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Why Can the Auto Industry CEOs but Spare Bank CEOs?

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The Associated Press [1] reports that "General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, U.S. administration officials said Sunday." I'm not sure that's a good or bad thing, but I am curious about why the White House would make such a bold demand of a car company the federal government is lending to, but not a similar demand of the banks the federal government partially owns?

What I mean is - how is it that the White House is requesting the resignation of GM's CEO while not doing the same of, say, Bank of America's CEO? In fact, not only is the president not demanding the resignation of bank CEOs, he's actually hosting them for photo ops at the White House [2]. Sure, I know some bank CEOs resigned a few months ago under shareholder pressure, but the Obama administration has never publicly demanded such resignations of the current management that is making the problems worse, nor the resignation of management at the biggest firms (Goldman Sachs, BofA, etc.) that are still in place.

This is what I meant when I wrote in my column last week [3] about a "government of men, not of laws." It just doesn't seem like there's "equal protection under the law" - that is, it doesn't sem like the same standards are being enforced from the White House onto different parts of the economy. In this case, it looks like a real double standard.

So here's the question: Can anyone explain the differing treatment of auto companies and Wall Street firms? Is it just that there are far more Wall Street worshipers like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in the Obama administration than auto industry representatives? Or is it something else?

I'm genuinely asking this question, and not in a way aimed at defending Rick Wagoner. I just want to know what possible public explanation there could be as to why the White House would push auto company CEOs around while coddling banking CEOs?
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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)

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F. William Engdahl can explain things:Geithner&rs... by TomK on Monday, Mar 30, 2009 at 4:31:00 PM
Yes, yes, they were completely unregulated by the ... by UncleSim on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 1:07:06 PM
The hypocrisy and audacity of obama  to say w... by Mr M on Monday, Mar 30, 2009 at 6:03:32 PM
Obama is one of them not one of us.  The bank... by jersey girl on Monday, Mar 30, 2009 at 7:37:53 PM
Dear Jersey Girl - I don't want to be on anybo... by TomK on Monday, Mar 30, 2009 at 9:47:22 PM
Ha-ha-ha! Good one, TK - a real knee-slapper! I... by Minion Zero on Monday, Mar 30, 2009 at 11:07:59 PM
Bank guys?  Yea, it's all about the bank ... by jersey girl on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 10:24:28 AM
Look, I did say the bank guys got Obama by the bal... by TomK on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 2:20:44 PM
Perhaps you should open your eyes. Obama's big con... by jersey girl on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:46:44 PM
Whether its bankers or auto ceo 's the governm... by Russell Checchin on Monday, Mar 30, 2009 at 8:54:17 PM
...that worked out really well, didn't it? Ho... by waldopaper on Monday, Mar 30, 2009 at 9:39:07 PM
jail, do not pass go and do not collect anymore of... by jersey girl on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:47:55 AM
I'm all for that. The only problem is, do they ma... by Sister Begonia on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 2:38:54 PM
If you look at Obama's campaign contributors, ... by UncleSim on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 1:00:54 PM
I asked myself this same exact question when I hea... by Sister Begonia on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 2:32:19 PM
No disrespect to Bubba Smith.... by UncleSim on Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 7:44:31 PM
Yes, I can explain the differing treatment in your... by syed mahdi on Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009 at 4:48:18 AM
It is puzzling as to why the auto chairman is fire... by Caronome on Monday, Apr 6, 2009 at 11:10:50 PM