By on February 5, 2009


An increasing number of media reports are indicating that instead of a single “car czar,” Obama will appoint a team to oversee the auto industry turnaround effort. Current reports indicate that Democrat fundraiser Steve Rattner will likely take the top oversight position, but his total lack of (non-political) qualifications for the job is considered an issue. Which is where Stephen Girsky comes in. “They clearly need an adviser who knows the industry,” former Chrysler president Thomas Stallkamp tells Bloomberg. “Girsky certainly knows the industry, and he was close to both GM and the union.” And though I have questioned whether Girsky’s UAW affiliations are best described in the past or present tense, this 2004 presentation (PDF) to Original Equipment Suppliers Association is decidedly prescient. Especially for 2004. And this December 2008 presentation to UAW Local 14 seems to indicate that his recent advising stint with the UAW was a mission of truth and reconciliation rather than one of conniving and obfuscation.

Of course, no matter how TTAC-ish Girsky is, if he’s answering to a wannabe media mogul who just happened to raise $100k for Obama, there’s no knowing what the result might be. Especially considering that Rattner is embroiled in a dispute with Chrysler’s and GMAC’s owner (Cerberus) over a $125m loan his private equity fund received from Cerberus to purchase Maxim Magazine. Seriously. “It’s crazy,” one surprised source familiar with the money squabble tells the NY Post. “Cerberus is about to foreclose on the loan to Quadrangle, and now Steve Rattner is going to be the boss of Cerberus.” Crazy indeed.

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4 Comments on “Bailout Watch 374: Obama Admin Favors Multiple Car Czars...”

  • avatar

    Buy a three-year subscription to Maxim and get a free Sebring?

  • avatar

    “An increasing number of media reports are indicating that instead of a single “car czar,” Obama will appoint a team to oversee the auto industry turnaround”

    Team, eh? Are Larry, Moe and Curly still available?

  • avatar


    During a briefing today at the Presidential Transition Team headquarters, Obama Transition Co-Chair John Podesta announced the strictest, and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history. The rules are:

    • Federal lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.
    • Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.
    • If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.
    • If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the Transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the Administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.
    • A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.

  • avatar

    Hmmm, car czar…

    Isn’t the CEO of the company supposed to be the leadership of a corporation’s fortunes? Do we really gov’t oversight except to protect our tax money given to the yahoos in Detroit?

    Suggestion to Mr. Obama – skip the big gov’t and let these companies survive or die all on their own. No more gov’t layers necessary. No more gov’t bailouts. No more major gov’t oversight.

    Don’t want massive unemployment but death of the large corporate automakers is likely inevitable. We might delay it but I think they are too culturally corrupt to really change.

    I suppose massive auto industry unemployment would be preferable later when the rest of the economy is healthier might be better. The Depression era yielded 25% unemployment. Our state is already predicting 10%+ later this year.

    Do we feed the Wal-Street / corporate interests endless amounts of money our children will be working to payoff or do we send it to the people directly where a most of us will do good things with it (even if a good portion will do stupid things with their checks). Or – do we let it all alone to sort itself out without gov’t checks? Again the rich come out on top no matter what.

    Will my family be buying a new car anytime soon? Nope b/c a $20K new car a decade ago was just too expensive. I’d rather drive $6K used cars with all of their ummm, “character”. MUCH cheaper than depreciation and initial cost. It is clear that a whole group of Americans think spending $30K on a new vehicle that they have to finance for 72 or even 84 months is not (was not) crazy. To each his own until they undermine our economy and take my family’s fortunes with them down the drain.

    I question if the auto industry has spent too much time, energy and money shaping legislation so it favored their business than they have building really great cars. Too many loopholes, too many complicated schemes, too many laws to keep out import competition.

    Perhaps they should unify Europe’s laws and our laws so the big three finally have a better line of small cars to offer their American customers. Of course they might not want to open the door to companies like Fiat, Renault and Citroen or Skoda.

    Perhaps they should have unified their dealer structure a decade ago so that every dealer was a full line GM dealer so GM could have cut out the duplication of products.

    Perhaps this is the beginning of their end – again – and only fresh ideas like what Saturn was supposed to be will save the big three. Maybe they will have to build products that people can afford without 72 or 84 months of financing. They’ll have the shrink their corporate bloat so they don’t need as much revenue to keep the lights on. Imagine – a quality product for $14K that made them a fair profit.

    Maybe it is time that all of those organizations from the top to the bottom need to re-evaluate what “a fair wage for a fair day’s work” really means again. $40K per DAY for the top guy might just be too much. Read that again – that’s $40K PER DAY! PER DAY!

    Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of the American love affair with the automobile and the beginning of a period where we consider life without the automobile as our tie to our towns.

    Seriously consider that we drive 4000 lb vehicles to haul our 250 lb selves around. We all spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each lifetime to drive a vehicle. More for new or large vehicles. I love my vehicles – I have four – but I’d rather have money to travel with or to really have a nice house (paid for) than buy new vehicles constantly. You can be impressed when you see our patio (appreciating asset) instead of what I drive by in (depreciating asset unless it is a vintage vehicle).

    Maybe this is the beginning of a lasting wisdom for our generation where people begin to consider the cost of owning a vehicle for a lifetime and how they might rather spend that wealth. Maybe this is the part where we consider what our lifestyle costs us and how this might need to change as the global economy directly puts the cost of doing business here in competition with the cost of doing business everywhere else.

    Imagine each generation helping the next be mortgage free from the get-go. If credit ever dried up permanently this is the only way our children could have a home. My Italian friends operate this way. I think it is a great way to go.

    Maybe the industry as we know it needs to wither and lose it’s choke hold on the American roads so that alternative ideas can take root. Of course cars and trucks will continue to be an important way of modern life here and other places but maybe this is the period where we begin to diversify how we move ourselves and our stuff around. Maybe the GEM cars won’t seem so silly regardless of what the cost of a gallon of gasoline costs. I wouldn’t mind driving a GEM style vehicle for 10 miles this way or that if the rest of the traffic was similar. That said I’d prefer a vintage Beetle or a vintage Fiat 500 converted to electric drive rather than a GEM. The GEM is really ugly… VBG!

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