In 1953, Charles Erwin Wilson, then GM president, was named by Eisenhower as Secretary of Defense. When he was asked during the hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee if as secretary of defense he could make a decision adverse to the interests of General Motors, Wilson answered affirmatively but added that he could not conceive of such a situation "because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa".
General Motors has entered bankruptcy today, and the plan is for the United States Government to own a 60% share of the reorganized company, rendering General Motor's a nationalized company. So, the alignment between GM's fate and our nation's has never been more direct.
The government's partial stake in GM comes on top of a far smaller ownership of Chrysler LLC, as well as significant federal equity in banks, the AIG insurance giant and two mortgage industry titans—all victims of an economic crisis unrivaled since the Great Depression.