Brian Deese, who interrupted his law school career, is the little-seen force behind the revamping of the American auto industry.
It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism.
But that, in short, is the job description for Brian Deese, a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry.
“Brian grasps both the economics and the politics about as quickly as I’ve seen anyone do this,” said Lawrence H. Summers, the head of the National Economic Council who is not known for being patient whenever he believes an analysis is sub-par — or disagrees with his own. “And there he was in the Roosevelt Room, speaking up vigorously to make the point that the costs we were going to incur giving Fiat a chance were no greater than some of the hidden costs of liquidation.”
That is very high praise from Summers.
Mr. Deese was not the only one favoring the Fiat deal, but his lengthy memorandum on how liquidation would increase Medicaid costs, unemployment insurance and municipal bankruptcies ended the debate.
In fact, from before Inauguration Day, few in Mr. Obama’s circle saw any other choice. Every time Mr. Deese ran the numbers on G.M. and Chrysler, he came back with the now-obvious conclusion that neither was a viable business, and that their plans to revive themselves did not address the erosion of their revenues. But it took the support of Mr. Rattner and Ron Bloom, senior advisers to the task force charged with restructuring the automobile industry, to help turn Mr. Deese’s positions into policy.
How dense, and how bad their business acumen, that the executives could not see that?