Obama's Auto Double-Talk

As Nick Gillespie bemoans below, the president yesterday put Washington in the business of guaranteeing auto warranties, firing auto CEOs, and dumping still more billions of taxpayer dollars down the black hole of Tomorrowland cars and other autopian vestiges of 1950s nostalgia. What was particularly striking about this announcement of drastically increased federal micromanaging is that it came decorated, like many of Obama's statist economic policies, in nearly opposite language. Some examples:

Year after year, decade after decade, we have seen problems papered-over and tough choices kicked down the road, even as foreign competitors outpaced us. Well, we have reached the end of that road.

We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. But we also cannot continue to excuse poor decisions. And we cannot make the survival of our auto industry dependent on an unending flow of tax dollars. These companies -- and this industry -- must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.

Yet two paragraphs later, he announces that he's kicking the tough choice of adopting a restructuring plan down that very same road, by increasing that unending-so-far flow of tax dollars, and turning beleagured automakers into something very similar to wards of the state. Here's another gem:

Let me be clear: the United States government has no interest or intention of running GM.

Let's be even more clear: in the paragraph just prior, this is the sound of the United States "not running" GM:

They must ask themselves: have they consolidated enough unprofitable brands? Have they cleaned up their balance sheets or are they still saddled with so much debt that they can't make future investments? And above all, have they created a credible model for how to not only survive, but succeed in this competitive global market?

When a president is saving his Stern Voice for declaiming insufficient brand consolidation, then we truly have crossed over into something new. And when the glaring cognitive dissonance between Obama's word and deed becomes detectable to the part of the population currently granting him the benefit of the doubt, the wiggle room for fundamentally reshaping U.S. industrial policy will get smaller in a hurry.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    ...we also cannot continue to excuse poor decisions.

    Remember this in 4 years, Barry.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    "And when the glaring cognitive dissonance between Obama's word and deed becomes detectable to the part of the population currently granting him the benefit of the doubt, the wiggle room for fundamentally reshaping U.S. industrial policy will get smaller in a hurry."

    Yet from the get go Obama's double speak has been fairly easy to see through and he still fenagled his way in to office.

    I'll believe it when I see it Matt. It's hard to fight Ostrich syndrome is 60%+ of the voting public.

  • ||

    Bailing out GM was unpardonable. Now that we're here, this is actually a better rhetoric. The "too big to fail" and "GM will not go bankrupt" talk incentived both labor and capital to hold out for one hundred pennies on the dollar.

    This latest round of double talk from the white house parses out as: "I will totally let GM go under if you don't face up to reality." Backing GM warranties just means "I'm not kidding. I'll turn this car around right now".

  • Mike M.||

    Would you buy a Chevy Camaro from our Used-Car Salesman-in-Chief?

    Me neither.

  • Reader||

    It would have been nice to know Obama's tendencies prior to the election. Did any magazine get it right? If so, please recommend one to me.

  • ||

    Right now, they're trying to act as if they want GM to actually make money, but if GM tries to put the VOLT on the back burner, they'll get a spanking, I reckon.

    Does the world really NEED a fifty thousand dollar electric car which will go forty miles on a charge? You betcha!

  • ||

    I'm so grateful that I'm in an industry that these fucks (so far) haven't had any reason to screw with.

  • TofuSushi||

    "It would have been nice to know Obama's tendencies prior to the election. Did any magazine get it right? If so, please recommend one to me."

    The National Review

  • fyodor||

    He talks about cleaning up balance sheets like it's cleaning up your room.

  • Drum & Drummer||

    "I'm so grateful that I'm in an industry that these fucks (so far) haven't had any reason to screw with."

    What industry is that?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    We should hop in the Wayback Machine and remember all those people who engaged in massive handwringing about how "bad" it would be to vote for the Libertarian Party.

    I hate to say I toldja so...but I toldja so. I can sleep at night...the Obamatarians, OTOH, should be doing the walk of shame and don't deserve to get a call the next day.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Mike M.,

    Careful, buddy. I drive a Camaro. Grrrrrrr!

    As a side note to this Obama-auto relatedness(real word?) . . . YES!!! I KNEW selling my Ford bonds was a good idea back in November! This is totally putting Ford and the other auto makers at a disadvantage! God bless the idiot that paid FULL price for em too!

    Carry on.

  • Naga Sadow||

    P Brooks,

    I don't feel like looking around but I believe the Volt was gonna cost in the range of 30k. Making it totally unviable commercially.

  • Naga Sadow||

    "Totally" is apparently my new go-to word for any adverb I feel like using.

  • ||

    What industry is that?

    Software.

  • ||

    Small, fuel-efficient cars cannot be made profitably by GM with its current pension, healthcare, and union obligations.

    No amount of management changes will alter that reality.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    Totally.

    Oh man, I just had a horrible thought. Chevy's commercials were already dripping with the Americana but can you imagine them from now on?

    Gag me with a fucking spoon.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    A sci-fi fan, libertarian who works in software?!

    Well, whaddya know? Next thing you'll tell me is that there are gay wedding planners.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    "Small, fuel-efficient cars cannot be made profitably by GM with its current pension, healthcare, and union obligations.

    No amount of management changes will alter that reality."

    You're not hoping and changing hard enough there mister. To the camps with you!

  • ||

    Naga-

    The VOLT is a publicity stunt.

    They have been tossing all sorts of lowball MSRP numbers around on that shitbox- I don't think they could make money on them if they sold them for 100K.

  • Pip||

    A good car commercial:

    http://www2.nationalreview.com/video/Bravo_to_Honda.wmv

  • ||

    Well, whaddya know? Next thing you'll tell me is that there are gay wedding planners.

    Are you calling me a wedding planner? Don't make me come over there.

  • Pip||

    Bottom left...

  • ||

    Make that:

    I don't think they could make money on justify producing them if they sold them for 100K.

  • Naga Sadow||

    P Brooks,

    You just need to be injected with a little bit of HOPE! Or in Epi's case, snort a line of CHANGE!

    Aren't they still two years away from any commercial offerings of the Volt? What a bunch of idiots.

  • ||

    "Making money" on them is out of the question.

  • ||

    I despise the Republican party. I don't like what it does in power, I don't like its hypocrisy ("Limited government is great when the Democrats are in power!"), and I don't like plenty of its platform.

    That said, I'll be voting straight GOP in 2010. Probably not in 2012, at least, not for the White House (depending on the candidate, but I'll probably go LP), but this shit has to stop ASAP. And 2010 is the first and best chance to slow the wheels.

  • ||

    Who needs the Volt? We've got Tesla.

  • ||

    I don't think they could make money on them if they sold them for 100K.

    They wouldn't make ANY money if they put a $100K price tag on a small non-luxury electric car. They'd lose money hand over fist.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Yeah right Pro Lib. You're just a sandal wearing rascist! Vote HOPE and CHANGE 2012!

  • T||

    Small, fuel-efficient cars cannot be made profitably by GM with its current pension, healthcare, and union obligations.

    No amount of management changes will alter that reality.


    I looked yesterday. GM has $91B in assets, $177B in liabilities, and negative cash flow. This is a situation bankruptcy laws were designed to cover. You're right, changing management won't make a damn bit of difference to a balance sheet this catastrophic.

  • Taktix®||

    That said, I'll be voting straight GOP in 2010. Probably not in 2012, at least, not for the White House (depending on the candidate, but I'll probably go LP), but this shit has to stop ASAP. And 2010 is the first and best chance to slow the wheels.

    I don't care if the GOP runs Pat Robertson and Sarah Palin's mongoloid kid, if the election were held today, they'd have my vote.

    I'm finding new reasons for rage on an hourly basis. At least under Bush it only happened once or twice a day...

  • ||

    As far as getting "injected with change" goes; I don't play that side of the street, sir!

  • ||

    Did any magazine get it right?

    Nope, no magazine got it right. No magazine put one tenth the effort into vetting Obama that went into vetting the VP canidate Palin.

    Everyone was too busy trying to defeat a guy that wasn't even running.

  • Naga Sadow||

    P Brooks,

    My apologies. I'm hyped on two 180's. Great stuff, plus it says "all natrual" so it must be healthy too!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    But guys! What about all the CHANGE?
    Iraq War Ended Oops, not that one
    Guantanamo Bay closed! - Oh, shit, not that one either
    Ending Corporate Welfare! - Well…no.

    Never mind. Carry on.

  • ||

    I'm still waiting for the UAW to agree to accept Saturn as partial payment to the VEBA.

    I'll be right here, holding my breath.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Banckruptcy!!! Please!!!

  • Mike M.||

    By the way, anyone out there who owns a light truck or SUV and likes it had better maintain the hell out of that sucker, because I predict that by the time we're done with this fascist administration, our auto companies will no longer even be allowed to manufacture them.

  • ||

    Naga,

    Rascist? I'll have you know that I'm not even a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

  • ||

    TAO, you forgot:

    Ending medical marijuana raids

  • stoneymonster||

    Don't blame me: I voted KIRK/SPOCK.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Pro Lib,

    LOL! Indeed. Though you should take my take on the race issue. You can't be considered rascist if all are unequal in your eyes.

  • ||

    It's a good thing Obama is fixing this, because the man knows how to run a business. Really, his plan to turn GM around is brilliant.

    All GM has to do is to have a solid positive cash flow, while returning good value for investors. While doing so, it just needs to ensure that it attains full market competitiveness, while making the necessary R&D investments to ensure that it has the best cars in the world. Also, GM just needs to completely overhaul its manufacturing and retail sales channels, get rid of the bad brands and keep the good ones, and also, to make the most fuel efficient cars in the world. Because according to Obama, "that's what people want."

    Apparently, GM is now being run by a 9th grade Junior Achievemnent class.

  • ||

    The Volt? The Tesla? Both are dead-end technology. The future is in cars like this:
    http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/

  • Drum & Drummer||

    "By the way, anyone out there who owns a light truck or SUV and likes it had better maintain the hell out of that sucker, because I predict that by the time we're done with this fascist administration, our auto companies will no longer even be allowed to manufacture them."

    1994 Ford F-150 4x4 w/351 V8. Just hit 60K two months ago.

  • ||

    Don't blame me: I voted KIRK/SPOCK.

    I voted Meadow Party. "This time, why not the worst?"

  • Naga Sadow||

    Dan H.,

    That's how Obama rolls. He never talks of tradeoffs. He simply spouts out a bunch of stuff that sounds good and apparently no one outside reason and the WSJ call him on it.

  • ||

    Don Mynack,

    I'm a Honda guy, so that's fine with me. So long as it's not a GM.

    However things work out, I think people are going to roll their eyes at President Obama's comments more than they have for any president in history. This guy is so incredibly not-ready-for-prime-time that I think he should resign and join the cast of Saturday Night Live.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Pro Lib,

    SNL would still be unwatchable. Sadly the way MAD tv has gone.

  • ||

    No, no, I see Obama as just what SNL needs. I mean, just think of the publicity when he quits the presidency to become a regular cast member! I see him as a lesser Phil Hartman. He lived in Chicago, so that gives him Second City chops.

  • ||

    "Rascist? I'll have you know that I'm not even a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada."

    This reminds me of something that has nothing to do with this topic, but since when did that matter....

    When I was looking at Orion a couple nights ago, the thought ocurred to me that maybe the reason President Dumbfuck doesn't know how to pronounce Orion is that it isn't visible from Indonesia or Ihateamerikastan or whereever it is he spent his youth. But I did some reading and that isn't it. Orion is visible from both hemispheres. It is upside down when viewed from the southern hemisphere. Maybe they call it something else in Indonesian?


    Back on topic, lol, the famous Obama "Let me be clear" followed by complete bullshit. It just keeps getting better.

  • Jr. Capitalist||

    Apparently, GM is now being run by a 9th grade Junior Achievemnent class.

    Um, those 9th graders have more business experience than Dear Leader.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Pro Lib,

    I refer such decisions to the Uber Troll, Urkobold.

  • JB||

    Nearly every word that comes out of this skinny bitch's mouth is a lie.

    Fuck Obama.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    " What was particularly striking about this announcement of drastically increased federal micromanaging is that it came decorated, like many of Obama's statist economic policies, in nearly opposite language"

    Yes that is a hallmark of the Obama modus operandi and he does it often.

    His words are merely meant to obfuscate what he'e actually doing by attemping to make it sound as if he's doing the opposite.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Back on topic, lol, the famous Obama "Let me be clear" followed by complete bullshit. It just keeps getting better.



    I see how this could be a great bit for good comedians doing Obama -

    "Let me be clear - I hired Senator Clinton for her diplomacy skills, and not because she's a belching vagina that will make me look good in comparison."

    "Let me be clear - when I said that we would guarantee GM warranties, I had no idea what pieces of shit they were."

    Like the above, only funny.

  • ||

    Oh, by the way: Obama can be mocked by humorists, can't he? I seem to recall some saying he was beyond humor. Post-humor, if you will. Wrong!

  • ||

    Haven't you heard?

    Laughing at the Presidential Suit is RACIIIIIIIISSST!

  • T||

    Laughing at the Presidential Suit is RACIIIIIIIISSST!

    Huh. Inexperienced moron is a race now? Who knew?

  • ||

    Naga, you might think about getting a taller set of wheels if you want to make it work this spring. Obama has about two more months of saying one thing and then doing the opposite before the moderates finally figure him out.

  • Geotpf||

    Um, you guys do realize that the two main choices Obama had here were...

    1. Give Chrysler and/or GM money forever and ever amen

    or

    2. Tell them to get their asses in gear or they get to die in a fire

    ...and he choose the more libertarian of the two?

    Just checking.

  • ||

    I would have preferred

    3. Send flowers (and the Vice President) to the funeral.

  • ||

    0. Laughed and laughed at GM's and Chrysler's outstretched hands, while indicating that America would be fine with Japanese manufacturers stepping up to the plate to "save American jobs."

  • economist||

    "I hate to say I toldja so...but I toldja so. I can sleep at night...the Obamatarians, OTOH, should be doing the walk of shame and don't deserve to get a call the next day."

    I beat you to the punch about a month ago, AO. I have called, for one, for every reason writer and contributor who endorsed Obama to take the walk of shame (except for Chapman, who should be banished).

  • Mitch Hedberg||

    "Totally" is apparently my new go-to word for any adverb I feel like using.

    I say totally too much, so I need to find a new word to replace it.

    Hey Mitch, do you like sun chips?

    All encompassingly!

  • Sarah||

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Sarah

    http://www.craigslistposter.info

  • ||

    I see him as a lesser Phil Hartman. He lived in Chicago, so that gives him Second City chops.

    Maybe Obama can set himself up as the left-wing counterpart to Stephen Colbert.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement