Akerson (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Washington — General Motors chairman and CEO Dan Akerson met with dozens of lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Thursday, telling the automaker is performing well as he offered a "report card" on the company's performance.
Akerson is trying to improve the Detroit automaker's reputation in Washington. The company was the target of political attacks in the presidential campaign, as some Republicans sought to criticize President Barack Obama for the $85 billion auto bailout.
"We weren't on any ballot last year, but we seem to be in every campaign," Akerson told reporters after the 90-minute session with lawmakers. "We're a commercial enterprise and our job — this generation of management's job at General Motors — is to transform the company into the 21st century."
Akerson said the "report card" he delivered — an oral presentation — was received well by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.
"We've made tremendous financial progress. We've made great product progress. We've taken systemic risk out of the business and GM's future today is much brighter than it had any right to expect four years ago," Akerson said, who called the meetings "fruitful and beneficial."
GM wasn't seeking any action from Congress on any specific issues, Akerson said.
Four years ago, GM's CEO was Rick Wagoner, and the company was trying to win additional bailout funds from the Obama administration. The White House auto czar fired Wagoner in late March 2009 and ultimately agreed to add about $30 billion to the bailout as part of the company's bankruptcy reorganization.
Akerson brought the new 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray — a gray coupe version — and dozens of members of Congress and staffers ogled it outside the Capitol Hill Club.
Akerson met with Michigan's U.S. Sens. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and most members of the Michigan delegation and other auto states. He also held a separate meeting with members from Indiana.
Even Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who has been critical of GM at times, came by to take a look at the Corvette. Issa is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform.
Akerson told lawmakers about some of GM's accomplishment since its 2009 restructuring.
GM earned $23 billion 2010, has secured $11 billion investment grade credit line and reduced U.S. pension obligations $28 billion. The automaker has invested $8.1 billion in 34 U.S. plants and created or retained more than 23,000 jobs since 2009.
"It was more than reassuring," said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak. "GM is scoring touchdowns. Those days (of politics around the bailout) are over. I think people are very much looking forward."
Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, said GM "is making great cars, the jobs are there, people are happy. It bodes well," he said. "It makes me feel good about all the hard work we did to save the American auto industry."