Steve Rattner isn’t known for being soft-spoken, and he proves it in his new book, “Overhaul,” an insider’s look at the desperate – and highly controversial — effort to save General Motors and Chrysler with more than $60 billion in federal bailout money.
While Rattner downplays the legal problems he’s run into since leaving the White House auto task force, he dishes on virtually everyone he dealt with during his six-month stint, from President Barack Obama to the man who just this week took over as GM’s fourth CEO in less than two years, Dan Akerson.
The bailout of the two Detroit makers actually began during the waning days of the Bush Administration. But once Congress made it clear it wouldn’t authorize the money needed to keep GM and Chrysler afloat, the politically-charged football was tossed into the lap of the new president.
It landed there only a week after the November 2008 election, and at the first sit-down with his advisors where the topic was broached, Barack Obama wasn’t exactly in Detroit’s court. “Why can’t they make a Corolla,” the President-elect asked.
If anything, Obama is portrayed as a calm and level-headed boss by “Overhaul,” Rattner writing that the president “had the air of a man in the business of calmly executing.” One of the more colorful descriptions the one-time auto czar offers up is the image of the “T-shirts and jeans worn by unshaven, sockless men,” debating what to do next during weekend meetings at the Oval Office.