Andrew seems very pleased by the progress we're making with the auto bailout. I'm not seeing it. Am I really supposed to get excited by the astonishing revelation that when you pour tens of billions of dollars into a couple of failed companies, some of that money will end up in someone's pocket, somewhere? Maybe it's the slightly-above 50% capacity utilization at our dying giants that should put a smile on my face and a song in my heart? After all, it's up from a trough of 36% last June, and only 20-30% below the normal level, when they weren't so profitable either. Perhaps I should just be happy to know that GM has taken some of the government money we gave it and "repaid" its multi-billion dollar loan by giving our own money back to us, while still losing billions more.
In answer to Andrew's question--"That auto restructuring last year was a disaster, wasn't it?"--well, yes, it was. The Congressional Budget Office believes that it will ultimately cost the taxpayers $50 billion--as much or more than the rest of TARP put together. For that, we saved less than 400,000 jobs at GM and Chrysler. We could have given each of the autoworkers $100,000 to go start over somewhere else, and still saved money on the deal.