Fact Checking the Fact-Challenged Obama Auto Bailout Czar

October 18th, 2012 8:37 AM

Ex-Barack Obama Administration $82 Billion Auto Bailout Czar Steve Rattner has a bit of a problem telling the truth.

What Rattner does not have is a problem with the Jurassic Press Media calling him on his serial flights of factual fancy.

Former Auto Czar Contradicts Docs: (Claims) Obama Admin Not Behind Delphi Pensions Scandal

Obama’s Former Auto Bailout Czar Is Rewriting History

So is that $19.4 billion lost before the bankruptcy - plus $23.6 billion lost after the bankruptcy? For a whopping total taxpayer auto bailout loss of $43 billion?....

This is the same Steven Rattner who late last year reportedly paid a $10 million Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fine and accepted a two-year ban from associating with broker-dealers or investment advisers. For an alleged “pay-to-play” New York stat pension fund kickbacks scheme he orchestrated after leaving Washington and his Czar-ship.

Just this week he sat down for an interview with Reuters TV.  Matthew Goldstein - Reuters’ Editor, Wall Street Investigations - graciously provided him an open channel (get it?) to spout several things about bailed-out General Motors (GM) that are fundamentally untrue.  Bereft, of course, of any follow-up veracity analysis.

Don’t worry about it, Mr. Goldstein - we’ve got this.  Here are some relevant Rattner transcript excerpts - interspersed with actual facts and examination provided by us.  Because Mr. Goldstein wasn’t providing any.

Mr. Rattner:

“I don’t think any of us fully anticipated the entrenched nature and the lack of a rapid-fire quick response kind of management culture.”

GM losing billions and billions of dollars year after year throughout the last decade-plus didn’t clue you in to that possibility?  Those entrenched losses and the looming bankruptcy didn’t point at least in part to an entrenched, sloth-like management mindset?

Where was your due diligence in examining GM - before handing them $50 billion of our coin? 

Back to Rattner:

“But ironically the real problems that GM are having today are the opposite of the problems that put them into bankruptcy in the first place.”

Totally untrue. Rattner, Obama and Company went out of their way to preserve large swaths of GM’s pre-bankruptcy problems.

A single dominant factor — the United Auto Workers union’s extortionate contracts with GM — prevented the carmaker from either reducing its work-force costs or making its products more efficiently. And its hidebound management didn’t help.

President Obama’s unique (GM bailout) contribution was effectively to nationalize the company, seeing to it that the federal government violated normal bankruptcy processes and legal precedent to protect the defective element at the heart of GM’s troubles: the financial interests of the UAW.

More Rattner:

“It’s the problems in Europe....”

Totally bogus.  GM Europe (Opel) has been losing billions and billions of dollars year after year throughout the last decade-plus - it is not a new phenomenon. 

And why is GM still straddled with Opel?

Overlooked is that the value-destroying, cash-sucking disaster that is GM Europe was packaged and ready for sale to new European buyers in 2009 before the new Obama GM Board of Directors slammed the brakes on the deal, throwing GM into its current value free-fall. 

In fact, the decision to not sell the Opel operations (which has not been profitable for more than a decade) in 2009 after GM cleared bankruptcy was the very first major decision of the new Obama Board. Had Opel been sold, GM stock would be much higher than it is today.

More Rattner:

“Would it be nice if (GM) sold a few more (Chevy) Volts?  Sure.  But the Volt is irrelevant to the profit-loss line of General Motors.”

Sure it is - because We the Taxpayers have subsidized the living daylights out of this auto abomination. 

Obama’s $5 Billion Gives Electric Vehicles a Slow Jolt

And then on top of that we cut a $7,500 bribe incentive check to every purchaser.

Government Motors has outsourced the Volt losses - to Government.  To us.

And when Government Motors isn’t outsourcing its losses to Government - they’re selling cars to it.

Government Motors Inflates Sales by Selling to...the Government

More Rattner:

“Would I like (GM) to have more cutting edge products?  Yeah.  But, but is this company or the industry going back to the days of crazy incentives and over-bloated inventories on dealers’ lots?  No.”

Well, the Volt is allegedly a cutting edge product.  Is GM offering “crazy incentives” to sell them?

‘Record’ Volt Sales?  Not Really -- GM Counts $159 Leases for an $89,000 Car

Well, Mr. Rattner, that sounds pretty crazy.

“Over-bloated inventories on dealers’ lots?”

GM Shuts Down Chevy Volt Production Again

Best Sales Since 2007 Overshadowed by GM’s Unsold Pickups

One reason is dealership lots...are overstocked with trucks.

And in harmonic convergence of “crazy incentives” and “over-bloated inventories on dealers’ lots”:

GM Could Be Forced to Offer Discounts on Big Pickups

It has a four-month supply, and it wants to reduce that to three months worth by the end of the year, according to the News. That means it may turn to discounting to unload the trucks....

And on, and on, and.... 

Good thing we were here to pick up Reuters’ and the rest of the Press’ considerable Steve Rattner slack.