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Is This What President Obama’s ‘Change’ Looks Like?

Posted by Larry Doyle on January 12, 2012 9:50 AM |

While driving my truck this morning and listening to Bloomberg Radio, I almost gagged on my coffee and pictured my vehicle lurching into a ditch.

What caused my knee jerk reaction? Let me set the table as to what I heard, what prompted my thinking “You have got to be kidding me”, and why I feel compelled to write this commentary today.

I believe it is a foregone conclusion that the Republican Party will critique the Obama administration for failing to bring meaningful “change” in how Washington operates. I am not so sure the Republicans should be so quick to play that card.

In a similar fashion, we already see political interests from both ends of the spectrum attacking Mitt Romney—whom I believe is the presumptive Republican nominee—and the tenets of free market capitalism embedded within private equity and venture capital.

In an attempt to parry the critique of his administration and his ability to bring real change to Washington, President Obama was on the stump recently in his hometown of Chicago. As Newsmax reports, Obama Gathers Cash at Chicago Events as Republicans Campaign:

Obama sought to fire up his supporters by reciting a list of accomplishments, including bailing out the auto industry, revamping the U.S. health-care system, withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and launching the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

“Because of what you did in 2008, we’ve begun to see what change looks like,” Obama said at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

President Obama and more so those on the ground involved in the elimination of bin Laden deserve huge credit. However, let’s refocus on the change brought to the auto industry.

While the administration would define “change” as a reinvigorated auto industry, what about the means used to achieve those ends? Did the administration trample the rule of law and basic free market principles and standard bankruptcy proceedings to achieve those ends?

Given that this topic will be a main point of debate in the Presidential election, I would ask if the means utilized to save the auto industry is what “change” looks like for President Obama, his administration, and our nation as a whole?

Let’s go back to those fateful days in early May 2009 when I wrote:

“One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House.”

That’s a quote, folks, from a lawyer representing firms which lent Chrysler money on behalf of their clients, including pension funds, teachers, labor unions, college endowments, et al.

Threatening creditors may be common practice in the underworld. In the world of business and politics, commonly accepted rules of law, business practices and ethics are widely accepted and adjudicated by the courts to prevent abuse. Did the White House just abuse the Constitution in the process of engaging Chrysler’s non-TARP creditors? Tom Lauria, an attorney with White & Case representing a few non-TARP Chrysler creditors, believes the White House did exactly that.

Lauria offers, “I represent one less investor today than I represented yesterday. One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under the threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation.”

Wow!!! Is the press corps so in bed with the White House that it will do its dirty work? Will other creditors fall in line under the pressure of this threat? Is Lauria’s analysis credible?

I believe the answer to all of these questions is yes!!

In my April 2009 Market Review: Brave New World I wrote:

Companies, consumers, and investors will be forced to adapt to a regular presence of Uncle Sam. He is not a good business partner.

I am not making this stuff up.

Is threatening creditors and having the press do one’s dirty work as the means to an end what “change” has come to look like for this administration and our nation as a whole?

As a registered Independent and one who embraces free market principles in the promotion of investor education and investor protection, I look forward to debating how we all may define change in America going into the 2012 election and beyond.

Oh, by the way, that photo at the beginning of today’s commentary? That is none other than Steven Rattner, the car czar for the Obama administration. He has also displayed himself as being ethically challenged. How so? Last we checked in with him in April 2010, he was settling charges brought by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the SEC for his involvement in a ‘pay to play’ scandal.

For those interested, you can read more about this at Steven Rattner’s “Conduct Was Inappropriate, Wrong, and Unethical”.

Hmmm . . . “change”? It would seem Mr. Rattner’s involvement as the car czar could be placed under the heading of “the more things ‘change’, the more they stay the same.”

You can’t make this stuff up!!

Questions, comments, constructive criticism encouraged and appreciated.

Larry Doyle

Related Sense on Cents Commentary
Statement from Non-Tarp Lenders to Chrysler; (May 1, 2009)

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets, our economy, and our political realm so that meaningful investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.


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