Planet Gore

‘Hands-off’ Obama Vetoed GM HQ Move

A new book by White House auto czar Steven Rattner reveals that the White House was hands-on in day-to-day GM decision-making even as President Obama fibbed to the public that “our goal is to . . . take a hands-off approach, and get out quickly.”

The Washington meddling ran the gamut from personnel decisions to financing options to a veto of GM’s proposal to abandon its Detroit headquarters, Rattner discloses in Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry.

GM proposed moving out if its Detroit’s Renaissance Center HQ to its sprawling suburban tech center, arguing that the move would save money and would symbolize a commitment by top brass to be more involved in the company.

But the “hands-off” White House snuffed the idea, opting to protect Detroit — a key political constituency of the Democratic Party. “Are you out of your mind?” Rattner quoted Brian Deese, who has been heavily involved in auto policy, as saying. “Think what it would do to Detroit.”

The Detroit News has the details:

The White House even commissioned an outside analysis of the impact a move would have on Detroit property values, Rattner wrote. The answer: an estimated “double-digit hit on already deflated real estate prices.”

Leaving the RenCen “made a lot of strategic sense,” Rattner wrote. But Michigan native Gene Sperling, a U.S. Treasury Department official, was one of many who fought the idea.

“It’s over for Detroit if you do this,” Sperling yelled in a meeting, Rattner recalled. “Don’t do this to (Detroit Mayor) Dave Bing… He’s a good man trying to do a good thing.”

The request was passed up the chain to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, “and word came down that the move would be a bridge too far,” Rattner wrote.

Henry Payne — Henry Payne is the auto critic for the Detroit News.

Most Popular


Holy Week with Saint Paul

Just the other day, I ordered a replacement copy of The Passion of the Christ -- it can be so impactful for Holy Week meditation. In the years since its release, it’s become something of required Lenten viewing for me. But this year, there is a new movie to help with prayer, Paul, Apostle of Christ, released ... Read More
White House

Bill Clinton Redux

Stormy Daniels could have stepped right out of the 1990s. She would have been a natural in a Bill Clinton scandal, and, in fact, all the same means would have been used against her. Donald Trump’s tactics in these cases are almost indistinguishable from the Clintons’. The effort to shut down the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

California’s Pro-Nuclear Renegade

If California’s upcoming gubernatorial race gets decided solely by money, Michael Shellenberger doesn’t have a chance. The latest campaign filings show that Shellenberger, an environmentalist from Berkeley, has about $37,000 in cash on hand. The frontrunner in the June 5 California primary, Lieutenant ... Read More

Encouraging Signs in Iraq

Last year, relations between the Iraqi central government and the Kurds reached what was possibly an all-time low when the Kurds held an independence referendum in which 93 percent of voters opted to secede. The timing was no coincidence: Iraqi forces had retreated from Kurdish territory in 2014 as the Islamic ... Read More
Film & TV

Superannuated ‘Idol’

In the pilot episode of Fox’s American Idol, Simon Cowell defined the show’s thesis: “We are going to tell people who cannot sing and have no talent that they have no talent. And that never makes you popular.” The show’s producers and its three judges -- Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson -- kept ... Read More