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Bush Considered Faster GM, Chrysler Bankruptcies

Former co-auto czar outlined options in memo to incoming Obama Administration.

by on Jan.23, 2012

Pres. Obama with former co-auto czar Lawrence Summers prior to the January 2008 inauguration.

In the end, the two failing automakers got enough cash for a temporary reprieve, the outgoing Bush Administration punting the problem of how to save General Motors and Chrysler to its successor, Barack Obama.  But a lengthy memo from former National Economic Council Director Lawrence H. Summers to the president-elect reveals Pres. George W. Bush gave serious consideration to accelerating the move to put GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy.

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The 57-page memo is revealed, for the first time, in the New Yorker magazine’s website.  Summers, who also served as co-auto czar for the new administration, penned the note on December 15, 2008, four days before Pres. Bush authorized the payment of $17.4 billion to the two makers.  He approved $25 billion for the makers and their equally troubled captive finance arms before the Obama Administration took office a month later.  In all, the automotive bailout would ultimately reach $85 billion.

The memo covered far more than just the automotive bailout, noted New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, who termed the document, “the ur-text for economic policy-making for the Obama Administration.”