Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A General Motors Warranty From The US Government

Wow - Dana Milbank has a quite sarcastic piece in today's Washington Post, in which he takes Obama to task for becoming the country's "car salesman in chief."

Milbank -- as is typical with his columns -- relies mostly on direct quotes to convey his point that this is a highly unusual use of Presidential leadership:

'"If you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like always," the president promised yesterday morning from the executive mansion. And that's not all, folks! "Your warranty will be safe," the salesman in chief went on. "In fact, it will be safer than it's ever been, because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty."

... Perhaps the president can interest you in a Chevy Malibu? "In 2008, the North American Car of the Year was a GM," he pitched. And the Buick Lucerne is a real cream puff. "This year, Buick tied for first place as the most reliable car in the world," he declared from behind the presidential seal.
'

Later in the day, according to Milbank, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs kept up the car-sales schmooze:
'"No person that goes out today to buy a Jeep -- which I love to drive, I used to have a Jeep -- if somebody wants to go buy a Jeep, they should not hesitate to do so, because that warranty will be insured. . . . If somebody wants to go buy, as the president said, the Motor Trend Car of the Year, they can go do that."'
I cannot imagine why the administration wants to get in the business of warranting individual cars. Did they talk to any auto repairmen about how complex it will be to assess when a warranty applies and when it does not? Did the legal team sign off on this? What does it even mean that the government will stand behind the warranties?

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