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Car Baby, Tar Baby

May 19th, 2009 - 1:54 pm

For a guy who supposedly “can’t wait” to stop being an auto tycoon, President Obama is getting even deeper into GM:

General Motors Corp’s (GM.N) plan for a bankruptcy filing involves a quick sale of the company’s healthy assets to a new company initially owned by the U.S. government, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

The source, who would not be named because he was not cleared to speak with the media, did not specify a purchase price. The new company is expected to honor the claims of secured lenders, possibly in full, according to the source.

The remaining assets of GM would stay in bankruptcy protection to satisfy other outstanding claims.

GM has about $6 billion in secured debt, including a secured revolving credit and bank debt.

The government’s plans include giving stakes in the new company to GM’s union and bondholders, although the ownership structure of the company is still being negotiated, said the source who is familiar with the company’s plans.

In addition, the government would extend a credit line to the new company and forgive the bulk of the $15.4 billion in emergency loans that the U.S. has already provided to GM, the source said.

The good news: Unlike the Chrysler bankruptcy fiasco, it seems like GM’s bondholders will get their money back.

The bad news: We, the taxpayers, are on the hook for about $20 billion dollars. More will follow, as surely as day follows night, especially since Uncle Sam will own a maker of autos people won’t buy. If you think GM’s market share is bad now — down from over 50% in the ’60s to maybe 20% today — wait until they’ve chopped off four of their eight brands, axed another thousand dealers, consumers get pissed off about the endless bailouts, and their cars are designed by Washington and bolted together by a Federally-enhanced UAW.

The question nobody is asking: When it comes time for Obama to wave bye-bye to that car company he really, truly, 100% never wanted to run — what if there’s no one willing to buy?

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