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Obama to Form Task Force for Auto Industry Restructuring

Posted on 16 Feb 2009

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According to a senior administration official, President Barack Obama has decided to form a government task force for restructuring the struggling U.S. auto industry instead of naming a "car czar" with sweeping powers.

Obama is appointing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as his "designee" for overseeing auto bailout loans and as co-head of the new high-level panel along with White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, the official said. The President has dropped the idea of having a single "car czar" empowered to handle the politically sensitive task of revamping the auto industry.

"There is no 'car czar,'" the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There was no immediate word on when Obama, due to return to Washington on Monday after spending the long Presidents Day holiday weekend back home in Chicago, planned to unveil his strategy.

But General Motors and Chrysler, are required to submit new turnaround plans by Tuesday showing how they can be made viable after receiving $13.4 billion in emergency aid at the end of Bush administration.

The clock was ticking on crucial talks between GM and the United Auto Workers, which resumed on Sunday after negotiations had broken off. If GM cannot win deals to cut debt and costs, the automaker would be left reliant on an expanded bailout from the Obama administration or forced to consider bankruptcy.