Gov’t Conflict of Interest on Chevy Volt Probe?

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica last night discussed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation of the Chevy Volt fires with Gerri Willis on the Fox Business Network. Here’s a transcript:

Gerri Willis:  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, says the Chevy Volt, the controversial electric car the Obama administration has touted as a major step forward, step forward towards a green future is perfectly safe to drive. But does the government have too much of a vested interest in the Volt?  Joining us now is Mark Modica from Philadelphia, of the National Legal and Policy Center associate fellow. Welcome to the show, Mark. It’s great to have you here. Look, we can trust NHTSA on this, right? I mean, they are a federal agency. Do you disagree?

Mark Modica:  Yes, considering that their boss, President Obama, has a vested interest in the vehicle. I mean, Gerri, the guy is basically campaigning based on the success of General Motors and the Chevy Volt.  So the conflict of interest is just obvious particularly as they refuse to exit the taxpayer stake in GM. They are just doing whatever they can to help General Motors out and promote the Volt. And it’s a little hypocritical and ironic that Akerson there the CEO of General Motors, is complaining that the criticisms of the Volt are based on politics since this vehicle has been nothing but about politics since its roll-out.

Gerri Willis:  Well, I’d agree with that. It has been about politics, that’s for darn sure, Mark. Let me tell you it’s a pretty serious criticism to levy against the federal government that they’re willing to have consumers injured or even die just to put forward a political idea. You stick by it?

Mark Modica:  Well, you know, the evidence is there that NHTSA waited over five months before disclosing that there was a fire. And that was only after a Bloomberg report hit that said that that fire existed. So there just seems to have been a double standard with how they treated the Toyota investigation and how they treated the Chevy Volt. And if you want more evidence, just look at statements that came out of NHTSA before the investigation was complete or even began. They said the car is safe. Electric vehicles are just great, and they’re not as dangerous as conventional vehicles. And they didn’t even start the investigation and they declared the car safe. How can you do that?

Gerri Willis:  Wow. Interesting. OK, so you have said that GM has had a culture of deceit since the bailout. What do you mean by that? Another heavy charge.

Mark Modica:  Well, you know what? Anybody who’s followed GM has seen this. Starting with the bailout, the Obama administration’s auto task force had a stated goal of restructuring General Motors and Chrysler outside of bankruptcy. The head of that task force, Steve Rattner, has admitted that they had never intended to do this outside of bankruptcy. What they intended to do was plan the bankruptcy, and then they were going to blame the bondholders for GM going bankrupt by not agreeing to a deal that was designed to fail. So it was very deceptive. Most Americans didn’t follow the story and realize it, but we were all basically lied to about the true intent of the task force. There was never any plans of doing this outside of bankruptcy. That was all designed to just take…

Gerri Willis:  Well…

Mark Modica:  … it was a wealth redistribution from bondholders and shareholders and taxpayers to the UAW, and you know, the cronies of the Obama administration.

Gerri Willis:  Well, we’re going to give a chance for the GM CEO to have his say. GM CEO Dan Akerson had this to say.


Dan Akerson: We engineered the Volt to show the world what great vehicles we make at General Motors. Although we loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art safety features, we did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag. And sadly, that is what it’s become.


Gerri Willis:  Sadly true, but sadly, I mean, look…

Mark Modica:  Yes.

Gerri Willis: … if we’re going to give out…

Mark Modica:  I’ll tell you what, Gerri…

Gerri Willis:  … taxpayer dollars to buy this vehicle, which, by the way starts at forty thousand dollars, who are we backing here? Who is getting this taxpayer credit, this money from the taxpayers to buy this vehicle that is in question?

Mark Modica:  Well, it is sad because taxpayers are paying seven thousand five hundred dollars to reimburse wealthy purchasers of the Volt. The average income of the people who buy this is over a hundred and seventy thousand dollars. So I guess the Obama administration feels the wealthy should pay their fair share, but not if they’re buying Chevy Volts. So these people can afford the car. That’s great. If they like the car, that’s great. Nothing against the Volt. But if you have the money, purchase it without other taxpayers paying for it. Representative Mike Kelly has a bill he introduced to kill that seven thousand five hundred credit, and people should be supporting that. And it’s even more egregious when you look at hundred thousand dollar Fiskers and Teslas. This is crazy, for taxpayers to have to pay for the wealthy to buy this thing.

Gerri Willis:  You know, and what’s funny is that at the dealership, they don’t even want these cars because they can’t sell them.

Mark Modica:  No.

Gerri Willis:  So they’re trying to turn them back. Mark, it’s great to have you on the show. Thanks so much for coming on. Smart stuff.

Mark Modica:  Thanks, Gerri.

Gerri Willis:  Hot stuff, sir.

Mark Modica:  Good to be here.

Gerri Willis:  All right, Mark, thank you. We’ll be right back.