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March 30, 2009

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clarice

From time to time troll like creatures appear here with the bright notion that the automakers would be in fine fettle if only their management hadn't been so idiotic as to produce cars they claim no one wanted. It seems the President shares this fercocked notion.

Bill in AZ

If Zero really wanted to do something he would have fired the head of the UAW. This is just token fascist demonstration of what is to come - and the market (and Soros) love it.

PaulL

Bill, you're right on the UAW. All I can figure is that, since unions spent about $1 billion helping to elect Obama, Obama feels he owes them something. It could be coincidence though.

glasater

I listened to Zero's auto pronoucements this AM and even with all kinds of telepromters--he was muffing his lines.

Possible weekend hangover?

hit and run

Bill:
If Zero really wanted to do something he would have fired the head of the UAW.

I hear Gettelfinger may be resigning...


PaulL
since unions spent about $1 billion helping to elect Obama, Obama feels he owes them something. It could be coincidence though.

...To take the GM CEO position.

...

I kid.

...

I think.

DebinNC

"Obama" is offering incentives.

DebinNC

The incentives only apply to US made cars. What about all the non-US dealerships, garages, parts stores?

SWarren

Listening to Frank Beckman this AM on WJR Detroit. I've never heard him in such a fury. Obama has selected a sociologist (Montgomery?) who has no business experience to run Obama Motors.

clarice

Now we're responsible for the warrantees:
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20090330/tbs-uk-autos-obama-remarks-sb-03c9bed.html

The market's on a nose dive as The Won and over 500 of his staffers head off to Europe to do some more wreckage.

RichatUF

SWarren-

Since Obama has diagonosed GM's problem that they don't build enough fuel efficient, hybrid cars, all decisions will flow from that. See, GM needs to be more green, then they will be back in financial health. They also need the government to pick up the tab on the health care costs-sort like a special S-CHIP program for UAW workers.

Problems solved.

Pagar

Does Obama know anyone with business experience? How would he meet such a person? What would they discuss?

Tom Bowler

Isn't this a UAW bailout? By bailing out GM doesn't Obama keeps the union contract in force. If it were to go into bankrupcy court wouldn't GM be able to break its contract with UAW?

PD

One of my senators, Russ Feingold, routinely squawked about "executive overreach" when Bush was in office. So far not a peep about behavior on Obama's part that I would think warrants the same outcry, not even now that Obama's moved into the area of deciding who can run companies.

Maybe he'll wake up a little when Obama takes the next logical step, to fire and hire members of Congress.


RichatUF

Pager-

Why would Obama need business experience to run GM? His wife worked at a hospital so she has the experience necessary for health care and he has plenty of advisors on green issues. You're thinking that GM is a car company and that they need a car guy to run it-Obama will disabuse you of that sort of false consciousness.

Slavering Socialist

"Does Obama know anyone with business experience? How would he meet such a person? What would they discuss?"

He knows someone with outstanding business acumen....GWB.

RichatUF

I blame Bush.

Looked like he got a bit of a suntan though when he was doing the press conference this morning.

Porchlight

OT,

Inexplicably (to me anyway), per Rasmussen Obama's approval numbers are also on the rise - approval index was +4 Sat, +7 Sun and +8 today, and he's now 58/40 overall after being stuck at 56/43 for weeks.

What on earth could have caused this, I can't think. His numbers normally go down a bit on the weekends.

Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

RichatUF

Porchlight-

What he's doing is working?

Scary thought isn't it.

Slavering Socialist

"What he's doing is working?

Scary thought isn't it."

Not as scary as the alternative.

Pagar

Porchlight, Maybe it is because he will be out of the country, and taking 500 of his closest associates with him.

More than 500 officials and staff will accompany the president on his tour this week - along with a mass of high-tech security equipment, including the $300,000 presidential limousine, known as The Beast.

America is still the sole superpower and the president must have the ability to handle any crisis, anywhere, any time."

Danube of Thought

What he's doing clearly is not working in the eyes of the investors of the world.

Now this young man who has never run anything in his life other than a political campaign will try his hand at running an auto company. Meantime, the hybrids are stacking up on the dealers' lots...

Danube of Thought

Dow down 22% since election day.

Porchlight

Scary thought isn't it.

Yes, it is. Maybe the Axelrodian techniques are taking hold.

Meanwhile Mark Levin's book is #1 on Amazon and 5000 people showed up to one of his book signings in a VA town just outside the Beltway.

It makes you wonder.

Porchlight

Wow, I wonder what this trip is costing. 500 people? That is simply incredible. 200 are Secret Service, but there are also WH kitchen staff, INS agents, etc. Interesting story at Pagar's link.

Slavering Socialist

"Wow, I wonder what this trip is costing. 500 people? That is simply incredible. 200 are Secret Service, but there are also WH kitchen staff, INS agents, etc. Interesting story at Pagar's link."

'nouveau outrage'

MayBee

Tapper's list of the admin's restructuring demands:
* Some of the restructuring initiatives aren't set to be finished until 2014;
* The assumptions in GM’s business plan are too optimistic -- the company has been losing 0.7 percent of the market share every year for the last 30 years, and yet GM's projections assume a decline of only 0.3 percent;
* President Obama's auto task force believes GM's plan retains too many dud nameplates (Hummer, Saturn, Saab, Pontiac) that tarnish the GM brand, "distract the focus of its management team, demand increasingly scarce marketing dollars and are a lingering drag on consumer perception, market share and margin";
* GM's plan doesn't close enough unprofitable/underperforming car dealers quickly enough, in the Obama administration's view;
* GM's plan relies too much on the high-margin trucks and SUVs that are "vulnerable to energy cost-driven shifts in consumer demand";
* GM lags significantly on green R&D;
* even with all its optimistic assessments, the plan assumes too much debt.
=============

As much fun as it would be to point out the hilarity of the Obama administration being critical of someone having plans that go out too far in the future, are too optimistic, and rely on too much debt...
I see this as a "go green or die" moment for GM. There's nothing here about legacy costs. No tough love for unions, no protection for dealership employees.

I agree with Rich. Obama wants to create a green auto company, and he's going to use GM to do it. And if nobody wants to buy fuel efficient cars, cap and trade and some heavy taxes on oil companies will take care of that.

steve sturm

I agree that replacing Wagoner is a purely political symbolic move. I'm no fan of his, but Wagoner surely understood GM's problems: too many dealers, too many models and divisions, too much debt, high labor costs and pension and retiree commitments to former workers... combined with union, creditors and dealers who are not only unwilling to make significant and sufficient concessions but backed by law and friendly regulators and legislators that gives GM no ability to ram through concessions other than in bankruptcy which would wipe out GM's shareholders whose interests the CEO is supposed to be representing and in any event isn't an option given that the whole country is paranoid that GM's bankruptcy (even 11, not 7) would doom us all.

Given this, no replacement CEO is going to be able to do any better than Wagoner. And given this, why replace Wagoner, especially with another GM insider, except as a cheap political stunt?

clarice

The whole country is NOR "paranoid that GM's bankruptcy...would doom us all."
But the unions and auto suppliers are all BIG BIG Dem donors and they must be assuaged. I doubt that Americans think GM's failure dooms us.

clarice

**NOT paranoid*****

Cap'n Trade.

"some heavy taxes on oil companies will take care of that."

When oil heads north to $400 a barrel,there will be plenty who want fuel efficient cars.

The question is; how sill production fare to meet demand when such occurs.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Appalled

Mr. Sturm:

Maybe Obama is trying to resurrect the quaint idea of "moral hazard".

Really, with all the bickering about the companies that have sought money from the taxpayer, organizations might think twice about asking for money from the Federal Traesury. And, really, is that such a bad thing? If we really have a company "too big to fail", isn't a process that looks as cruddy as Chapter 11 bankruptcy for a company probably the best thing for keeping capitalism from being a gvernment run enterprise?


Cap'n Trade.

'I doubt that Americans think GM's failure dooms us.'

At least real americans don't think so.

PD

It looks to me like this will cause GM to die, which (unfortunately for all involved at GM) should serve as an object lesson to the rest of the country why we don't want Obama in charge of anything.


Meanwhile, Angie Harmon speaks truth to power. You go, girl.

WestWright

I bet Obama Motors will hire Wagoner as a consultant after they find the appropriate UAW friendly figure head. This firing thing is just a cover for taking care of BO's base, da Union Wo-Man.
I wanna my check, now!

Tully

One wonders why Obama didn't come up with the birght idea of a structured bankruptcy process BEFORE throwing $17.4 billion into the pit.

I mean, it's not as if it never occured to anyone.

steve sturm

Appalled: While I wish he was, I doubt it as sticking another CEO in place doesn't do any good if the CEO doesn't get the power to make changes... and as far as I can tell, the new guy has his hands tied just as Wagoner did.

The sad fact is that there aren't going to be any winners out of this mess, it is simply a battle to see who suffers less. Everybody is standing pat and hoping the other guys blink first (every dollar the creditors give up is a dollar that doesn't have to come from workers... and so on)... with this game of chicken being subsidized by the taxpayer.

Cap'n Trade: notwithstanding whatever you mean by real American, more people are afraid of GM going under than they are with another 50 billion dollars being spent to keep GM on life support... it's the same thing with Fannie and Freddie and AIG and on and on and on... people are numb to the dollars being spent keeping these firms afloat but Paulson, Geithner, Bernanke and so on have done a magnificent job of convincing the public that these bailouts are the only thing standing between a return to prosperity and chaos in the streets.

daveinboca

Zero might consider what GM & other US carmakers were doing---move the factories to Canada so the health benefits the UAW demands are covered by clowns in Ottawa.

Better yet, rein in the UAW so the US automakers don't have to box with Toyota with one hand tied behind their backs.

clarice

steve, for pity's sake even the Swedes refused to bail out their auto industry..Hardly anyone buys American cars anymore and feels any loyalty to Detroit.

Perhaps you could point to something somewhere that suggests America still thinks as GM goes so goes the nation.

Jane

I think I already posted this - but someone on Fox this morning said they thought the govt takeover of GM was a front for taking over their health care and beginning the march toward nationalization.

fdcol63

We're speeding toward full-fledged socialism, yet we'll become so de-sensitized to it as the process continues apace that we'll do nothing more than simply shrug.

Tea parties may continue and gather some steam, providing some with the false hope that the tide can yet be stemmed.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid this past election was indeed a tipping point where 30+ years of liberal indoctrination through their dominance of academia, journalism, entertainment and bureaucracy have succeeded in creating a culture of entitlement, victimization and dependence among the majority, who now believe that Big Government is the only entity that can save America from itself.

If this weren't so, Obama would never have been elected in the first place.

Pofarmer

Saturn, Saab, Pontiac

Do NOT tarnish GM's name. Hell, they're 3 of the better divisions they have.

steve sturm

Hardly anyone buys American cars anymore and feels any loyalty to Detroit. et tu, Pauline Kael, oops, Clarice? Presuming by 'American' you are referring to Ford, GM and Chrysler, you're right, but only if 'hardly anyone' = 40+% And comparing us to the swedes? aside from that being the liberal thing to do, SAAB means less to Sweden than GM, Ford and Chrysler mean to the US (and don't overlook that GM going under could mean a world of hurt for parts suppliers and by extension, US-based foreign manufacturers who rely on those suppliers).

And while they may not be a majority of the country, between the several hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees, the tens of thousands of workers at dealerships, suppliers, ad agencies and other local communities that depend on 'their' piece of GM sticking around, they form a very vocal lobby to keep things just as they are and any politician who goes off the reservation does so at their electoral peril.

And please note I'm not defending Obama's actions any more than I am defending 'conservative' George W Bush's decision to give them billions in the first place, I am merely trying to fill the role of explainer-in-chief

clarice

Is It Kael-ish? Perhaps many of the cars purchased here are American built but under foreign owned names..like Honda and Toyota by non union workers and the people driving them care little about the rise and fall of Detroit automakers.

MayBee

I think I already posted this - but someone on Fox this morning said they thought the govt takeover of GM was a front for taking over their health care and beginning the march toward nationalization.

That's where things will get really disingenuous. The UAW negotiated its members OUT of the available government health care program we do have, Medicare. It was not a lack of national healthcare that caused GM's legacy cost problem, but a rejection of it by UAW employees.

So now they haven't paid into the system, and the federal government will take a huge financial hit incorporating them. Even as Obama tries to explain how expanding health care coverage will lower costs.

Daddy

You guys are being way too hard on Obama for his ideas that a President of a country can't run a car company. Didn't some leader in Germany in 1932 prove Obama correct when he helped design the">http://www.hitler.org/artifacts/volkswagen/">the Volkswagon?

RichatUF

fdcol63-

Yep.

dave-

Better yet, rein in the UAW so the US automakers don't have to box with Toyota with one hand tied behind their backs.

Why would they want to do that? Wouldn't the better plan be to have all the foreign makers have to deal with the great work ethic and special touch that the UAW brings to domestic makers. Card Check NOW!!!!

I mean think about it, how could Democrats skit campaign financing laws and build one party states without union muscle?

MayBee

clarice- most of the good libs I've known over the years have scoffed at American made cars, and the red-neckiness of the whole "buy American" thing.

Po- I absolutely agree. Why would he say Saturn, of all of them, tarnishes GM? Does that have something to do with the unions?

clarice

You'd be hard pressed to find an American car in D.C. under all the Obama stickers, MayBee.

Old Lurker

I'm in fdcol's camp, given my general pessimism about things these last few years.

I also saw Porch's note above about the 5000 that showed up at Mark Levin's book signing at Tyson's Corner Va last weekend. So the conservative thread survives though overwhelmed.

Rush says it best as he comments on the pronounced bi-polar nature of our society today because that is exactly the case. Rasmussen's graph shows it too. Anyway you say it, half the country, maybe more, is taking from the other half, and it is hard to see how we get back to a healthy balance. The takers are clearly emboldened and backed by congress, so why should they back off? The payers are outnumbered and leaderless, and their case requires some education and intelligence to appreciate...so back to point 1. Against those odds, as Rick has pointed out often, the owners of the capital are on strike and unlikely to return in this environment.

As I said. Depressing.

steve sturm

It isn't that Saturn tarnishes GM, it's that Saturn is a drag on GM as they don't sell enough cars to justify the cost and overhead of a division. Neither does Pontiac, Saab, Hummer and I would guess Buick. And it ain't a union thing, Saturn is unionized albeit with some different work rules.

And Clarice, read the chart, 45% of the cars sold in America are GM, Ford and Chrysler cars, the balance is a combination of 'foreign owned US produced' and foreign owned and imported into the US.

And any 'solution' has to involve shedding the expensive health and pension obligations... and since we ain't going to stiff the retirees (heck, we won't even stiff the guy who bought more house than he could afford and only then by lying about his income), their health costs and pensions will be picked up by the taxpayer.

Old Lurker

Hey MayBee! You were great yesterday!

sbw

I. Don't. Want. A. GM. Car.

Jane

I did't know that Maybee. When did they do that?

MayBee

MayBee

Jane, Obama's task force said:
"GM has retained too many unprofitable nameplates that tarnish its brands, distract the focus of its management team, demand increasingly scarce marketing dollars and are a lingering drag on consumer perception, market share and margin

The nameplates are Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, and Saab.

Jane

I meant the health care. When did they opt out of medicare?

Dude08

The libs buy cars made by good ole, non-unionized Southern boys and girls, and the wingnuts buy cars (and trucks) made by overpaid, now blue-state unionized crybabies.

Funny how that works.

Fresh Air

Porch--

The NCAA basketball tournament was this weekend. College sports skew heavily towards Republican audiences. Tiny samples really don't mean much until they are confirmed by multiple polls. I guarantee you, though, when unemployment hits 15 percent in mid-2010, his poll numbers will be the sewer with the rest of his administration.

PDinDetroit

The frustration has started...

Fresh Air

I hear GM is coming out with a "green" car that runs on old diapers and banana peels. If you run out of fuel, you can use your iPod collection of Al Gore's speeches, which release enough hot air to allow the vehicle to run on wind, too.

We don't need a sociologist to run GM, we need an undertaker.

Porchlight

Thanks, Fresh Air. I just couldn't think of a single thing that would prompt unusual polling behavior but that may be it.

MayBee

Oh, sorry Jane.
The UAW has negotiated for years for UAW retirees to get GM-funded health care. It'I'm looking around for good links on the benefit for you.

DebinNC

GM's success marketing to Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

clarice

steve, when people said as GM goes so goes the nation, it would have been inconceivable that only 45% of the cars bought here would be made here by US producers.

55% is most BTW in my book.

Fresh Air

MayBee--

Mark Steyn is fond of saying that GM employs 200,000 people and pays retirement and health benefits to 2 million. (I quote from memory.)

DebinNC

Senate Republicans: This was our plan. I hope we hear more from Senators Gregg and Corker and less from Rep. Cantor and Ryan.

MayBee

Jane- here is an article about GM switching its salaried retirees over to Medicare last fall. Google is too full of new stuff for my addled brain to find an accounting of the UAW retiree plan.

MayBee

Fresh Air- heh. I love Steyn.

It's even more than just the retirees. Many GM workers have gone through their lives not paying any part of their insurance premiums, not paying co-pays, and never seeing a medical bill.
To say Government run health care could have saved them - and saved us money to boot- makes no sense.

Pofarmer

You folks that are thinking that a bunkruptcy by GM would be the end of the world REALLY need to read some history and take a look at the history of International Harvester. Here's a hint. We still run International harvester tractors from the 70's, among others, we can still get parts for them. There is CURRENTLY a CASEIH company. Bankruptcy WOULD NOT BE THE END.

Get a clue folks.

fdcol63

If it's too big to fail, maybe it ought to be split up ... like Ma Bell.

Jane

Maybee,

Thanks!

Fresh Air

Pofarmer--

I'm pretty sure just about everyone on here thinks GM should be left to file for Chapter 11, if not 7. But, yeah, one of the great self-regenerating features of our capitalist system is (used to be?) that bankruptcy allows for the assets of a failed enterprise to redistributed to productive use. Not that there are a whole lot of buyers for the Ford Rouge plant, but some of their tooling has value, not to mention one or two of their employees.

james

Long time reader. This is analysis?
Available at Whitehouse.gov

* Fact Sheet on the New Path to Viability for GM & Chrysler (pdf) >>
* Warrantee Commitment Program Explanation (pdf) >>
* GM Viability Assessment (pdf) >>
* Chrysler Viability Assessment (pdf) >>

Jim Rhoads a/k/a vjnjagvet

I have a practical question.

To do a viable Chapter 11, GM needs Debtor In Possession (DIP) financing to meet its immediate cash needs and to pay a bankruptcy team of consultants, ERISA experts (to deal with the real problam of legacy costs) bankruptcy lawyers and what not.

What commercial or investment bank is in any position today to supply it? Surely not one who has taken TARP money, or the Feds will be right back into everyone's shorts. A large foreign bank maybe? Individuals with substantial wealth like Soros? Buffett? Gates? Why would they want to do that? You have to have a way to get a lot of money on the back end in case of success or it's not worth the risk.

Having pointed out a problem, I think the option of getting the federal government in the car business is akin to what it tried to do with the auto industry under the old National Recovery Act. That was unanimously held unconstitutional by SCOTUS in the early thirties. Even Louis Brandeis voted against it. The so-called plans to which james cites are wishful thinking and do not recognize the realities of the US marketplace.


Rick Ballard

Jim,

Why would any Greyhound capitalist want a piece of Omobile (makers of the famed Widowmaker and the new for 2010 Dem DirtNap)? Let Soros give it a spin.

You have identified the salient issues concerning a company with a plausible chance of continuing to exist but I don't believe that they pertain to a company run by dirty socialists. The Tea Parties are a nice symbolic gesture - buying a Ford or, better yet, a Toyota, is a much more concrete gesture. My last GM is sitting in the driveway.

Charlie (Colorado)

You folks that are thinking that a bunkruptcy by GM would be the end of the world REALLY need to read some history and take a look at the history of International Harvester....

Po, I just looked back through the thread. I can't find who you're arguing with. As far as I can see the only down side to a GM bankruptcy is that it's months or even years overdue. I don't see anyone else arguing against it either.

You been nipping at the same stuff TCO drinks?

Mark Maps

Am I dense or slow or something...where did Obama, the Hamster-in-chief, obtain the legislative authority to put the taxpayer on the hook for GM and Chrysler's warrantees? Is that buried in the epic, 1,000-page stimulus bill, or did Obama simply pull that authority out of his ass?

Bill in AZ

Soros will buy a couple warehouses full of Widowmakers and DirtNaps just to make OMobile look viable - part of his big lie... err... reflexivity theory. You just don't want to be an acquaintance of his at Christmas time. You'll get a Widomaker stuffed full of dated Bush bashing books under your tree.

I'll miss my bad ol' Ford Pickup when I wear it out - but with Obama Corps full of volunteers coming soon, I won't need it for Search and Rescue anymore. I am sure with all their enthusiasm I won't have any trouble at all getting the Obama Corps up in the middle of the night during wind, rain, snow, to go out and scale cliffs to search for and rescue the latest attempted Obamacide victim.

Pofarmer

Ya know, I just thought that there's a HUGE boon to this govt takeover of GM. I mean FINALLY we'll get the "fish" 100 mpg carborator, we'll find all those super efficient batteries they've bought the patents on and are hiding, FINALLY the secrets to those super efficient transmissions will come out. I mean really, the govt is IN CHARGE and they will be looking out for the citizens best interests, or something.

matt

Detroit's cars are actually pretty good these days. they just came 1-2 in the JD powers quality survey for the first time in many years. Toyota is crying the blues, and BMW and Mercedes are feeling the pain as well.

So who has the magic bullet Barack? Are you going to throw out antiquated union work rules? How are you going to make GM as efficient as Honda and Toyota in the USA? Why do you think the Europeans and Japanese have so many of their plants down South? Why do you think the Euros and Japanese are profitable and GM/Chrysler are not?

So now the government is going to guarantee my warranty? That's going to be interesting. We'll now have to call the General Services Administration for our recalls and spare parts.

This isn't rocket science. It's simply the result of 40 years of go along to get along.

Bill in AZ

heh heh - Pofarmer - you should go peddle that notion on some moonbat sites and see how fast they start backpedalling on "big oil" squashing all those patents and inventions for the last 40 years. Or maybe they'll go after The Won to expose "big oil's" perfidity. Either way, it oughta be good for some laughs.

GSA for spare parts? That will be good for a few laughs too - when libs see how efficient the guvmint can make things.

fdcol63

Remember the old geezer in "The Graduate" who suggested "Buy plastic"?

Perhaps the new mantra will be "Invest in cold fusion". LOL

MayBee

heh, Po.

For Obama to promise the government takeover of GM warranties, does the Congress have to pass a law or anything?

centralcal

fdcol63: Remember the old geezer in "The Graduate" who suggested "Buy plastic"?

A true story . . .

Some many years ago when I got divorced, Mercedes and BMW's and the like were not yet the status symbol cars of the upper middle class. I had a beautiful Cadillac Fleetwood fully loaded and because of divorce I needed to reduce my monthly car payment.

I ended up with a Pontiac something or other for about 4 years. I always referred to it as a "piece of plastic sh*t."

I have never owned a GM product since.

Pofarmer

For Obama to promise the government takeover of GM warranties, does the Congress have to pass a law or anything

Surely you jest.

My wife had a Pontiac Grand Am and I had a Chevy Cavalier at one point. They both had a couple hundred thousand on them when they left and neither had had much of anything but brakes and oil changes. Yes, the plastic center console in the Grand Am rattled, but, overall,they were GREAT cars.

We then got a Chevy Malibu 4 door. Loved that car. Got a Pontiac Minivan now and its pushing 95k miles with no maintenance other than oil changes. I'm on my second Chevrolet 2500HD, and other than a couple of electrical issues on this last one, they've been great. When you can put a bale bumper on the back of a Toyota, put a gooseneck hitch in the bed and take off with 10 mad beef cows in a 20 ft trailer, and have it last more than a year, then I'll look. Untill then it's GM or Ford. If you thought a Pontiac was a plastic piece of trash, you've obviously never driven a Dodge.

sbw

I can't speak to the life cycle, but renting GM minivans on trips, compared to the Chrysler minivan of about 2001 that I owned, the Feng Shui turns into Feng Suck.

The seats don't fit the body, the steering isn't easy, the instruments seems misplaced and cheap, the pedals aren't placed right and have no sense of feel, and the overall look is as if it was designed by committee.

Other than that, you go Detroit!

Pofarmer

For Obama to promise the government takeover of GM warranties, does the Congress have to pass a law or anything?

I don't think Obama is really into little technicalities like passing laws or following the Constitution and stuff.

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