Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Auto Talk

Looks like Hank Paulson is back in the news.

"WASHINGTON — The White House and the Treasury are deep into negotiations with General Motors andChrysler over reorganization plans that could result in freeing up more than$14 billion in emergency loans to keep the companies afloat through the first quarter of 2009, according to industry executives and a senior administration official...
...In the negotiations, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., is effectively taking on the role of “auto czar,” which was envisioned in the carmakers rescue bill written by the White House and Congressional Democrats and approved by the House but blocked by Senate Republicans."

I've made a number of posts about Paulson recently, and I thought it was time to check out his resume. So I went to that most trustworthy of all sites, Wikipedia, and took a gander at his page.

I'm glad I did! His career is quite impressive: football player at Dartmouth, as well as Phi Beta Kappa and an English degree (apparently, you CAN make money with an English degree), MBA at Harvard, assistant to John Ehrlichman during the Watergate scandal (which got Ehrlichman convicted and sent to prison), and then of course the career at Goldman Sachs.

But I didn't find the one thing that I was looking for. Maybe Wikipedia dropped the ball on this one, but I was sure I'd see a reference to his years as an analyst in the auto industry. Or maybe even a line or two about his days as a successful CEO of Ford, or some small reference to when he worked as a designer during the golden days of Detroit. 

I was doubly surprised because with all the talk out there of how ole Hank is "taking on the role of 'auto czar'", you'd think they'd update his page to reflect his deep reserves of knowledge and expertise in these areas. The White House is going to let him decide what to do with $14 billion, and if I know one thing about the current president, it's that he would never entrust large sums of money like that to someone who wasn't over-qualified to handle it. 

Of course, Hank has other qualifications for this kind of work. He's given away nearly $350 billion with a series of confidence-crushing, flip-flopping decisions in which he injected huge amounts of pessimism in to the financial markets. Smaller men would have tried to hide their incompetence, but Hank found a way to rise above the petty crimes and find a way to screw things up in such a massive and blatantly unapologetic way that he was instantly inducted into the Bush Administration Hall of Fame. 

Still, wasting taxpayers money on cars is a different animal altogether. I hope that he's up for the challenge.

The was another quote in this story that caught my eye:

“Because of the failure by Congress, we’re left with suboptimal options,” said Tony Fratto, the deputy White House press secretary. Cautioning that no decisions had been completed, Mr. Fratto added, “We’ll do what is in the best interests of taxpayers and the national economy.”

I am so happy that someone is going to step up and do Congress' job. When Congress does not pass a bill, it's a prima facie failure. You would think that after 232 years or so, we'd be able to figure out a way to make Congress pass bills every time something happens, but until we do, it's a good thing that the Bush White House is there to do what Congress can't.

Now, some people might say that Congress was performing it's Constitutional function, but I say that something needed to get done, and the fact that there weren't enough votes to pass a bailout for auto-makers is not enough to keep this president from doing what he knows is best. After all, this is a man who has consistently been on the right side of almost every major issue, and has been convincingly elected in a way that Congress never has, and, most importantly, he'll be in office for years to come and will be able, in his usual inimitable fashion, to take responsibility for how this all turns out.

I can't wait!

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