Commentary Magazine


The Bait is Swallowed, the Hook is Set

Why, Ford?

Of the Big Three (well, Big 2.5) automakers, only Ford refused government bailout money. Only Ford has evaded bankruptcy and only Ford has not had to restructure its entire dealer network — provisions pushed by the federal government, which used its “investments” in the automakers to reshape them according to its political whims.

Well, Ford can no longer resist the bait, and has accepted almost $6 billion in a federal “loan” to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Apparently, Ford thinks it is exempt from the governing rule about accepting federal money: once you go into business with them, you end up the very junior partner in the deal. You will find yourself pushed to cater to the demands of several hundred new CEOs in the White House, in Congress, and in countless other bureaucratic sinecures.

That’s what is happening to banks that accepted TARP money. That’s what is happening to the auto industry. That is what is very likely to happen to the health care and health insurance industries.

Ford’s acceptance of this money is an expression of Hope and Change over reality. Ford is apparently Hoping that the Obama administration will, for some reason, Change how it treats its debtors. That the government, for once, will not use the leverage of its “investments” to exert influence over the entire corporation.

I Hope they’re right.