Diary

Obama Loves Transparency, But Officials Won't Discuss the Big 3

There’s a lot of self-congratulation on the left about how open and accessible the Obama administration will be, but it seems there’s a lot of reluctance among his representatives to talk about the Big 3 bailout.

In a meeting Wednesday with Senate Republicans, incoming White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel did not rule out using some of the second $350 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to aid the automobile industry.

That stance did little to shore up GOP backing to release the money.

According to senators exiting the meeting, Summers and Emanuel told the lawmakers they will use the money primarily to aid financial institutions and swore off “industrial funding” for other nonfinancial industries. But they excluded the auto industry, leading senators to speculate that another installment to the Big Three automakers is forthcoming. General Motors Corp. has received $10.4 billion from the program, while GMAC LLC has received $5 billion…

It’s clear that the automakers are counting on more federal money — to such a degree that you’d almost conclude that some backdoor assurances have been given. UAW head Ron Gettelfinger is saying that a deal between the union and GM is ‘almost unattainable‘ by the February 17 deadline and that no formal discussions have taken place. Separately, GM’s president has said that the UAW doesn’t even need to take any pay cuts. It’s almost as if both sides think that the pressure for reform is off, and new money is on the way.

And now the Obama administration is asking for $350 billion more in TARP funding, and refusing to say whether some or all of it will go to the automakers? So much for Obama’s promises to be open and honest about his administration’s internal workings.