Free Markets, Free People
Throwing the BS Flag (Update)
The usual suspects have blamed the usual suspects in the GM bailout:
Austan Goolsbee, a senior economic adviser to President Obama, said the administration’s options were sharply limited by President Bush’s handling of the auto industry, and accused the prior administration of running out the clock.
“They shook up the can. They opened the can and handed [it] to us in our laps,” Goolsbee said on Fox News Sunday.
“When George Bush put money into General Motors, almost explicitly with the purpose — how many dollars do they need to stay alive until January 20th, 2009, there was no commitment to restructuring, to making these viable enterprises of any kind,” said Goolsbee, who serves as staff director and chief economist of the Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
All of that is probably true, but the BS flag is thrown at the implication that the Bush administration left them with few options such that it had to funnel more and more bailout money into GM.
There was a clear second option – back off, tell GM that bankruptcy and restructuring are the best option and let the system take care of it. But they didn’t. They made the case that GM was “too big to fail” and that the “downstream impact” in terms of unemployment was unacceptable.
The continued bailout had two outcomes that the Obama administration wanted but won’t admit. One – they got a majority equity stake in the company. And they manipulated the bankruptcy proceedings to preserve that majority.
Secondly, it saved the jobs of a favored special interest group, the UAW, until such a time they too could be handed an equity stake in the “new” company through the manipulated process.
Without the Bush administration’s bailout, none of that would have been possible. And, of course, previous to taking office, Obama had lauded the handling of the GM problem.
So the Goolsbee blame shifting is more than nonsense, it’s nonsense on stilts.
UPDATE: Keith Hennesy, a member of the Bush administration who dealt directly with this subject and the incoming Obama administration throws a very detailed BS flag of his own. [HT: Rick Caird]