|March 16, 2009|
|Of Course Semi-Bailed-Out Car Companies Are Still Lobbying|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Just as Captain Renault was “shocked” to find out there was gambling going on at Rick’s Café in the movie “Casablanca,” the Washington Post is shocked that the semi-bailed-out auto companies are spending money for lobbying in D.C. |
“Carmakers Lobbying as They Get Bailout Money,” screamed a headline in today’s WashPo in a piece written by Kendra Marr, who nosed around federal lobbying records and found that General Motors and Chrysler spent a combined $7.3M in fourth-quarter lobbying outlays. Egads!
Marr quoted Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, who believes "lobbying against consumer and environmental protections is wrong.” Count me in on consumer and environmental protection, but the car companies are responsible to their stakeholders (and taxpayers) to put their own two cents into any bill that will may shape their future.
And as Linda Becker of Chrysler told Marr, “There is a significant, ongoing demand from legislators and government officials for education and information on Chrysler, its operations, products and future plans, including promoting advanced technology that responds to the nation’s energy needs.” That effort costs money. One can call it lobbying money. It is money well-spent.
There is another communications brouhaha shaping up on the communications scene in D.C. The move to shift jurisdiction over tobacco advertising from the Federal Trade commission to the Food and Drug Administration under the proposed Family Smoking and Prevention and Tobacco Control Act has adland howling.
The American Advertising Federation says the shift will “authorize unprecedented and unconstitutional restrictions on advertising such as prohibiting colors and pictures and mandating even greater portions of advertisements be given over to government-mandated warnings.”
Clark Rector, AAF’s senior VP/government affairs, gets it right. Though tobacco ads are not everybody’s cup of tea (including mine), they are protected by the Constitution. Rector says if the First Amendment only protects what lawmakers like, the First Amendment is pretty worthless.
What’s next? Is a government crackdown on auto ads in the works? Will car companies be restricted to only promoting their most fuel-efficient models?
Uncle Sam should keep his hands off advertising/PR as long as the spots provide consumers with truthful information.
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