By on November 12, 2008

Automotive News [sub] reports that Georgetown University law professor Daniel Tarullo may be president-elect Barack Obama’s choice for U.S. Car Czar– should such a thing be deemed nceessary. You may remember Tarullo as a world-renowned expert in the design, manufacturer and marketing of automobiles worker bee for the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. No? Special Assistant to the Undersecretary of Commerce. No? Chief Counsel for Employment Policy for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. No? Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. No? Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. No? Assistant to the President for International Economic Policy. No? Jeez, you really should get clued-in here! Tell you what, read Tarullo’s testimony to The Subcommitee on Security and International Trade Finance, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affair’s hearing on Reforming Key International Financial Institutions for the 21st Century. And then tell me Tarullo isn’t a car guy, if you’re still conscious. Meanwhile, I want to have a little rant about the dangers of creating a Car Czar…

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi’s letter to Senator Paulson begging for bailout bucks for their union supporters’ employers set forth the idea that the U.S. government could take an equity stake in American automakers in exchange for our largess. The car czar idea is a logical outgrowth of that idea.

Has anyone (other than TTAC’s Best and Brightest) considered the ramifications of the feds owning a stake in an American automaker? For example, let’s say the EPA wants to tighten-up this or that regulation. The EPA Director’s phone rings. Car Czar on line 1. “Listen, I know it’s a great regulation and all, but it’s going to hurt my guys. We would really appreciate it if you could, you know, modify the rule a bit. An exemption? Of course not. But I’m sure you’ll do what’s best for the American taxpayer. See you on the links.”

Or imagine that the feds are negotiating a trade agreement with South Korea (the country that used to make Aveos for Chevrolet). The Car Czar has a bit of disagreement with the agreement. Would like to see South Korea’s car market open up for “his” companies’ products. The Secretary of State’s phone rings. By the same token, do we want to give the unions yet another one of Uncle Sam’s arms to twist?

And so on. If you think it won’t happen, then answer this question: if the car czar DOESN’T interfere with the government on behalf of the automakers, why bother with a car czar? To tell the automakers what to do? Sure, more consolidation of power at the top is EXACTLY what Detroit needs. Not.

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19 Comments on “Bailout Watch 171: Obama Eyes Georgetown Egghead for U.S. Car Czar...”

  • avatar

    I recommend Senator Kennedy. He has experience driving automobiles off of bridges. (See Chappaquidick).

  • avatar

    There seem to be a lot of “Czars” popping up in the Obama administration. I know other presidents have had “Drug Czars” and such, but he seems to be piling on. Al Gore for “Climate Czar” is another I have heard mentioned among others.

  • avatar

    I recommend Senator Kennedy. He has experience driving automobiles off of bridges. (See Chappaquidick).

    Given the state of the Big SQRT(8), that would seem appropriate.

  • avatar

    Hopefully Obama is smart enough to realize that if this bailout becomes hostage to the Democratic party’s normal constituencies and it fails, he will have it hanging around his neck come election time.

  • avatar

    @ boofie59:

    Obama’s smart enough to hang everything that goes wrong in his two terms around Bush’s neck.

  • avatar


    I hope you are right about O-president being a smart guy, but he definitely looks drunk on victory. There are 4 years till next election and real recession ahead of him. He subscribed to every opinion and politico from Chicago area, except economic department of U of Chicago.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, the U Chicago economics department ain’t what it used to be. Austin Goolsbee, who is from U. Chicago has been advising Obama and preaching some rather left wing stuff, especially versus what usually comes from U. Chicago.

  • avatar

    That anyone’s even seriously thinking that the federal government needs an “Auto Czar” tells me that the days of free market capitalism are numbered in America.

  • avatar

    And then tell Tarullo isn’t a car guy, if you’re still conscious.

    I think we could use big-thinking egghead right about now.

    Idiots abound in the 2.8’s inbred management genepool (see the winner of TTAC’s First Annual Bob Lutz Award), and if that other bunch of idiots (congress) decides to write another $25,000,000,000.00 (+) check of OUR money to bail out the domestics, I want to see a 21st century business plan come out of it.

    I’d rather it went through bankrupcy once and for all, but the car czar idea isn’t terrible.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    We should find out if this guy actually even drives a car.

  • avatar

    @Casual Observer

    Parking in Georgetown is worse then in Manhattan! Probably not, why party bureaucrat would drive?

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    We couldn’t get State and Defense to agree on a joint political-military strategy for the occupation of Iraq as follow-up to a WAR. What makes you think a Car Czar will have any clout with counterpart agencies?


  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Parking in Georgetown is worse then in Manhattan! Probably not, why party bureaucrat would drive?

    Why shouldn’t Washington subsidize my transportation costs? Joe Biden’s daily Amtrak commute from Wilmington to DC is subsidized by taxpayers.

    Most of Amtrak’s riders are in the DC to Boston corridor and many of them can well afford personal transportation or airlines. How many billions has the rest of America spent subsidizing those riders? I wonder how many of those riders oppose a Detroit bailout.

  • avatar

    Is this car tsar just a temporary Bailout/Restructure Advisor?
    -Or would he be a persistent figure in the top Admin?

    If #2, then Not Good.

  • avatar

    Just what does this guy drive? If it’s an RS4, he could be an interesting choice. Of course, if it’s a Camry, the UAW might wanna print up some pickets…

  • avatar

    The problem with a car czar is that he (or she) will pander to every special interest group from enviro-nuts to the UAW and to hell with the customers.

    Although it’s fashionable on this forum to disparage Bob Lutz, I think he would make a pretty good car czar. Once free of GM, he would no longer have to shill for them. And he has a record for developing neat cars, beginning with the Viper. Certainly, he would be preferable to a pointy-headed policy wonk who believes his mandate is to produce socially responsible personal transportation modules and force them on an unwilling public.

  • avatar

    Perhaps there’s a “community activist” out there who would make a good “car czar”.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Here’s the nasty reality no one seems to realize…

    The politicians are going to be given an inordinate amount of responsibility over the auto industry during the next few years. Like it or lump it, the very survival of the industry has effectively become a lobbying tool within congress.

    On one side you have the self-serving special interests within the industry. On the other you have another self-serving group, the politicians, who really know nothing about it. Personally I don’t blame em’ on that one since they effectively have to vote on thousands of items where they have little to no genuine insight.

    So what do you do? Find someone with insight who isn’t beholden to all those wonderful fiefdoms within the universe that is the Detroit Big 3.

    Like everyone else here my first choice would have been me. But being a tightfisted bastard isn’t what get things done down at the Beltway.

    Oh, and Czar Nicholas wants his title back.

  • avatar

    Anyone who has spent time in metro-Detroit knows that thousands of small and medium sized companies depend completely on the auto companies for their very existence. This is not just bailing out bloated auto companies with exorbatant operating costs, its really helping millions of Americans who work for affiliated companies. There is some good information about the bailout at:

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