Two people briefed on the plan say General Motors Corp. will close most of its U.S. factories for up to nine weeks this summer because of slumping sales and growing inventories of unsold vehicles. The people did not know exactly when the shutdowns would occur, but both say they will include the normal two-week closure in July to change from one model year to the next.
But just yesterday, the Associated Press reported that GM spent $2.8 million lobbying Congress — nearly $1 million per month — in the first quarter of 2009, which is actually 15 percent less than it spent on lobbying in the final quarter of 2008. GM also said this week that “it is completing the layoff of 3,400 white-collar workers in the U.S.”
“We’re a part of what is arguably one of the most regulated industries and provide a voice in complex policy discussions. We meet strict reporting requirements and our spending is reflective of the breadth of issues that affect our business,” said GM spokesman Greg Martin. But it’s worth asking: How many days could GM keep some factories open with that money? How many workers could have earned just a little bit more in wages if that lobbying hadn’t occurred?