Have you seen that new GM commercial? The one with the upbeat music, where CEO Ed Whitacre proudly states, "That's why I'm here to announce we have repaid our government loan - in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule."
If that line caused you to raise an eyebrow, you're not alone. The media has been all over GM for the claim (which, ironically, appears in a commercial titled 'Trust'). GM has paid off loans from the federal government, but the U.S. Treasury is still GM's majority shareholder at a cost of approximately $50 billion. Critics say GM's repayment actually came from another government bailout program. One TV commentator described it as "paying off your MasterCard with your Visa".
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, alleging deceptive advertising. GM says it is "confident that our ad meets the FTC's guidelines". We'll have to wait and see how this one plays out.