Steve Rattner, via the New York TimesEnlarge Photo
Just a few months into his tenure as President Obama's "cars czar", Steve Rattner has resigned from the federal auto industry task force. Little detail has been given about the step-down, which, in its Palin-esque way, seems to have taken many by surprise. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made the announcement to the press, saying that "with GM's restructuring complete, Steven Rattner, whose leadership and vision were invaluable to the auto task force's efforts, has decided to transition back to private life and his family in New York City."
It's entirely possible that Rattner had signed onto the task force gig solely for the duration of the bankruptcy proceedings, which are now essentially over -- and which, to Rattner's credit, proceeded more quickly than nearly anyone thought possible, meeting the shockingly swift timetable set by the feds. However, Rattner may also have been stung by critics in Congress and the general public who denounced not only the Chrysler/GM bailout, but also the federal government's alleged use of strong-arm tactics to push those restructurings through the courts, over numerous objections from investors, dealers, and other stakeholders.
Following in Rattner's footsteps is Ron Bloom, a man with credibility in the industry who seems like the sort of guy well-suited to, as Geithner put it, "assume leadership of the task force's activities as the government transitions its role away from day-to-day restructuring to monitoring this vital industry and protecting the substantial investment the American taxpayers have made...." Perhaps one day we'll know the truth behind Rattner's abrupt departure -- in fact, knowing the man's sense for making money, we wouldn't be surprised if a book deal were already in the works.