There was something almost quaint about it: the United States government was not buying car companies, but buying cars. And its recent shopping spree showed that despite its entry into the car business, it was still willing to buy from competitors.
The early test of what life would look like now that the government is both a producer and a consumer of cars came thanks to the federal stimulus bill, which contained $300 million for the federal government to buy new, more fuel-efficient cars for its fleet.
When the bill passed, few realized that the auto industry’s woes would lead the government to acquire a majority stake in General Motors and a sizable piece of Chrysler. Some analysts wondered if the two companies would become the default issuers of government-issued cars, as the government tried to recoup its investment.