Mar 29, 2009

Obama gets rid of GM CEO Rick Wagoner

A White House official said the Obama administration has pushed Rick Wagoner (pictured), the chairman and CEO of General Motors, out of the company.

As in the Godfather movie, did Obama make Mr. Wagoner an offer he couldn’t refuse?

The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government's behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason.

General Motors issued a vague statement Sunday night that did not officially confirm Wagoner's departure.

The surprise announcement about the classically iconic American corporation is perhaps the most vivid sign yet of the tectonic change in the relationship between business and government in this era of subsidies and bailouts.

Mr. Wagoner has been the General Motors CEO for 8 years. He began his career at GM more than 30 years ago.

Industry sources had said the White House planned very tough medicine in Monday's announcement, which turned out to be an understatement. And it went to the very top.

The measures to be imposed by the government will have a dramatic effect on workers, unions, suppliers, bondholders, shareholders, retirees and the communities where plants are located, the sources said.

The administration obviously didn’t like GM’s focus on trucks and SUV’s, which were always good sellers, instead of focusing on hybrids which have never been good sellers for GM.

However, Wagoner’s biggest sin may have been his open inclination to take GM into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection forcing the restructuring all existing contracts, mainly with the United Auto Workers union.

For anyone worried about Obama’s socialistic and communistic tendencies, removing the CEO of a major corporation is an ominous precedent. It would only be a short step beyond this to dictate how other companies run their businesses.

By imposing crippling rules and restrictions on any industry, Obama could soon have other corporations needing bailouts giving the administration an excuse to takeover.