Roger C. Altman has an op-ed piece in today's New York Times that is remarkable for a whole variety of reasons, but let's begin with the most outrageous. He writes: "corporate America should remember the president's actual record....the president made the courageous decision to put General Motors and Chrysler through bankruptcy. As a result, both survived and, today, G.M. in particular is coming back fast — along with its hundreds of suppliers. Moreover, taxpayers are likely to recover the full value of their investment in the company."
Mr. Altman is identified at the end of the piece only as, "Roger C. Altman, an investment banker, was a deputy secretary of the Treasury during the first Clinton administration."
In fact Mr. Altman is founder and chairman of Evercore Partners, which advised on the GM deal. Evercore, after being paid $46 million by GM pre-bankruptcy, turned around and asked for a $17.9 million "success fee." A U.S. bankruptcy trustee termed the fees "staggering" and "inordinately large" and said it "clearly exceeds the bounds of reasonableness" given that "Evercore had no success at finding a purchaser or funder for the Debtors."
Even by the standards of the crony capitalism (or cronyism) of the late Bush-early Obama administration, this has to be some kind of new low. Earn tens of millions of dollars in fees from a deal paid for by American taxpayers, then turn around in the press and praise the president for his "courageous decision" on the deal without disclosing that you were intimately involved in it.
It's one thing for Mr. Altman to attempt this stunt, it's another thing for the Times to allow him to get away with it.
Never mind the question of whether the decision to put a private company into bankruptcy should be a presidential decision in the first place.
Thanks to FutureOfCapitalism reader-participant-watchdog-community member-content co-creator N. for sending the link.
Update: Welcome John Stossel readers and Weekly Standard readers! Please consider bookmarking us, subscribing to our RSS feed, or signing up for our free daily mailing list. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook.