(Mackinaw Bridge photo from Three if by Bike)
Ian and Jane described the solution Dems are crafting on the auto bailout: Roughly $15 billion from the DOE funds (originally intended to help automakers retool to make more efficient cars) would be repurposed into providing bridge loans for Chrysler and GM. After President Obama and the new Congress come in, that money will be replaced with TARP money, and a longer term plan will be developed to see the companies through this crisis.
Keep in mind though: this is just one battle in a giant pissing contest that is far from resolved. There have been three original positions in this pissing contest:
- Pelosi, Dodd, and Frank (and, presumably, Obama): Give the aid from TARP; save the environment and the domestic auto industry
- Bush, Paulson, and McConnell: Give the aid from the DOE funds after asking for the first born of every union worker
- Shelby and Corker: Bust the union and to hell with Toyota’s domestic competition and the Democratic voters it employs
A couple of events set the background to hearings in the last two days. Hank Paulson has begun calling for the second half of the TARP funds, as he has blown through most of the first $350 billion. Yet Democrats want to force Paulson to start bailing out homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure, rather than just bailing out Paulson’s friends on Wall Street. And since Paulson wanted to avoid spending any TARP funds on the auto industry, he wanted to avoid discussing TARP before the auto crisis was resolved.
In fact, in a stunning bit of arrogance that no one besides Jane really reported, Dodd had asked Paulson and Bernanke to attend Thursday’s Senate hearing on the auto crisis–and they refused! These assholes, who are preparing to ask Dodd for another $350 billion of our money, refused to show up before Congress, presumably because they simply didn’t want to talk about using TARP funds for bridge loans to the auto industry (note: at the hearing GAO agreed with Dodd that the auto loan request would qualify under TARP guidelines). I suppose because they simply believe the auto industry doesn’t fall under their mandate to keep the economy healthy?!?!
And then, of course, yesterday’s jobs report came in, with the news that our economy is hemorrhaging jobs. Which is reportedly when Pelosi blinked, and agreed to use the DOE funds.