Tester grills bailout chief about G.M. supporting foreign jobs over American jobs
Clark Fork Chronicle
Sen. Jon Tester today grilled a top government official in charge of overseeing the taxpayer-funded bailouts, pushing him to hold General Motors accountable for “supporting foreign jobs over American jobs” after taking a $50 billion bailout.
During a Senate Banking Committee hearing this morning, Tester told Herb Allison, the Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Stability, that GM “basically sold our workers down the tube” when the company canceled its palladium contract with Montana’s Stillwater Mining Company.
Stillwater is America’s only producer of palladium, used to build catalytic converters in vehicles. After receiving its $50 billion bailout, GM this summer canceled its palladium contract with Stillwater, choosing instead to purchase the metal from South Africa and Russia.
Tester said the decision has significantly hurt Stillwater Mining Company, which employs 1,300 people in south-central Montana.
Tester was the only Senate Democrat to vote against both the Wall Street Bailout and the bailout of the auto industry last year, in part because he wasn’t assured the money would be used to create American jobs.
“I have a level of frustration in that GM—with taxpayer dollars—has chosen to use to do business with a mining operation that has very little environmental restrictions and very poor wages,” Tester today told Allison.
Earlier this week, Tester asked GM, 60 percent of which is now owned by U.S. taxpayers, to make public its palladium contracts with foreign companies. GM has not yet responded to Tester’s request.
“I don’t think they’re private contracts anymore because this company’s owned a fair amount by us—the U.S.,” Tester said today. “So the question is, who can hold their feet to the fire? Or am I shouting into the wind blowing in the wrong direction?”
“I think you’re holding their feet to the fire right now by raising this issue as effectively as you are,” Allison responded. “I will take your concerns back with me and discuss it with my colleagues.”
Tester visited the Stillwater Mining Company twice in August. Video of Tester’s questioning during today’s Banking Committee hearing is available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZtKBtG0JHs.