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Former Car Czar Rattner: No Reason GM Can’t Succeed

"People will start buying cars again," former car czar Steve Rattner tells Judy Woodruff. He also discusses ousting GM's CEO and how the auto industry will evolve.

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    Next: our interview with the man behind the overhaul and rescue of Detroit's auto companies.

    Judy Woodruff has the story.


    When the financial crisis hit last fall, it was the tipping point for Detroit's long-ailing auto industry. Both General Motors and Chrysler ultimately filed for bankruptcy as part of a larger restructuring.

    And both sought tens of billions of dollars in a government bailout from the Bush and Obama administrations combined. But the money came with demands and changes from President Obama's task force, including the ouster of GM CEO Rick Wagoner.

    Steve Rattner was the chair of that auto task force. He's out today with a new article in "Fortune" magazine laying out his role.

    And he joins me now.

    Steve Rattner, thank you for being with us.


    Thanks for having me, Judy.


    We are only six months into the new world of the auto industry. Why write this right now?


    Well, I thought it was important, really, to set the — to write a historical record.

    There were many questions raised about why we did, many insinuations, accusations that we had acted improperly, that the government had run rampant, that this was creeping socialism.

    And I feel very proud of the work that we did under President Obama's direction, and just felt that people ought to understand how we thought about it.


    I guess the big question still on many people's minds is, was it really necessary for the federal government to bail these two companies out?


    This is one of the most important questions that people often get wrong.

    There really were only two choices. One, the federal government provide financing to restructure these companies, or, two, they close their doors, liquidate, and over a million people are out of work within a week.

    You have to remember that, back in March, when we were doing this, the capital markets were frozen. There was no private financing. These companies were out of money. There was nothing in the cash register. And there's literally not a way to make a payroll if the federal government hadn't stepped in.