themcglynn.com

07 Mar

Clinton accused Sanders of being “against the auto bailout” in 2009

The McGlynn: That’s a stretch, if not a damn lie.

The Democratic presidential candidates met in Flint, Michigan, for the March 6 debate, hosted by CNN.
Clinton: Sanders Against Auto Bailout

Clinton accused Sanders of being “against the auto bailout” in 2009. That’s a stretch.
Clinton: He was against the auto bailout. In January of 2009, President-elect Obama asked everybody in the Congress to vote for the bailout.

… I voted to save the auto industry. He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry. I think that is a pretty big difference.

In fact, Sanders voiced support for a $15 billion package of aid to the auto industry after it passed the House Dec. 10, 2008, in the final days of the Bush administration. The measure was supported by President-elect Obama and an overwhelming majority of House Democrats, but died in the Senate when it failed to reach the floor for a vote.
After the Senate failed to act, President Bush decided to help automakers by tapping the Wall Street bailout package that Sanders had opposed and then Sen. Clinton had supported on Oct. 1, 2008. Specifically, Bush agreed to provide $13.4 billion to GM and Chrysler in Troubled Assets Relief Program funds, as explained in a January 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service.
Clinton referred to a bill that came up in January 2009, but that measure was mostly about bailing out failing financial institutions and reducing home foreclosures, not about saving the auto industry, as Clinton claimed.
The Senate vote on Jan. 15, 2009, was on a measure that would have blocked the Treasury Department from gaining access to the second half of a $700 billion Wall Street bailout package. President-elect Obama urged Senate Democrats to allow the release of the second $350 billion — which included an additional $4 billion already promised to automakers by Bush. But Obama made no mention at the time of using TARP to provide any more money for the automakers.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Obama’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, promised that Obama would devote $50 billion to $100 billion of the $350 billion to “a sweeping effort to address the foreclosure crisis.”
The only mention of possible aid to automakers came almost as an afterthought, in the second to last paragraph. Summers wrote: “Firms in the auto industry … will only receive additional assistance in the context of a comprehensive restructuring designed to achieve long-term viability.”
It’s true as Clinton said that she voted to release the money, and Sanders voted to block it. And ultimately, the Obama administration disbursed nearly $80 billion to General Motors, Chrysler Corp. and others in the auto industry (all but $9.3 billion of which was eventually paid back).
But at the time of the vote, it was by no means clear that Obama would use more than one-fifth of the $350 billion for an auto bailout. And most of the money still went for the bank bailouts that Sanders opposed.
So Clinton’s claim that her Jan. 15, 2009, vote was “to save the auto industry” is — to be charitable — quite a stretch.

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