THE BLOG
03/30/2009 07:53 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why Not Bank CEOs?

The Associated Press reports that "General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, U.S. administration officials said Sunday." I'm not sure that's a good or bad thing, but I am curious about why the White House would make such a bold demand of a car company the federal government is lending to, but not a similar demand of the banks the federal government partially owns?

What I mean is - how is it that the White House is requesting the resignation of GM's CEO while not doing the same of, say, Bank of America's CEO? In fact, not only is the president not demanding the resignation of bank CEOs, he's actually hosting them for photo ops at the White House. Sure, I know some bank CEOs resigned a few months ago under shareholder pressure, but the Obama administration has never publicly demanded such resignations of the current management that is making the problems worse, nor the resignation of management at the biggest firms (Goldman Sachs, BofA, etc.) that are still in place.

This is what I meant when I wrote in my column last week about a "government of men, not of laws." It just doesn't seem like there's "equal protection under the law" - that is, it doesn't sem like the same standards are being enforced from the White House onto different parts of the economy. In this case, it looks like a real double standard, especially when you consider the White House wants to give away more cash to banks, but may refuse to lend more money to GM and Chrysler.

So here's the question: Can anyone explain the differing treatment of auto companies and Wall Street firms? Is it just that there are far more Wall Street worshipers like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in the Obama administration than auto industry representatives? Or is it something else?

I'm genuinely asking this question, and not in a way aimed at defending Rick Wagoner. I just want to know what possible public explanation there could be as to why the White House would push auto company CEOs around while coddling banking CEOs?