From NBC's Luke Russert
In a press conference comprised of Toyota dealers from around the country, who are in Washington to defend the auto manufacturer against what they deem to be "unnecessary fears," Paul Atkinson, chairman of the Toyota National Dealer Council implied that the U.S. government has actively been promoting General Motors products in an effort to make money off of Toyota's recent safety issues.
"I'm proud to be a Toyota dealer," Atkinson said. "I'm proud to represent 1,250 Toyota dealers but more importantly, I'm proud to be an American citizen. I pay my taxes as an American citizen every year to the government. I woke up one day and I realized my government was now in competition with me as an entrepreneur, I look around and they own the majority of two companies that we do business with and compete with. Now I find out that my government takes part of my taxes that I pay to them and are giving some of those tax dollars that I give to my fellow American citizens encouraging them to NOT do business with Toyota. So I ask you what is wrong with that picture and that is what the next few days is all about."
Asked if he was "suggesting the government is promoting GM over Toyota?" Atkinson responded, "They were the first to come up with the program where they offered the customer a $1,000 incentive to trade in their Toyota product at a GM plant. Yes, they were the first to do and that and several other manufactures have followed. Yes, that is hard for me as a citizen to understand why my tax dollars are going in that direction to compete with the government from the individual entrepreneur.
"That is pretty tough, one of the things we got to do is get government out of our business."