The President just fired the CEO of General Motors. He's telling Chrysler to merge with Italian carmaker Fiat (whither Pat and Nick's All-American Auto Mall?). And he's tapping the TARP to back the warranties on new GM and Chrysler cars. (FDIC for cars? Well, at least the TARP money is backing working folks' purchase of cars and trucks rather than financial abstractions).
Tell me if I'm wrong, but these are pretty radical steps, aren't they? Whether they are the right steps is open for debate, but Obama's current actions to save the auto industry seem like about as big a departure from the status quo as we can get without nationalizing Detroit. Now if we could just see similar forcefulness from the Administration toward the bankers and brokers who are getting even more of our money and not producing results, we might get this recession licked!
By the way, Mike Madden at Salon.com notes that GM CEO Rick Wagoner isn't even getting a nice severance package: "officials say he'll be kept on, in some harmless position, at his $1 annual salary, so taxpayers don't wind up on the hook for the multimillion-dollar pension he'd be entitled to otherwise." Ouch!)
Cranky conservatives were pushing the "Obama = used-car salesman" meme before 2008; maybe now they can have fun portraying the President as a new car salesman. Actually, Obama's take-charge turn is winning praise from some conservatives, who would rather see the controlled burn of bankruptcy than a possibly bottomless bailout.
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