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The Triumph of Crony Capitalism

by Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard

First President Bush, then President Obama poured billions into General Motors and Chrysler to keep the companies alive but barely breathing. That was just for starters. Next came Obama’s creation of an Auto Task Force to oversee the auto companies. To head the task force, the president picked Steve Rattner, a Wall Street investor with no experience in automaking but lots in raising campaign money for Obama and Democrats.

GM and Chrysler were quickly restructured, mostly to the benefit of the United Auto Workers, the union which spent millions in 2008 to elect Obama and Democrats. The UAW now owns 17.5 percent of GM and 55 percent of Chrysler–quite a return on an investment of zero dollars. Obama said all parties should “sacrifice,” but only bondholders did. They got a fraction of what they were legally entitled to receive. UAW retirees, in contrast, got a gift of $9.5 billion at GM and $14.2 billion at Chrysler.

There’s an epilogue. Delphi, the auto parts manufacturer once owned by GM and still its biggest supplier, has been in bankruptcy for four years. To acquire its assets and run the company, Delphi and Obama’s Auto Task Force picked an affiliate of the private equity firm Platinum Equity. There was no auction or competitive bidding, though Platinum stands to make millions in the deal. Why Platinum? The UAW favored it, sources said.

There’s a name for all this: crony capitalism. Obama insists he believes in capitalism, but it’s not the free market variety that he’s been promoting since he became president. Obamanomics is a different strain entirely.

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July 7, 2009 Posted by | Bailout | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments