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GM, Chrysler Beef Up Lobbying, Despite Government Ownership

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The government's attempts to impose safety and environmental standards on automakers is being thwarted by the very car companies it, in part, owns.

General Motors, 33 percent government-owned, and Chrysler, nine percent government-owned, partnered with other automakers this week to lobby against fuel efficiency rules proposed by the federal government, the Washington Post reports. Last year, automakers lobbied against stricter safety regulations helping stall the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 in the Senate and preventing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from getting the necessary power and funding to protect consumers.

Environmental organizations, safety advocates and watchdog organizations are disappointed in the government for not using their power to prevent the automakers from getting in the way of passing environmental and consumer protection laws. Ralph Nader told the Washington Post:

"Even when the government owned 61 percent of General Motors, the company was arguing against government proposals on auto safety and pollution controls," said consumer advocate Ralph Nader. "As the owner of the world's second largest auto company, the government could really have made the company a model."

While GM was getting bailed out by the government, the car company did scale back it's lobbying in Washington, firing outside consultants but keeping it's inside team, Roll Call reported.

But in the fall of 2010, as the Detroit automaker prepared to make one of the largest initial public offerings in US history, it was also quietly rebuilding its D.C. lobbying force, formerly one of the top 15 lobbying powerhouses in the capital, The Hill reported.

Since bailing out the big-3 automakers, the U.S. Treasury has been vocal about its decision to not get too involved in managing the car companies, according to the Washington Post.

While consumer advocates and others criticize the government for allowing the automakers to influence legislation, Reuters reported findings from the Congressional Oversight Panel that the Treasury's hands-off stance, influenced by the Obama administration's eagerness to cut ties with the auto industry, potentially lost money for taxpayers by not fully vetting their settlement with Chrysler Financial last year.

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