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December 08, 2008

Awesome! We're Getting A "Car Czar"!

It looks like the Big Rapidly Shrinking 3 automakers are going to get their bailout or at least a $15 billion bridge to the really big bailout they want after all.

It's like the live action version of an Ayn Rand nightmare.

Congressional officials say the lawyer who oversaw the 9/11 victims' compensation fund has emerged as a candidate to be the "car czar" in charge of a bailout for Detroit's Big Three automakers.

Kenneth Feinberg, the special master of the federal Sept. 11 fund, is a contender to run a roughly $15 billion auto rescue and work with the Big Three to restructure their beleaguered companies.

...Under the plan, the carmakers' could get emergency loans on Dec. 15. Then the presidentially tapped overseer — a kind of "car czar" — would write guidelines, due on the first of the year, for a Big Three restructuring. If the car companies hadn't taken enough steps to reinvent themselves by Feb. 15, 2009, the czar could recall the money. That would essentially mean that a person selected by President George W. Bush would set the terms for an auto industry restructuring, but someone picked by President-elect Barack Obama would have the power to decide whether they were being met.

Asked if a deal could be struck for a vote as early as Monday, Perino said, "I think it's very likely." She prodded senior Democratic lawmakers to send their proposal, particularly if they expected initial votes within 24 hours. "It seems pretty soon if we haven't seen the language yet," she said.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the Financial Services Committee chairman, said that he, too, expected a deal by the end of the day on a proposal that would draw emergency aid from an existing loan program meant to help the automakers build fuel-efficient vehicles. House and Senate Democratic aides were finalizing the package, which is expected to provide between $14 billion and $17 billion.

Feinberg seems like a decent and conscientious fellow based on his work administering funds to the victims of 9/11 but can anyone really write a business plan for an industry in three weeks that's going to work? Is anyone appointed by the federal government really going to do what it takes (break the UAW for starters) to even give them a chance to succeed?

Let's just say my level of optimism that this and any future money thrown into this hole will produce a good result is somewhat lower than the ratings for Rossie O'Donnell's recent TV special.

I'm just curious but who looks at the way the federal government has been run for the last say 50 years and says, 'these guys have done such a bang up job we really need to put them in charge of not only the financial industry but the auto industry as well"? Of course, the people actually running these industries haven't done such a bang up job either.

BTW- A late thought on who should be the Car Czar (if you have to have one)...Mitt Romney. He knows the industry, the issues and has a track record of turning around failed and failing enterprises. I'm not saying he'd be able to save them and he certainly won't get the chance but that's who I'd pick.


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posted by DrewM. at 02:39 PM

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