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31 Yr Old In Charge Of Dismantling GM

Buried in the ‘Business’ section of the New York Times:


The 31-Year-Old in Charge of Dismantling G.M.

By DAVID E. SANGER

June 1, 2009

WASHINGTON — It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism.

But that, in short, is the job description for Brian Deese, a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry.

Nor, for that matter, had he given much thought to what ailed an industry that had been in decline ever since he was born. A bit laconic and looking every bit the just-out-of-graduate-school student adjusting to life in the West Wing — “he’s got this beard that appears and disappears,” says Steven Rattner, one of the leaders of President Obama’s automotive task force — Mr. Deese was thrown into the auto industry’s maelstrom as soon the election-night parties ended.

“There was a time between Nov. 4 and mid-February when I was the only full-time member of the auto task force,” Mr. Deese, a special assistant to the president for economic policy, acknowledged recently as he hurried between his desk at the White House and the Treasury building next door. “It was a little scary.”

But now, according to those who joined him in the middle of his crash course about the automakers’ downward spiral, he has emerged as one of the most influential voices in what may become President Obama’s biggest experiment yet in federal economic intervention.

While far more prominent members of the administration are making the big decisions about Detroit, it is Mr. Deese who is often narrowing their options.

A month ago, when the administration was divided over whether to support Fiat’s bid to take over much of Chrysler, it was Mr. Deese who spoke out strongly against simply letting the company go into liquidation, according to several people who were present for the debate.

“Brian grasps both the economics and the politics about as quickly as I’ve seen anyone do this,” said Lawrence H. Summers, the head of the National Economic Council who is not known for being patient whenever he believes an analysis is sub-par — or disagrees with his own. “And there he was in the Roosevelt Room, speaking up vigorously to make the point that the costs we were going to incur giving Fiat a chance were no greater than some of the hidden costs of liquidation.”

Mr. Deese was not the only one favoring the Fiat deal, but his lengthy memorandum on how liquidation would increase Medicaid costs, unemployment insurance and municipal bankruptcies ended the debate. The administration supported the deal, and it seems likely to become a reality on Monday, if a federal judge handling the high-speed bankruptcy proceeding approves the sale of Chrysler’s best assets to the Italian carmaker.

Mr. Deese’s role is unusual for someone who is neither a formally trained economist nor a business school graduate, and who never spent much time flipping through the endless studies about the future of the American and Japanese auto industries.

He lives a dual life these days. He starts the day at a desk wedged just outside of Mr. Summers’s office, where he can hear what young members of the economic team have come to know as “the Summers bellow.” From there, he can make it quickly to the press office to help devise explanations for why taxpayers are spending more than $50 billion on what polls show is a very unpopular bailout of the auto industry.

Several times a day he speed-walks to Treasury, taking a shortcut through the tunnel under the colonnade, near the kitchens. The other day he talked about how sharply perceptions of the industry’s future changed after Mr. Obama’s election.

“At the first meeting with Rick Wagoner,” he said, referring to G.M.’s recently deposed chief executive, “they were in a very different place. He said publicly that bankruptcy was not a viable option. It’s been a long process getting everyone to look at the options differently.”

In fact, from before Inauguration Day, few in Mr. Obama’s circle saw any other choice. Every time Mr. Deese ran the numbers on G.M. and Chrysler, he came back with the now-obvious conclusion that neither was a viable business, and that their plans to revive themselves did not address the erosion of their revenues. But it took the support of Mr. Rattner and Ron Bloom, senior advisers to the task force charged with restructuring the automobile industry, to help turn Mr. Deese’s positions into policy.

“The president’s instruction to us was that we had to come up with a solution that would work on a commercial basis, that didn’t involve indefinite federal financing,” Mr. Deese said. “But we didn’t want liquidation, which would have even worse effects. So the question was how do you design a very substantial restructuring, and do it fast.”

Mr. Deese’s route to the auto table at the White House was anything but a straight line. He is the son of a political science professor at Boston College (his father) and an engineer who works in renewable energy (his mother). He grew up in the Boston suburb of Belmont and attended Middlebury College in Vermont. He went to Washington to work on aid issues and was quickly hired by Nancy Birdsall, a widely respected authority on the effectiveness of international aid and the founder of the Center for Global Development.

But he wanted to learn domestic issues as well, and soon ended up working as an assistant for Gene Sperling, who 17 years ago in the Clinton White House played a similar role as economic policy prodigy. Eventually, Mr. Deese headed to Yale for his law degree. But his e-mail box was constantly filled with messages from friends in Washington who were signing up to work for the Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns. Mr. Deese chose Senator Clinton’s.

“He was pretty quickly functioning as the top economic policy staffer through her campaign,” Mr. Sperling said. “He could blend the policy needs and the political needs pretty seamlessly.” On the day that the Clinton campaign ended, Mr. Deese left her concession speech and received a message on his BlackBerry from a friend in the Obama campaign urging him to sign on immediately to Mr. Obama’s team.

He resumed his policy work there, and found himself stuck in Chicago — unable to fly to Washington with his dog — as the economic crisis deepened. Finally, one night, he decided to get into his car with his dog and just started driving back to Washington. Tired, he pulled over to catch some sleep in the car.

“I slept in the parking lot of the G. M. plant in Lordstown, Ohio,” he recalled. The giant plant, opened during G.M.’s heyday in the mid-1960s, is where the Pontiac G5 is produced. Under the plan Mr. Deese worked on when he arrived in Washington, Pontiac will disappear.

“I guess that was prophetic,” he said, shaking his head.

Why not? What good is experience?

What experience does Mr. Obama have?

And look at all of the miracles he has performed.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, June 1st, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

20 Responses to “31 Yr Old In Charge Of Dismantling GM”

  1. BillK says:

    Simply put, he knows how to pucker up and smooch butt cheeks well:

    “Brian grasps both the economics and the politics about as quickly as I’ve seen anyone do this,” said Lawrence H. Summers, the head of the National Economic Council who is not known for being patient whenever he believes an analysis is sub-par — or disagrees with his own.

    He fits well the Obama template – doesn’t know anything about automobiles, has never run a business, and in all likelihood, has never even worked for one.

  2. proreason says:

    bonus points!!! he’s a nerd.

    Can’t you just see him in mom’s basement.

  3. Liberals Demise says:

    Great Googley Moogley!!

  4. RightWinger says:

    At least he’s got this experience…..

    ““I slept in the parking lot of the G. M. plant in Lordstown, Ohio,” he recalled.”

    Though I would have felt more comfortable if he said he slept at a Holiday Inn Express instead.

  5. Steve says:

    Mr. Limbaugh is discussing this article as we type.

    • BillK says:

      With of course full credit to S&L. :-)

      It’s good to know he consults us so regularly…

  6. Right of the People says:

    I’ve got underwear older than this kid! I guess the whole point of this administration is to appoint people who are so out of their depth to every cabinet post they can. It’s like they’re failing on purpose.

    • jobeth says:

      All the better for Dear Leader to have some one else to blame for a failing policy, my dear.

  7. BillK says:

    Of course also from the article above is the fact that his parents both live off Government grants:

    He is the son of a political science professor at Boston College (his father) and an engineer who works in renewable energy (his mother).

    A political science professor and a mother that works in a field that literally can only exist due to Government handouts.

    So he really doesn’t have any idea of how private businesses actually function.

    Par for the Obama Administration.

  8. jobeth says:

    “It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism”

    So let’s see, we have a “31-year-old who, in a first government job” was appointed by a man who’s only “job” was as a never “present” senator and community organizer before becoming president of the most important (now former) super power on earth.

    And you say you see a problem?

    • JohnMG says:

      Well, the headline does say he’s in charge of dismantling GM. How much experience does anyone need to tear something apart? If I had to guess, I’d say he’s probably capable of mucking up a one-car junkyard, never mind a one-car parade. Bowling balls would be OK around him as long as all he had was a rubber mallet and boxing gloves.

      Here’s a John Wayne quote Obama should consider. “Life’s tough. It’s even tougher if you’re stupid!”

    • jobeth says:

      “Well, the headline does say he’s in charge of dismantling GM. How much experience does anyone need to tear something apart?”

      Well Duh! … You are so right of course…its just that I was thinking he might want to do it with the least amount of hurt to the country….Silly Me!!!!

      After you corrected my thinking, I believe I woke up and remembered we are talking about someone (Obalmy) who would like nothing better than to see this country fail…so the hurt to the country is of no matter at all!

      Our little Mr Deese need only to stand on the side lines and watch it all fall. An of course, provide cover for Obalmy.

      Can you see this guy’s resume’ ?

      Last position held: Managed the failure of the world’s largest automobile maker.

      Yep that should be a great help in the search for a future job! LOL

      My favorite stupid saying is that “Stupid People Shouldn’t Breed!”…Of course they seem to be the only one’s doing much breeding lately….! (At least breeding that results in a new human…. :-D )

  9. Anonymoose says:

    ** bang head on table**** bang head on table**** bang head on table**** bang head on table**** bang head on table**** bang head on table**** bang head on table**** bang head on table**** bang head on table**

    Why not? Obami has no experience, why should his flunkies? Just out of law school, taking apart GM, but he slept in the parking lot of a GM plant, sounds too much like that commercial……..and his mother works in renewable energy and his father is a political science professor. Oh yeah! It’s good enough for the Libs, gives him cred in being one of them, knowing what you’re doing is irrelevant.

    Was Wile E. Coyote or Bozo The Clown unavailable?

    • catie says:

      I would think Wile E Coyote or Bozo would have a better idea of what to do. It’s almost funny until you realize this is real life and these 5th graders have control of the school.

  10. Confucius says:

    Obama must have hired Mr. Deese for reasons other than education or experience. Or skin color. Or sex.

    Mr. Deese must be oozing with empathy. (Notice the touching vignettes about the dog and him sleeping in the parking lot.)

    Do you think, though, that Mr. Deese has more empathy than–say–a crazy Latina from Puerto Rico?

  11. bousquem says:

    While I understand the idea of getting “new blood” and “fresh ideas” in there, having this mook run the company is just shooting ourselves in the foot. He has zero clue how to run a business but knows how to be a professional political leach/toadie. I really have to believe in more deeply now that Obama and the left just want an axe man in GM now to carve up the company and give it away to the unions and their cronies to absorb.

  12. Rusty Shackleford says:

    “I slept in the parking lot of the G. M. plant in Lordstown, Ohio,” he recalled. The giant plant, opened during G.M.’s heyday in the mid-1960s, is where the Pontiac G5 is produced. Under the plan Mr. Deese worked on when he arrived in Washington, Pontiac will disappear.

    “I guess that was prophetic,” he said, shaking his head.

    —Wrong word—

    PATHETIC!


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