Bailout Watch 171: Obama Eyes Georgetown Egghead for U.S. Car Czar

bailout watch 171 obama eyes georgetown egghead for u s car czar

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 Chevrole t). 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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  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Nov 13, 2008

    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.

  • Bailoutblogger Bailoutblogger on Nov 13, 2008

    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:

  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.