GM might not have realized when it took $58 billion in bailout money that it would now be beholden to members of Congress, who have been acting like 535 new board members as they angle for their constituents' (and their own) interests. Dems and Republicans alike have pressured companies to keep unprofitable factories open, and several have persuaded GM to reverse closure orders on dealerships in their districts. "When GM took federal dollars, they lost some of their autonomy," one GOP congressman tells the Wall Street Journal.
In one case, a GM dealer in West Virginia who received a closure notice promptly called Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who brought him to Washington and introduced him to the CEO. The dealer got a reprieve, one of 70 won through government intervention. One Montana rep made his interests clear: "I was elected to represent the interests of Montana, not General Motors, which is something that GM should have considered before letting the federal government assume control of their company."