How Hillary Turned Her Support for Welfare for Banks into an Auto Bailout Attack

For a campaign that has spent days insisting Bernie Sanders should not launch attacks against her, the Hillary Clinton campaign sure engaged in some dishonest hackery last night.

During the debate in Flint, Hillary attacked Bernie for “vot[ing] against the money that ended up saving the auto industry.” She was talking about a January 15, 2009 attempt to withhold the second $350 billion of TARP funding that failed (here’s the resolution); Bernie voted not to release those funds. But the vote was not directly about auto bailout funding. It was about bailing out the banks and funding what turned out to be completely ineffective efforts to forestall foreclosures.

It is true that Bush’s failure to fund an auto-specific bailout meant that TARP funds got used to fund the $85 billion auto rescue (Bush had already spent some money on the auto companies — basically just enough to ensure they’d go under on Obama’s watch, but not enough to do anything to save them). But that’s not what the vote was (and there might have been enough money for the auto bailout in any case).

Larry Summers’ two letters in support of the additional funding (January 12Janaury 15) in support of the additional funding certainly didn’t describe it as an auto bailout bill. He mentioned “auto” just three times between the two of them. In the January 12 letter, in support of auto loans to consumers, and in the January 15 letter, limits on what I believe is a reference to GM Finance (now Ally)’s Christmas holiday move to turn into a bank so it could access funding. Contemporary reporting on the vote also did not mention the auto bailout (though there had been discussion that it might be used the previous month).

Moreover, there had been an auto bailout vote in the Senate (on a bill already passed by the House) on December 11, which failed. Both Bernie and Hillary voted in support.

So while Hillary’s attack was technically correct — Bernie did vote against giving Jamie Dimon more free money, which had the side effect of voting against the second installment on the fund that would eventually become the auto bailout — he did not vote against the auto bailout.

But Hillary’s attack did its work, largely because national reporters appeared completely unaware that they were fighting about TARP much less aware that there had been votes in December that directly pertained to the auto bailout. Even some local reporters now appear unaware of what went down in 2008-9. John Podesta helped matters along by sowing confusion in post-debate speeches.

Here’s one of what will end up being several exceptions to the shitty reporting on this that will come too late for people to figure out what actually happened.

During the testy exchange over the auto bailout, Clinton called Sanders a “one-issue candidate” for voting against the release of $350 billion in Jan. 15, 2009, to continue funding the bailout of the nation’s banks and mortgage lenders.

Sanders joined seven Democratic senators in voting against the second wave of TARP funds. President Barack Obama ended up using some of TARP to fund the $85 billion rescue of GM, Chrysler and their auto lending arms.

“If everybody had voted the way he did, I believe the auto industry would have collapsed, taking 4 million jobs with it,” Clinton said.

[snip]

David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama, questioned Clinton’s attack on Sanders’ voting record in the middle of the debate.

“It wasn’t explicitly a vote about saving auto industry,” Axelrod wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Clinton supporter, said after the debate that senators, including Sanders, were aware the TARP money would be used to aid the domestic auto industry.

“A lot of folks said we shouldn’t do it because somehow it was helping the banks,” said Stabenow, D-Lansing. “It was the auto bailout we were talking about. I was very clear with colleagues that we had to do this.”

Stabenow’s comment, incidentally, is proof that the money shouldn’t have been granted as it was (it wasn’t spent on auto companies until much later). While she’s right that there had been public discussion of spending some money on the auto bailout, there obviously was still so little limiting what the Executive could do with the money that there needed to be nothing explicit supporting the auto bailout to make it happen. The flimsiness of the guidelines is one of the things that enabled the Obama Administration to avoid providing real foreclosure relief, choosing instead to “foam the runway” for banks.

Don’t get me wrong. Bernie did a number of other things at the debate that hurt him last night, such as his comment about ghettos that suggested all African Americans are poor and no whites are. I think, too, the optics of his efforts to stop Hillary from interrupting him as well as his own gesticulating while she was making responses will go over poorly.

But the auto bailout attack was a pretty shameful ploy, one that otherwise would make it fair game to really hit on Hillary’s own actions in a way Bernie has not yet done. That said, it was also a probably perfectly timed attack, because it will ensure victory for Hillary on Tuesday, eliminating one of the last possibilities that Bernie might really challenge Hillary.

Update: As it turns out, Hillary should be attacking Stabenow according to her own standards, because Stabenow voted no on the first TARP vote that actually paid for the first tranche of funding to the auto companies. (Here’s the second, January 2009 one.)

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

29 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    Expect you’re right about the outcome in Michigan. Bernie has been so far down in the Michigan polls it seemed unlikely he was going to cover the spread. He closed the delegate gap by a few over the weekend. That’s probably as good as it gets for him until we get through the Ides of March voting.
    .
    No media coverage I saw about Sanders getting arrested for sitting in to desegregate at U of Chicago in ’63 while Hillary was a “Goldwater Girl” sitting on her butt in the ‘burbs.
    .
    Don’t believe Hillary expected the boos she got when she unveiled the I’ll release my speeches when the Repubs release theirs dodge.
    .
    The don’t say anything bad about the Queen now that she’s the nominee crap is especially hypocritical after her performance in the run up to the convention in ’08, but oh so Clinton.

    • Bay State Librul says:

      One commenter writes

      “If you go to Bernie supporter Robert Reich’s website you will be amazed to read that in first 10 years of NAFTA 400,000 manufacturing jobs were added to the US. After that, Robotics and Computerization killed lots of jobs NOT NAFTA. But now Reich, who helped design and pass NAFTA working for Clinton denys it, but his Website??. 24 million jobs added to USA sice NAFTA. Reagan killed Middle class NOT NAFTA”
      —-
      So is Reagan to blame?
      —-

  2. Les says:

    Manufacturing jobs plummeted after 2000. That was when the Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) started to die off after burning through their cash. The blip in manufacturing after NAFTA was due to the buildout of the networks to compete with the RBOCs.

    • orionATL says:

      this discussion is getting way too technical for my knowledge.

      sounds interesting but what in the world are clec’s and rboc’s and how relevant to autos? nafta? jobs? are something else.?

      thanks.

      • jerryy says:

        This may help you a bit:

        1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_local_exchange_carrier
        .
        2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_Bell_Operating_Company

        I suspect thought that memories of NAFTA and Sec. Sen. Clinton’s role in promoting it may have faded away from the sting it used to be.
        .
        She handily carried both North and South Carolina, two states that got hammered by the NAFTA Agreement.
        .
        http://www.epi.org/publication/briefingpapers_nafta01_impactstates/
        .
        Just for sadness, you can look up the decline of the textile and lumber industries in the Carolinas.

        • orionATL says:

          thank you for that info.

          i recall the decline of the textile industry in virginia. there was an effort to adjust, then collapse. but there seems to be some rejuvenation. one can hope like american the steel industry declined and regrouped (decades before nafta) .

          in s. c. the textile mills were in upstate i think, e. g., greenville (along with the peaches :) )

          i’m getting a history lesson this campaign in stuff i lived thru and did not really understand at all.

        • orionATL says:

          “the lumber industries in the carolinas”.

          that history i know. it was one side of my family’s history for generations back.

          “how did grandmother yy meet grandfather xy? both their families were in the timber business.”

  3. Denis says:

    This is going to be a hard sell, I know, but how HRC does in the primaries doesn’t mean squat. The primaries didn’t mean squat for McGovern in 1968; they don’t mean squat today. The only thing HRC will be running for come the Cleveland convention in July is a presidential pardon.
    .
    HRC’s peccadilloes on the debate circuit are soooo who-gives-a-shit. Pagliano being immunized is the biggest story this year and everyone except Andrew Napolitano is ho-hum. Look, this woman and/or her close aids are weeks away from a federal indictment. The grand jury is already sitting. Given your fascination and expertise with the law-tech interface, I would think you would be all over this by now. It is absolutely fascinating, and one of the top 10 political stories of our time. If you want to keep your “I told you so” mantra going in the weeks to come, you gotta’ be riding the leading edge now.
    .
    I know you and all of the libruls who check in here don’t watch FOX; I don’t watch FOX either. First, I don’t have a TV; second, I have a weak stomach when it comes to MSM demagoguery from right wing-nuts. But when Andrew Napolitano stakes his rep on saying a grand jury is already sitting and an indictment is coming (his guess: May), then you can be sure he is being fed very, very solid information while pretending that he has deduced how “grave” the situation is for HRC.
    .
    There are a number of YT’s of Napolitano explaining all of this, and they are good. I don’t particularly like the guy, but he is a very clear communicator, and, as I say, he has to have a source inside DoJ or he wouldn’t be committing to this story like he has the last week or so. Here’s a pretty good example of his stuff:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QLHyf17xCs
    .
    Napolitano focuses on the Email issue. In one vid he explains how attempting to circumvent FOIA is a felony, which is, of course, what HRC was doing by setting up the private server. Then there are issues about classification. HRC keeps saying that none of the Em’s “were marked classified.” True, b/c “classified” is not a security level so nothing is marked “classified.” Confidential, secret, top secret. IOW, true to the Clinton BS machine, she is pumping it out, depending on what your definition of “is” is.
    .
    I personally think charges of pay-to-play will be just as damaging. Either way, all it takes is one indictment of anyone on her team and she is 100% damaged goods and the back-room boys will make the call in Cleveland.
    .
    Given the Democrats’ back-room nomination process, Biden is more likely to be the nominee than HRC. More likely than Bernie. Cleveland has ordered 2000 storm-trooper armor suits for July to control the Bernieites when they get screwed. A Hubert Humphrey/Chicago redux.

    • Bay State Librul says:

      “Cleveland has ordered 2000 storm-trooper armor suits for July to control the Bernieites when they get screwed. A Hubert Humphrey/Chicago redux”

      If so, they will have to take I-76 East, 432 miles to Philly, where the Democratic Convention is taking place. It usually takes 6 and one half hours with light traffic.

      • Denis says:

        Bay state, that is so funny. Boy, did I screw that . . . thanks for the update.
        .
        I wonder what Cleveland is so worried about . . . Mexicans and Muslims going bonkers after Trump gets the nomination?? Don’t remember any Mexicans or Muslims in Cleveland last time I was there. Mostly Polish and Lithuanian Catholics. Best Polka bars in the country.
        .
        BTW, I meant to point out in that preceding comment that, like Biden, in 1968 Humphrey was VP of the outgoing Democratic president and did not participate in a single primary — they still gave him the nomination over the winner of the primaries, McCarthy. Hubert was establishment. McCarthy, was anti-VN and supported by every voter (not yet drafted) under the age of 30, but was not so wacko-left as Bernie. I’d vote for Bernie today if I hadn’t sworn off voting after the Nixon landslide in 1972. And the reason I’d vote for Bernie is voting him into office is probably the only way we’re going to get to see what his position on Palestine is. But that ain’t gonna’ happen.
        .
        I did not vote for McCarthy or McGovern in the 1968 primaries because I was a) too young to vote, and b) laid up in the Philly Naval Hospital recovering from a dust-up in VN. Back then you were old enough to get killed for your country when you were too young to vote. Didn’t even know there was an election going on, which is one unexpected benefit of being comatose. Wish I could be comatose this year. The good ole’ days . . .

        • Bay State Librul says:

          In the summer of ’69, I got my draft notice and took a half and hour ride to the Boston Army Base for my physical. Luckily, I was 4F (probably mentally deranged).

          As I aged, I felt guilty for my peers who served in Nam (We were soldiers once, and young)

          I did a story on one of my co-workers who rolled around in Agent Orange, and ended up
          blind, and suffering badly from that fucking poison dioxin. He was a First Louie and he died many moons ago.

          Hope you are okay.

  4. lefty665 says:

    Clinton attempted to interrupt Sanders as he was responding to the sewage she had spewed about the auto bailout. He had every reason to refuse to allow her to sling more. How many of her daily prayers yesterday were that the crap would stick to Sanders?
    .
    Thanks for sorting the facts out.
    .
    Any speculation how much it’s going to cost me to fulfill Clinton’s promise to get the encapsulated lead paint out of my 50 year old house in the next 5 years? How about the other 37 million houses HUD estimates have lead content?

    • Bay State Librul says:

      Here’s a hypothetical for you
      —-
      It’s Philadelphia and Bernie has just conceded the contest to Hillary. He thanks Hillary and says “we are all democrats, let’s beat the shit out of the Republicans.”

      Will you disavow your support for Bernie and bolt the party?

      The reality, I believe, is this: Bernie is a good man, but he is branded as a socialist and
      will never win the general election.
      —-
      I lost my idealism when Robert Kennedy was cut down. I would vote for Sanders if he is
      nominated, but it ain’t going to happen, unless the Dems are on a suicide mission.

      • lefty665 says:

        Bay State @8 “Will you disavow your support for Bernie and bolt the party?” You know that question makes no sense don’t you? I’ll respond to what it seems you were getting at and not take the Clintonesque cheap shot equating nonsense and Hillary support.
        .
        We bolted the party in ’11 when it became clear that there was no Change, more Same was all we were going to get, and that the disasters would keep on coming. That included resigning leadership posts in the State and Local Dem parties.
        .
        I spilled a lot of angst here in ’12 about lesser evil and people who called themselves Dems but had repudiated the New Deal. I ended up voting for Mr. Carefully Crafted Lesser Evil himself again out of fear Romney was going to win. NEVER AGAIN.
        .
        Dunno what we’re going to do this year, but I promise you we will not ever, not maybe, not lesser evil, vote for Clinton.
        .
        I’m an old fart, Sanders, Clinton and Trump are my peers. Far as I’m concerned we’re all too old to be president. For all the socialist noise, Sanders is really a New Deal Democrat. He was not a member of the party for the same reasons we quit. I like that.
        .
        I’ve voted in almost all election cycles, national, state and local, starting with the Hump in ’68. I hate heading into old age by abandoning my franchise. I hate even more abandoning integrity and heading off into the twilight having cast what could be my last vote for someone as fundamentally corrupt, dishonest, and sold out to the rich as Clinton.
        .
        Specifically in response to your question, as far as I’m concerned it is a question of values and personal integrity that transcend party. Bolting the Party is the easy part, been there, done that. It is a weight that has been lifted to no longer be required to defend the indefensible. I used to be a Yellow Dog Dem, no more. Try it, you might like it.

        • Bay State Librul says:

          I will never, never, never vote for a Republican.

          Besides your principles, look at the Supreme Court. Hillary’s choice will far exceed the
          dickheads.

          Look at Obamacare, they will try to fuck with that.

          I can go on and on.

          A Republican president will be devastating.

          • lefty665 says:

            Bay State @ 25 “Besides your principles, look at the Supreme Court. Hillary’s choice will far exceed the dickheads.” That’s part of what I’m afraid of, hers could be worse.
            .
            You’re right, “A Republican president will be devastating.” A Hillary president will too. Lesser evil is still evil. This may be a last opportunity for Change.
            .
            Fortunately there’s about 9 months to go before the election. We don’t have to vote today. Lots can, and likely will, happen between now and then. Hillary may be indicted or fall in the bathtub again. Or, even better, the transcripts from her Goldman Sachs speeches, among others, may leak and the other side of Hillary’s mouth will be exposed to the light of day. What is she afraid we will see in those speeches? What is she hiding?
            .
            In the interests of truth and an informed electorate, care to join me in a freedomofspeeches PAC?
            .
            “As I aged, I felt guilty for my peers who served in Nam (We were soldiers once, and young)” The SS and I spent about 7 years disagreeing over whether they should induct me. In the end they agreed hold off but kept me first in line until I aged out during Reagan’s first term. I spent the mid ’60s to early 70’s working to bring everyone home alive and safe. My guilt is that we did not succeed before 60,000 died.
            .
            The message today is the same as it was then, stand up for your principles and your country. Don’t give in to evil. No Hillary, no way.

  5. Casual Observer says:

    As you say, damage done. Sleaziest lie of the season. For that and other reasons, hard to see Sanders closing all that MI gap for a win. A close loss would be great at this point.

  6. bevin says:

    Just wait till Trump gets his chance to talk about how Hillary got so rich so quickly at the State Department.

    I think Sanders is a lousy campaigner who is making it really easy for Hillary but when the General Election comes one person who can’t accuse Trump of being either crooked, irresponsible or crazy is Hillary Clinton. Another is Marco Rubio. And Cruz really was born in Calgary.
    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2016/mar/07/presidential-election-2016-clinton-trump-sanders-cruz-flint-campaign-live

  7. bevin says:

    By the way your scenario has Sanders endorsing Clinton at the Convention. Don’t you see how that means that she would then be “endorsed by a scary socialist”? And therefore unelectable.

  8. orionATL says:

    clinton vs sanders

    political practicality vs white ideological liberals (the hyper-moralistic):

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/03/07/clinton-is-running-for-president-sanders-is-doing-something-else/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

    [… In fact, much of the debate revolved around the same basic argument between practicality and ideology that emerged the first time the two faced off on the debate stage, when Clinton declared, “I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.”…

    … Early in the debate, Clinton criticized Sanders for voting against the 2009 auto industry bailout. Sanders said that the auto bailout was folded into a larger bill that also bailed out the financial industry. He argued that “the billionaires” should have bailed out themselves, by which he means that Congress should have accepted his politically ludicrous plan to raise taxes in the middle of a recession. Clinton responded that Sanders chose purity over the public good. “You have to make hard choices when you’re in a position of responsibility,” she said. “If everybody had voted the way he did, I believe the auto industry would have collapsed.” Not only the auto industry. If Congress refused to respond practically to a moment of profound national crisis, it would have made the economic panic much, much worse and ruined many more ordinary people…]

      • orionATL says:

        thanks.

        that’s explains another mystery – why his post seemed so sensible.

        for some reason i see him cited in the context of economists who admire him.

      • orionATL says:

        it was this comment in drezner’s article that rocked me back on my heels:

        “… Furthermore, if Donald Trump has been campaigning on a big lie about the global economy, Bernie Sanders has been campaigning on two big lies. Sanders’s first lie, akin to Trump, is that he thinks trade protectionism will trigger a massive inflow of manufacturing jobs, when most of those jobs have disappeared from the face of the Earth…”

        i am not at all interested by any reference to” big lie” with regard to any candidate.

        but this got my attention:

        “most of those jobs have disappeared from the face of the earth.”

        that seems likely to me. there really is never going to be any going back to some fondly remembered past of bountiful, well-paying (manufacturing) jobs for high school grads.

        i sense we are well into a new era we entered some years past.

        repeated republican obstruction on federal support for education and training should be the political target.

  9. orionATL says:

    i see the mystery of senator sanders clearly now:

    sanders is don quixote riding rosinante de los bancos.

  10. lefty665 says:

    Look at the country of manufacture on things you buy. What do you see? China, Mexico, Indonesia etc, etc, etc. There are real people making those products, those are not robot workers. Many of those jobs originated in the US. They could still be here today. Wishing them all away as killed by automation is a “big lie”, propaganda from the fat cats who have profited from the exploitation of labor.
    .
    The US has lost about 1/3 of its manufacturing jobs in the last couple of decades. Some have been automated, most have been exported to profit the 1% and screw the rest of us. Trade deals have greased the skids on the race to the bottom.
    .
    Hillary liked every exploitative trade deal she ever saw until Sanders pushed her. Suddenly she decided she was better off opposing TPP. Any bets on how many minutes it takes her to pivot back if she beats him?

  11. lefty665 says:

    orion @21 Southside Virginia textile country, places like Danville and Martinsville have never recovered. They are still economic disaster areas.

  12. Denis says:

    @ Bay State #26
    “As I aged, I felt guilty for my peers who served in Nam (We were soldiers once, and young)”
    .
    @Lefty
    “The SS and I spent about 7 years disagreeing over whether they should induct me. In the end they agreed hold off but kept me first in line until I aged out during Reagan’s first term.”
    .
    I think the vast majority of us boomer-boys have had lasting regrets regardless what path we chose w/ respect to VN. There was no decision available that was going to be 100% “right” in retrospect. I enlisted in the USMC on my 18th birthday b/c I “knew” fighting against NVN was the right thing to do. I have regretted my own puerile patriotic stupidity ever since Kent State and the Pentagon Papers. The 1970’s took a larger toll than combat or getting wounded, certainly psychologically. Holes in your ass heal, the ones in your heart sometimes not.
    .
    In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” about VN, there is a poignant vignette of a kid who made a dash for Canada when he received his daft notice. He struggles with himself just a few yards from the Canadian border before giving into tears of resignation and going back home, likely a scene millions of boomers can still relate to. I live in Canada now and in the US expat crowd here I have met quite a few VN draft-dodgers. I am struck with, and impressed by, how proud they are – it’s one of the first things out of their mouths when you meet them.
    .
    Fortunately for Johnson and the US war machine, a lot of us at 18 were too shallow to listen to anything deeper than our John Wayne egos and our post-WWII jingoism; we were, after all, kids. In retrospect, the ones I admire most of all of our generation are those who confronted the government openly and honestly and went to prison rather than be drafted. David Harris once said that in prison he lost his ideals but not his principles. I fell sorta’ the same way about VN – it was such a cluster-fuck on so many levels that I could never really trust ideals again, mine or other people’s. As Rod Stewart said: “Look at how wrong you can be.”

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