Friday, December 12, 2008

Bush's Dilemma: The Auto Bailout

Last night, the auto company bailout died in the Senate. This was all due to a strong block of Republicans opposing it. This morning, the White House announced that they will use the TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) or, in other words, the previously approved Congressional bailout money (the famous $700 billion)to provide a temporary bridge until Congress reconvenes.

Bush is doing this because he doesn't want to be seen as the "President who killed the auto industry in America." He also doesn't want to be associated with providing government funding and the subsequent debt to an auto industry that he and most people feel will continue to fail. That's because anyone with an ounce of brain power knows that funding without deep restructuring will just wind up being political suicide down the road. Instead, he would like to leak just enough money to get the autos limping into the next Administration's hands. This way, the full $35 billion needed by the auto companies will be tagged to Barack Obama and the Democrats. Then, if that money fails to resuscitate the autos, the whole mess will be sitting squarely in the laps of the Democratic party: from Barack to Reid to Nancy Pelosi.

For sure, the auto companies will get their help through to the next Congress; but, without any Republican senatorial help. The Democratic leadership will not be happy because they wanted the Republicans to be in bed with them on this. That way, the Democrats would have had political cover in the event that this funding doesn't work (Which it won't!). But, on the other hand, the Democrats will be somewhat happy because they will have been seen as working with Bush to save the auto companies and the United Auto Workers union. Bush will be happy because he will be able to "Pontius Pilot" himself from this problem and not have it be another stain on his legacy. The auto companies won't be too sad because they know that they will ultimately get their full amount of funding when Congress reconvenes under a new President. Now, is everybody happy?

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