cars — but to Hyundai, which saw its sales explode by 20 percent because it can make small cars cheaper than UAW-burdened GM

“Quite simply Dan Akerson is the wrong guy, at the wrong time, at the wrong car company,” adds De Lorenzo. But Ol’ Loose Lips laid one more goose egg before The News interview was over.

“Now, we need practical decisions,” Akerson said, bumbling into the debate over raising the federal debt ceiling. “I think you need to cut the hell out of the budget and you’ve got to increase taxes … on everybody — including the middle class and the rich people.”

Increase gas taxes AND income taxes? Maybe Government Motors CEO is a springboard to a Democratic Senate seat.



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