Would The 'Car Czar' Be Too Political?
As Senate Republicans threaten to derail plans for a $15 billion bailout of the country's automobile industry, some are wondering aloud if a proposed "car czar" for the ailing companies would be less of a regulator and more of a political lackey.
This morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) bluntly said the plan wasn't "tough enough" and said "a lot of struggling Americans are wondering where their bailout is," signaling his dislike for some of the watchdog provisions in the legislation.
One of the major sticking points in the bill is the amount of influence, or lack thereof, of the proposed car czar, the industry regulator who would essentially control the purse strings of the government bailout and who could force Detroit's Big Three automakers into bankruptcy.
The critics suggest that the czar would have little real authority over the companies and would be susceptible to influence by lawmakers.
"A bailout would invite all sorts of meddling by lawmakers to have the companies carry out their own sort of pet policies," said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), according to the Wall Street Journal.
Some Republicans, namely Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), spoke of bolstering the duties of the new "auto czar." But in the House debate, Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) derided the czar as an unneeded "bureaucratic" imposition on private business, according to Politico.
Meanwhile, Democrats have been lining up behind former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker as the nominee for car czar job, but the 81-year-old economic adviser to President-elect Barack Obama doesn't meet some of the Republicans' ideal qualifications for the role (namely that he isn't a bankruptcy judge).
But Volcker does have experience; As Fed chairman, Volcker was the lead principal government regulator in the Chrysler Corp. bailout of the late 1970s.
By Derek Kravitz |
December 11, 2008; 3:16 PM ET
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