Given congressional approval ratings, it's no wonder that those who love cars are a bit worried that President Obama's secretive Automotive Task Force will begin directing product development at General Motors in the not to distant future. Could the Automotive Task Force be the iceberg that does GM in for good?
You can imagine it happening, especially because President Obama is committed to directing social change from Washington, D.C.
Thankfully, Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press did some digging that may allay some fears. His story cites an unnamed source close to Automotive Task Force who reportedly said, "The government is not going to prevent GM from making every type of vehicle it can sell profitably. The goal is to put the company in a position to succeed."
To a reasonable person this would mean if trucks are popular, GM can continue to build and sell trucks. Ditto for Corvette and Camaro. (That sound you hear are sighs of relief from car lovers across the country.)
However, there are two ways to think about the situation. One is to believe the above, and that all the government wants is to be paid back for the loans it made, with interest.
The alternative is to believe that the government will make it impossible for GM to repay its federal loans (as it has done with many banks), thereby ceding ownership and control of the manufacturer to the government. Bureaucrats who believe they know what's best for the country and its citizens will certainly favor the latter option, and would actively engage in politics that could bring it about.
At this point, as our own Richard Read pointed out earlier today, GM is headed to bankruptcy court because bondholders want a fair deal (imagine that). This condition may make it easier for Washington to ultimately take control of the company, if that is in fact, the goal of some powerful law makers.
Let's hope it's not.