How the Government Enabled the SUV Craze

Terrance Heath

Far be it from me to criticize anyone in government. (Yeah. Right.) But there’s something that’s been on my mind ever since people started piling on the auto industry, and this comment from Rahm Emmanuel brought it back to mind.

The president’s chief of staff criticized U.S. car companies Sunday for relying too long and gas guzzlers and not investing enough in alternative energy vehicles.

Rahm Emanuel also said the automakers have an outdated health care cost structure. He said the companies are making the kind of changes now that many people long had told them to make.

President Barack Obama’s auto industry task force is trying to restructure General Motors (GM) and Chrysler by a March 31 deadline. If the Obama administration fails to approve their turnaround plans, earlier loans could be called back and the companies could be forced into bankruptcy.

…”They never invested in both alternative energy cars. They got dependent on big gas guzzlers. They didn’t do — they have a health care cost structure that’s outdated,” Emanuel said, repeating the administration’s premise that health costs must come under control or else risk breaking all other pieces of the budget.

OK. I’ll be the first to say the auto industry has made some huge mistakes and some horrible business decisions. (I still haven’t figured out how or why it is that equally destructive decisions and business practices on Wall Street didn’t get half as much of an angry response as the auto industry.) But this is one they have some help with.

Help from the U.S. government, that is.

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