On the very day that Barack Obama announced new fuel efficiency and emissions limits for American cars, Reuters reported that when General Motors goes bankrupt it would be selling its best asset to … Barack Obama.
Fair is fair.
If Obama owns GM he can tell them what kinds of cars to build, at what prices they should be sold, how many seats the UAW should have on their board of directors, and just about anything else he thinks of while eating his morning bran flakes.
In 1953, Charles Erwin Wilson, then GM president, was named by President Dwight Eisenhower as Secretary of Defense.
When he was asked during the hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee if as secretary of defense he could make a decision adverse to the interests of General Motors, Wilson answered affirmatively but added that he could not conceive of such a situation "because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa."
After what we learned yesterday, in a very real sense: What's good for General Motors IS America.
According to the Reuters piece, the government will extend a line of credit to the company it owns, and will forgive the $15.4 billion in loans it has already provided to the company it owns. If you own something, it just makes sense to forgive the debt to yourself.
Obama will be able to hire and fire executives; decide which dealerships can remain and which must close; how much union workers (and everyone else) should be paid; how much suppliers can charge, and everything else that goes along with owning a major manufacturing company.
He will also determine how much, if anything private lenders - banks and bondholders - will get when GM goes belly-up. Forget about that pesky, quaint business about the sanctity of contracts. That was the old way. This is the new way. This is the OBAMA WAY!
If "change" is what America voted for last November, then "change" is what we're getting.
At some point someone is going to file a suit in Federal court asking for clarity as to just where in the U.S. Constitution it is provided that the Executive Branch can buy a bankrupt car company.
Actually, this might be a good thing for Republicans. When a faceless corporation - or worse yet - a faceless and heartless bankruptcy court - closes down thousands of dealerships in thousands of towns, it's hard to know where to aim your ire.
When the support for the local Jaycees, or the high school cheerleaders, or local churches, or any other of the dozens of local charities and organizations which benefit from help that car dealerships provide in the way of advertising, donations, and being a local community's best corporate citizen vanishes; to whom do you send the angry e-mail?
Now we know. The Owner: Barack Obama.
After Barack Obama takes control of GM, you should Twitter him and tell him what you think about closing your local dealership. Or send him an Instant Message on his Blackberry. Or just call the White House: 202-456-1414.
You think closing military bases have an impact on the comfort zone of Members of the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate? Wait until Mayors and County Commissioners figure out the number of people who will lose their jobs and how much property tax revenue will disappear.
Wait until local newspapers and radio stations total up the advertising dollars which will evaporate and the toll on their employees. See how long the media's love affair with Barack Obama, the owner of General Motors, lasts.
I think it would be a good idea for every town losing a dealership to mount a phone-call campaign to their Member of Congress and ask what they intend to do to reverse that decision.
The number of the Capitol switchboard is: 202-225-3121. When they answer, ask for your Congressman. They'll connect you.
I know absolutely nothing about the automobile business. I've never understood any part of it. On those rare occasions when I have purchased a car, I walked in; saw something I liked; made an offer; paid what they asked for; and assumed I'd been taken advantage of.
But, at the end of the transaction, I had the car I wanted and the dealer got the price he or she wanted. And I always had the option of walking out.
Now that every GM dealership is going to be owned by the Federal government, you might not just have to haggle over the price; you might well have to explain to the on-site IRS agent just how you can afford that new, shiny, 30-miles-per-gallon Obamamobile on the crappy salary you've been reporting for the past five years?
What's good for General Motors is good for … nothing.