Instead of a car czar, Barack Obama and Tim Geithner have settled on a committee to manage the domestic auto-industry bailout. But do the members of the team have an issue with American automobiles? No more than the rest of American drivers:
The vehicles owned by the Obama administration’s auto team could reflect one reason why Detroit’s Big Three automakers are in trouble: The list includes few new American cars.
Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department’s special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three.
Only two of eighteen own American cars? Include the Treasury Secretary and Obama economic adviser Larry Summers among import aficionados:
Geithner owns a 2008 Acura TSX, registered in New York. He once owned a 1999 Honda Accord and a 2002 Acura MDX, according to public records. … Summers owns a 1995 Mazda Protege that’s registered in Massachusetts. He previously owned a 1996 Ford Taurus GL.
The people tasked to rehabilitate the American auto industry and convince Americans to fund that rehabilitation largely avoid their products. That certainly sends an interesting message, although one in consonance with the buying public. It underscores the reason Detroit is in trouble — people with the funds to choose buy other products. They can’t solve their economic problems without solving that problem first.
But this could be a stroke of genius, rather than a disaster on the optics. Would we trust people who bought Detroit’s product to tell both the automakers and labor the truth about their predicament? A panel of skeptics sounds like a better idea than a panel of true believers.