General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson met with dozens of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, telling them the automaker is performing well as he offered a “report card” on the company’s achievements.
Akerson is trying to improve the Detroit automaker’s reputation in Washington. GM was the target of political attacks in the presidential campaign, as some Republicans sought to criticize President Barack Obama for the $85 billion auto bailout.
“We weren’t on any ballot last year, but we seem to be in every campaign,” Akerson told reporters after the 90-minute session with lawmakers. “We’re a commercial enterprise and our job — this generation of management’s job at General Motors — is to transform the company into the 21st century.”
Akerson said the report card he delivered — an oral presentation — was received well by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. GM isn’t seeking action from Congress on any specific issues, Akerson said.
Four years ago, GM’s CEO was Rick Wagoner, and the company was trying to win additional bailout funds from the Obama administration. The White House auto czar fired Wagoner in late March 2009 and ultimately agreed to add about $30 billion to the bailout as part of the company’s bankruptcy reorganization.
Akerson brought the 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray — a gray coupe— and dozens of members of Congress and staffers ogled it outside the Capitol Hill Club.
Akerson also met with Michigan Sens. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and most members of the Michigan delegation and lawmakers from other auto-dependent states.
Even Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who has been critical of GM, came by to take a look at the Corvette. Issa chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has criticized executive pay at GM after the government bailout.
GM earned $23 billion 2010 and has invested $8.1 billion in 34 U.S. plants and created or retained more than 23,000 jobs since 2009.
“It was more than reassuring,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak. “GM is scoring touchdowns. I think people are very much looking forward.”
Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, said GM “is making great cars, the jobs are there, people are happy. It bodes well,” he said. “It makes me feel good about all the hard work we did to save the American auto industry.”