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Head of Auto Task Force Steps Down

Posted: Jul 14, 2009 11:31 a.m.

Steven Rattner, head of President Obama's auto industry task force, has resigned from his post overseeing the government's efforts to boost the struggling U.S. auto industry.

The Detroit News reports, "Rattner, a former Wall Street financier worth more than $188 million, is stepping down after nearly five months in Washington."  Rattner oversaw the bankruptcies of both Chrysler and General Motors, as well as heavy government investment in auto finance giant GMAC.

The Wall Street Journal notes, "Rattner's unexpectedly swift departure as the nation's car czar is winning him some early kudos for his work salvaging GM and Chrysler."

However, he is leaving as questions about his work in other sectors have arisen.  The Washington Post notes, "A probe into how the private equity firm he co-founded gained New York pension business has intensified."

The "car czar" post didn't stay vacant for long. CNN Money reports, "Ron Bloom will become the administration's top auto adviser." Bloom, known as a turnaround specialist with experience in several high-stakes bankruptcies, "is a former investment banker who worked as an adviser to the United Steel Workers union before joining the Obama administration."

The task force still has work to do.  Jalopnik comments, "the real work only begins now," as the task force will shift its focus to "trying to recoup the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on saving the not-so-Big Three."

CNN Money notes, "Rattner conceded last week in a conference call with reporters that it will be difficult to recoup much of the government help that flowed into the auto industry, particularly the more than $23 billion given to GM and Chrysler before their bankruptcy filing. But he said he hoped that government stakes in both companies would eventually recapture some of that money, even if he conceded that the government's intention to sell those stakes as soon as possible worked against getting the best possible return."

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