The Guns Of February
It is being reported that Bush and Obama worked together on the $17.4b bailout package announced today, to avoid saddling the incoming chief executive with “the demise of a major American industry in his first days in office.” And based on Obama’s statement on the bailout today, it seems that he’s preparing yet more assistance for Detroit. Provided of course that automakers don’t “squander this chance to reform bad management practices and begin the long-term restructuring that is absolutely required to save this critical industry and the millions of American jobs that depend on it.” Ironically though, the bailout’s structure does dump the problem on Obama before even the March 31 date. Dow Jones (via CNN Money) reports that the final $4b of Bush’s bailout (designed to carry the restructuring firms through February) can not be doled out without congressional activation of the second half of the TARP fund. And Bush ain’t gonna even try. “It’s not necessarily true that this administration, in the remaining 31 days, I believe, will go back to Congress,” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan said. “What is clear is that the Treasury, with these loans (the initial $13.4b), have effectively committed the first $350 billion from the TARP.” Which means Obama will have to request that congress open the final $350b before the March 31 deadline, and only days into his presidency. And if he does free up the $350b (which he is far more likely to accomplish than Bush), well why the hell not give Detroit even more? We sure wouldn’t be surprised.