The good news Monday was that Rick Wagoner -- who made enough bad decisions through his nine years at the helm of General Motors to send the company's stock from $80 a share to less then $4 a share -- has been politely shown the door by President Barack Obama, who hopes the failing auto giant can be rescued with radical downsizing and streamlining.

The bad news was that Wall Street reacted to the news that the Obama White House was overseeing the GM rescue effort by sending the company's stock down 75 cents, or 20.7 percent, to $2.87. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 280 points.

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With his speech announcing the rescue effort, Mr. Obama underscored the extent to which the government is now dictating terms to two of the country's iconic corporations -- GM and Chrysler -- much as it has already taken an ownership stake in banks, the insurance giant AIG and housing titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Critics are questioning whether the removal of Mr. Wagoner will succeed in displacing the entrenched management culture that brought GM to this point and whether the White House had adequate expertise to oversee its attempted rescue.

Mr. Obama gave GM 60 days and Chrysler, another ailing car maker, 30 days to come up with a workable recovery plan. If the new leadership teams at the automakers fail satisfy a White House auto industry task force, the companies could be forced into bankruptcy with continued government financial support. That would set the stage for more concessions from the United Auto Workers Union, which represents GM workers, and bond holders who hold more than $26 billion in unsecured GM debt.

GM and Chrysler employ about 140,000 workers in the U.S. In February, GM said it intended to cut 47,000 jobs around the globe, or almost 20 percent of its work force, close hundreds of dealerships and focus on four core brands — Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick.

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