Monday, June 1, 2009

Our car czar

Steven Rattner is calling some pretty high-level shots for us, the American taxpayers.

Who is he? A Democrat fundraiser with a load of dough. His summer place under construction on Martha’s Vineyard is going to cost $15 million. Not to worry, Steve’s got a nice place in Manhattan while it’s being finished.

Ten years ago Steve was a reporter for the New York Times. Then he got in the money business, finally forming his own investment company, Quadrangle Group.

Now he’s the Treasury Department's special advisor to the auto industry. Like other Obama appointments, Rattner has a cloud over his head regarding a New York State Pension deal.

Enough of the rumors; here’s what Rattner said on March 17th of this year:
“We are open minded about committing additional resources to ensuring a viable domestic car industry.”

“We will bring all the resources of the government to bear on these various stakeholders and try to reach a fair compromise, a set of compromises.”

“Bankruptcy is not our goal nor a desirable outcome.”

“We’re not going to simply hand out dollar bills on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Rattner said, adding that stakeholders might sense “the government will end up solving all problems, and it’s just not going to happen here.”

“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “There are a lot of peoples’ lives at stake here in terms of their careers. I think they’re all entitled to some guidance from us as to how we’re thinking about this, so we’re very much hoping to do that.”

Bondholders “are very effective in looking out for their own interests,” Rattner said.

“I hope all stakeholders will recognize the gravity of the situation and the need for everybody to engage in shared sacrifice, but the government cannot solve all the problems of all the stakeholders in this situation.”

“The UAW has been very constructive and very thoughtful,” Rattner said. “They don’t want to be the only ones giving blood or even necessarily being the first ones giving blood.”

Rattner said that while avoiding bankruptcy is a goal, “certainly there’s been no decisions made.” Nor is the government in a position to dictate to the automakers how many workers to have or plants to close, he said.

“We’re not in the business of running these companies,” Rattner said. “It’s not what we’re paid to do, that’s what management does. Our job is to figure out how the government can be helpful.”

Did I mention that GM filed bankruptcy today? Oops.


  1. I, for one, look forward to riding around in the Trabant v2.0 in a few years.

  2. They'll be called the Sasha and the Melia.