Grassley likes Obama's double standard on bailout recipients

Like a lot of Democrats, I’m not happy with President Barack Obama’s double standard on bailouts. If you’re a Wall Street financial giant, the federal government will shovel tens or hundreds of billions of dollars your way, without demanding basic accountability. The executives who ran those firms into the ground aren’t fired, and they even get their inflated bonuses because (according to the White House) there’s nothing they can do about bonuses that were promised in contracts.

Meanwhile, automobile manufacturers who asked the federal government for loans in December got a long list of strings attached. Now President Obama has made sure General Motors’ CEO got the boot and wants Chrysler to merge with a foreign company. Even then, the White House is indicating that GM and Chrysler may be headed for bankruptcy. If that happens, you can be sure that the United Auto Workers will be forced to accept huge concessions. Apparently what middle-class UAW members were promised in contracts is less important than the million-dollar bonuses AIG executives were promised.

David Sirota thinks Obama’s approach is reviving the tactics of Reaganism:

Reagan famously backed a massive increase in the defense budget and corporate welfare while pretending to be a budget hawk by bemoaning the supposed wastefulness of programs like welfare – programs whose expenditures were tiny in comparison to those on the Pentagon and corporate welfare.

Likewise, we’ve seen Obama support giving away hundreds of billions of dollars – no strings attached – to Wall Street banks while simultaneously presenting himself as getting tough on Corporate America with his promise to hold the auto industry accountable for its failures. Of course, the automakers are asking for a tiny fraction of what Wall Street has already gotten.

Look who loves Obama’s Reaganesque approach: Senator Chuck Grassley.

Grassley says it’s an issue of letting capitalism run its course. Grassley says, “When the government is intervening to make that point, it appears to a lot of people to appear to be a government running a private corporation and is that good? That’s the questions that are raised.” Based on the latest actions, analysts believe G-M and Chrysler will surely face bankruptcy, a merger or both.

Grassley says that’s the way the system works. “It’s a balancing act between being good trustees of the taxpayers’ money when it’s given to corporations like General Motors and the extent to which you rely just simply upon the company to make the decision.”

That’s classic Grassley–upset over the prospect of some money going to manufacturers but content to let the Troubled Assets Relief Program of the Wall Street bailout consume trillions. Hey, it’s just how the system works. Will the Iowa media call out Iowa’s senior senator on this hypocrisy? Don’t count on it.

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  • Larry Summers

    I could be looking for a boogey man here, but I see the fingerprints of Larry Summers all over these proposals.  Larry Summers is a bright guy, but he is also no fan of American manufacturing of any kind.  I do agree with him on some issues, but he is also a sexist pig in a completely unrelated note.

    To tell you the truth though I do go back and forth on a bailout for the big three automakers given that solid Democrats and a true blue collar hero like Jon Tester is opposed to the idea.

    • Summers and Geithner

      are the two worst Obama appointments, and of course the president is influenced by his economic team.

      We can argue about the right policy toward the automakers. The have been managed poorly for decades, in my opinion. (Mr. desmoinesdem has a friend who worked in GM’s electric car division during the 1990s–he said it was always clear the company had zero interest in developing what they were working on.) Maybe Obama is right to drive a hard bargain with the automakers, but he should certainly be equally tough on financial giants who have received 5 or 10 times the amount GM and Chrysler are asking for.