'Car czar' Rattner steps down after five months

Steven Rattner, head of President Obama's task force on restructuring the auto industry, is stepping down after seeing General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC  enter and emerge from bankruptcy proceedings during his five-month tenure.

The federal government has invested roughly $80 billion in the auto industry since the end of 2008, when General Motors and Chrysler first approached Congress seeking bailout money.

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GM emerged from bankruptcy last week after removing tens of billions of dollars in debt. Chrysler emerged earlier from its own bankruptcy proceeding.

Both car companies are undergoing dramatic restructuring plans that will see them drop several brands and lay off tens of thousands of factory workers in states across the country. House and Senate lawmakers will see thousands of constituents lose jobs in the process as the industry tries to regain its footing.

"With GM’s restructuring complete, Steven Rattner, whose leadership and vision were invaluable to the auto task force's efforts, has decided to transition back to private life and his family in New York City," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement on Monday.

Ron Bloom, who has had a leading role on the task force, will take over.

Although the companies are out of formal bankruptcy proceedings, GM and Chrysler both have years of work ahead, and it's unclear when the firms will be able to repay the federal government.

"With day-to-day management of these companies in the hands of the private sector, the American taxpayers have a better chance of recouping their investment in these companies," Geithner said.

Rattner was the head of a private equity firm before joining the administration. He has also been a significant Democratic donor and fundraiser.