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Republicans call Obama's Care of Car Industry "Wasteful"

By Automotive Staff | February 09, 2009
We assume that you have been keeping track of the stimulus bill as it winds its way through Congress. They say that making a bill is like making sausage. It ain’t pretty. The give and take and partisanship can make anyone sick. Much of what is in the stimulus package concerns the auto industry. For some reason or another, the Republicans don’t like it. Take, for example, a provision to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles for government use. The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, calls that wasteful spending. He says it will cost $600 million to buy the new cars. Wait a minute. Wasteful spending? The government would be replacing cars that are less fuel efficient. The way we figure it, there’s a savings there. Moreover, those cars that will be purchased by the government will have to be made by somebody. Oh, we guess that puts people to work. And the auto industry needs to boost its sales. Oh, the government has a large fleet of automobiles. What a potential customer! And, oh, just like everybody else, the government will continue to turn over the fleet. Oh, more sales in the future. We guess Senator McConnell has something here. Other provisions in the bill that would affect the auto industry include $2 billion for advanced battery research, an increase in the number of plug in electric vehicles that could qualify for up to $7,500 tax credit to 500,000 units, $300 million to replace or retrofit diesel engines and $400 million to help states and local governments buy more efficient alternative fuel vehicles. There are other auto issues that are not in the stimulus package that President Obama will have to address. For one thing, he has to name a car czar or team of officials to oversee the re-tooling of the American auto industry. Some names have already been floated. There is Stephen Girsky, a long time auto industry analyst who directs a private equity firm. His experience includes serving as a consultant to General Motors and an adviser to the United Auto Workers Union as they were seeking federal loans. He has met with Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi to talk about auto issues. Another possibility for the post of czar is Steven Rattner, a partner in the private equity firm of Quadrangle Group. Wait a minute. Why are private equity people being considered for the post of car czar? Is that because Cerberus has done such an excellent job running Chrysler? We don’t understand why business people who have proven to be good managers are not being considered. Why not seek someone from the auto industry itself who has proven to be successful during these tough times. Say like the CEO of Fiat or the head of the Nissan-Renault alliance. Or consider someone in a field that depends heavily on the development of new technologies. Let’s think out of the box on this. via Detroit News
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