No ‘car czar’ in Bush bailout for carmakers

WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday opted against appointing a “car czar” to oversee the $17.4 billion bailout of U.S. automakers, handing oversight responsibility to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson instead.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sat 20 Dec 2008, 8:58 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:11 PM

Paulson’s office oversees the source of the rescue money—the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief (TARP) program passed by Congress in October and originally designed to help the banking industry.

Joel Kaplan, deputy White House chief of staff, said that with a month to go before Barack Obama becomes president, the administration’s priority was to set loan terms and get the bailout for General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC out the door.

He said the Bush White House would be open to identifying someone to work with the companies and span the two administrations if the Obama team believes it would be helpful.

“We don’t think that’s something that we should impose ... just for 31 days when the next administration may or may not have a different view about how they want to handle it,” Kaplan said.

The “car czar” proposal was a cornerstone of failed bailout efforts in Congress last week.

An Obama transition official said the White House kept the president-elect informed of its auto plan deliberations but that Obama was not part of the decision.

The president-elect, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, told a news conference in Chicago that the auto companies over the next several weeks and months are going to have to “make some hard choices” and must “come up with a plan that is sustainable.”

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