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.