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Federal hypocrisy revisited

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Manny Lopez

Federal hypocrisy revisited

I rubbed my eyes and read it twice.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner actually said on Wednesday that the Obama administration wasn’t getting involved in management decisions at General Motors Corp.

No, really. He said that.

"It’s a difficult balance. Our objective is to make sure we help facilitate a restructuring that leaves this firm in existence. … We’re doing exceptional things to make that possible. But I do not believe we can do that and also be involved in making decisions about how they run their business," he said.

Tell that to Rick Wagoner.

Or the guy who changes oil in the service department — at any of the nearly 2,000 auto dealerships that are losing their franchises at GM and Chrysler LLC — whose job was just eliminated because the government says the Detroit automakers weren’t making cuts fast enough, regardless of whether they were.

The absurdity of the statement both enrages and enlightens — again.

President clearly involved

See, Geithner’s comments follow those of his boss from a few weeks ago when the president insisted the federal government was not interested in running Detroit’s automakers despite giving them $19 billion — and subsequently forcing Chrysler into bankruptcy just weeks before it seals GM’s fate the same way.

Make no mistake, the Obama administration is actively involved as is the president regardless of the denials coming from the White House.

"I do not believe anyone did what you suggest," Geithner told Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., when he asked if the administration had threatened secured lenders to get them to forgo their legal claims to money, despite unsecured lenders like the United Auto Workers getting far better deals.

While we’d all like to believe that coercion and intimidation is absent from politics and especially from the office of the president, do they really take us all for fools?

The rubes (that’s us) outside the beltway could never see that GM and Chrysler are getting leaned upon by the White House or that business decisions are being made by bureaucrats.

Government in control

Clearly, the domestic auto industry wasn’t going to survive without help and it willingly accepted the government’s largesse. But that comes with high costs, not the least of which is taking orders from people whose sole automotive experience comes from sitting behind the wheel of a sedan.

If there is one thing that is evident, it is that the government is involved and that it relishes its role in control.

That’s dangerous for Detroit because government can’t pick winners and losers. Well, it can’t pick winners.

But that’s where the auto companies are today and the feds aren’t just along for the ride, they’re driving blind.

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