June 4th, 2009
12:47 PM ET

Mitt Romney Should Run GM

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James Bennet
The Atlantic

Of President Obama’s stated goals for the taxpayers’ investment in General Motors—“To get G.M. back on its feet, take a hands-off approach and get out quickly”—the middle one is likely to work against those at either end. The government can’t hope to fix G.M. and sell it off without getting under the hood. Over decades now of restructuring plans at the company, two things have demonstrably not helped get much done: Money and time. The government can’t simply give more of each to the automaker. What’s needed is forceful, even ruthless, leadership to insist on the changes that everyone—the managers, the union leadership, the dealers, everyone—has known were necessary for about 20 years now.

Fritz Henderson, GM’s CEO, has earned a reputation as an able guy who understands the business and the company he grew up in. But without someone above him bringing the hammer down—repeatedly—he’s going to have the same problem busting through the culture that frustrated his worthy predecessors, like Jack Smith. And if the government is really going to attempt to stand back, rather than insist on a particular direction, it’s likely only to complicate Henderson’s job by allowing him to be buffeted by all sorts of political cross-pressures. Already, according to The Washington Post, John Dingell has written Henderson to complain about plans to close the Willow Run Transmission Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where roughly 1200 workers build four- and six-speed transmissions for rear-wheel-drive vehicles (half the workers will be transferred to a similar plant in Toledo).

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Filed under: General Motors • Mitt Romney
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Annie Kate

    I think this is a great idea. Let Romney run GM and bring it back from the brink of the financial abyss it is trying hard not to fall into today. Romney would not only show his leadership skills, but also his mettle under pressure and he would give the GOP something positive to coalesce around right now when they desperately need it. And if Romney decides to run for President again, this position and his work on it (assuming it is successful) would give Romney the ability to point to his accomplishments in reviving GM and its economic victims. I hope Romney gets a chance to do this – it would help him and the country a lot and it would conserve the industry for the US as well.

    June 4, 2009 at 6:17 pm |