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Ford's Favored Status

Ford
Ford

If actions speak louder than words, watch how the Obama administration is dealing with Ford lately.

When the President announced new CAFE standards at the White House, who were the two industry leaders positioned to stand out from the other auto executives?

Ford CEO Alan Mulally and UAW President Ron Gettlefinger.

When the Obama administration announced the first round of federal loans for developing future vehicles and fuel efficient technology, where did Energy Secretary Stephen Chu make the announcement? At Ford, standing side by side with Mulally.

In this age, where every event and speech coming out of the White House is carefully scripted, don't think for a second that Ford's favored status in either case was an accident. Ford was put out front by the Obama administration to both quiet critics of the White House role in re-shaping the auto industry, and (I believe) as a way for the President's people to say in actions not words, "Look at how an auto company can thrive without government intervention."

Oh sure, the President, the Auto Task Force, and all the folks working in this administration will tell you they are agnostic about the auto companies and not favoring one over another. But, with all things political, you have to read between the lines. This administration has heard the "Obama Motors" quips from those who think the White House will try to give GM an advantage when it comes out of bankruptcy. The theory being that if GM thrives, it's biggest shareholder (the Federal government) will profit and it will confirm the Obama strategy for rescuing GM and Chrysler.

I've never bought into the idea the President wants to run GM. But I do think the guys in the White House are sensitive about looking like they are calling the shots every day at GM. So how do you defuse the critics? You take every chance you can to publicly support Ford. Hey, it's an all American company on the rebound and pushing the idea an auto company can thrive with smaller, fuel efficient cars.

These moves don't mean Ford will get a free pass from the White House in years to come. But for the next time you hear someone say, "The President just wants GM to be king of the hill", point out how Mr. Obama is dealing with Ford.

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