The Obama Administration has announced the Car Czar is out and an automobile task force is in. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers will oversee a new panel charged with overseeing the government bailout of GM and Chrysler.
This move comes a day before the two car companies are scheduled to submit restructuring plans to the government. Presumably, this task force will be involved in approving the plans and monitoring the companiesâ€™ progress.
Whether the task force is a better idea than a car czar all depends on how Geithner and Summers prioritize their new responsibility. With the hundreds of billions in government money spiraling through the economy, the money wrapped up in the auto bailout may not get the administrationâ€™s full attention. Then again, a single czar is easy to marginalize and, if Obama couldnâ€™t find the right person for the job, a multi-official task force seems the better option.
The failure of GM and Chrysler would significantly add to the nationâ€™s growing unemployment rate. For this reason alone, I suspect the new task force to take their responsibility seriously and do what they can to make sure the billions in bailout money is not squandered. The question is: can such squandering be avoided, no matter the diligence of government overseers? Even with the massive loans, there is no guarantee GM and Chrysler can survive. Time will tell if weâ€™ve used taxpayer wisely or if weâ€™ve thrown good money after bad.