Paulson as ‘Car Czar’
When Senate Republicans last week blocked Democrats’ efforts to bail out General Motors and Chrysler, which say they’re near bankruptcy, the White House was quick to swoop in to announce that it would lend the help that Congress didn’t.
Aside from the comedy surrounding that development (the Bush administration’s original refusal to help the automakers was the only reason that Congress took up legislation to begin with), there’s now concern that the administration will manage Washington’s latest bailout attempt as poorly as it did the last. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) shot a letter to President Bush last week urging the White House to insist on certain conditions and concessions from the companies in return for the help:
The Administration must now require, as a condition of receiving those taxpayer funds, the same tough accountability and shared sacrifice by all parties –- executives, unions, suppliers, creditors, dealers, bondholders, and shareholders –- mandated in the bipartisan legislation passed by the House this week.
The New York Times reports this morning that the details of the deal are still being worked out, but Treasury Sec. Henry M. Paulson Jr. will take on the oversight responsibilities. GM has said it needs $10 billion to get it through March, while Chrysler would need $4 billion to survive the same stretch.
On CNBC earlier this week, Paulson said “failure by these companies at this time is not something any of us want to contemplate.”
There was no word how any of the bailout’s terms will address the larger reality that Amercans aren’t buying cars now from anyone.