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The “Oceans 11” of the Auto Bailout
Steven Rattner led the Obama Administration's efforts to restructure the auto industry in 2009 as Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury, having taken a break from his private investment firm Quadrangle Group, LLC. He has also served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Lazard, after having worked at Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers. Rattner was also employed by the New York Times for nearly nine years, principally as an economic correspondent prior to working in finance. He is author of "Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry."
Question: Why were you offered the position of auto czar?
Steven Rattner: The administration thought this was a restructuring job, not a auto management job, and so they were looking for somebody who had financial skills and restructuring skills, and they also wanted somebody who had a sense of Washington even if they hadn’t worked there in the government, but could deal with the politics and the fact that it’s a public sector job. Many people from business have a hard time when they try to transition to the public sector.
Question: What was the biggest challenge?
Steven Rattner: I think I had thought about most of the challenges, but it was all pretty overwhelming. We were faced with these two companies that were running out of money, that were losing a couple billion dollars a month of cash just to stay alive with no real plan for how to restructure them or how to get them into shape. Perhaps one thing I didn’t fully think through before I got at least close to taking the job was the fact that there were no people to work with. There was no team, there was no auto office, there was no "Department of Autos," there was no nothing. I would have to come in and really build, simultaneously build a team from scratch and also come up with a plan and implement the plan.
And one of the things I probably didn’t fully anticipate was the extent to which politicians from Michigan and other places like that would question my qualifications and kind of be... I’d be getting kind of “friendly fire” if you will, from other parts of the Democratic Party.
Question: How were you vetted?
Steven Rattner: I spent a lot of time talking to my two future bosses, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. I spent a lot of time talking to friends who had worked in Washington and friends who knew something about autos to try to get a feel for whether this job was doable. But quite frankly, I really didn’t have time to do an awful lot of that because the clock was ticking and the administration was under enormous pressure to do something about these companies. And so I couldn’t, as one might when taking a new job, I couldn’t say, "Well I’m going to go take the next six weeks and really go and think about this." This was a quick decision.
Question: What was public perception of the auto task force?
Steven Rattner: I hope, ultimately, the public perception was of a group of smart, talented professionals who came together, did this job and got out of town. One of my colleagues likened it to "Oceans 11," a group of professionals who come together, pull off a caper, as one of my colleagues like to call it, and then move on. I hope that’s how people feel about us. I think some people, probably people in Michigan, think of us a – still think of us as a bunch of Wall Street guys who came in and tore apart their iconic companies. But frankly, we felt their iconic companies needed tearing apart.
Recorded September 23, 2010
Interviewed by Victoria Brown
To save the auto industry, Washington needed a group with financial and restructuring skills–and somebody who had a sense of Washington even if they hadn’t worked in the government.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
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