President Obama spoke about loans to the auto industry at 11 AM this morning in the Grand Foyer of the White House.
In the first three parts of this series, we (1) covered some background, (2) analyzed the President’s options, and (3) learned about the loans President Bush authorized in December, which laid the groundwork for President Obama’s decision.
An Associated Press headline reads, “GM, Chrysler Get Ultimatum from Obama on Turnaround.” I think this is a misread. It appears to me that Chrysler got an ultimatum, and GM got a do-over.
Here’s my analysis of the different messages to Chrysler and General Motors contained in the President’s remarks and in the fact sheet released by the White House. I’m trying to weed out the political and communications signals the White House might want the press and various constituencies to think they heard, from the definitive and binding statements made today by the President and by his Administration. As an example, while the President’s words and the documents tip their hats to more fuel efficient vehicles, I see no specific new hard fuel efficiency requirements for either Chrysler or GM. This is in contrast to the clear language that Chrysler will get more funds after April 30th only if it has merged with Fiat or someone else.
In 6+ years working for President Bush I wrote and edited hundreds of White House fact sheets, and worked with the speechwriters and fact-checkers on a similar number of Presidential speeches. We meant exactly what we said in those speeches and documents. Here is my attempt to boil down the text of the President’s remarks and the White House fact sheet into their essential, definitive, and binding statements.
Message to Chrysler:
- You are not viable as a standalone company.
- We do not think that you can become viable as a standalone company. “