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“Bush Punted”


Henry Payne’s latest on the auto bailout is a good explanation of what happened. That quote from the supplier at the end of the piece is particularly damaging to the Bush administration’s case.

Allow me add the following depressing footnote: The administration’s plan calls for providing $17.4 billion to GM and Chrysler between now and March 31. That money will come in two installments — $13.4 billion this month and $4 billion next year.

As far as I’ve been able to gather, that $13.4 billion represents all that remains of the initial $350 billion installment of the $700 billion bailout. Congress will have to release the second installment of $350 billion if this administration or the next is to provide the additional $4 billion that GM and Chrysler say they need. I asked a well-placed source in the House GOP if there was any chance Congress could block that second installment.

He said the deck is stacked in favor of releasing the funds. First, it’s going to be a different Congress that convenes next year — a very different Congress, especially if Al Franken prevails. Second, the $700 billion bailout was structured in such a way that Congress would have to vote not to release the funds, meaning that Senate Republicans couldn’t use the threat of filibuster to block their release. Third, even if Congress did vote affirmatively against releasing the money, the president could simply veto this act, and it would take a supermajority to override him.

So Bush has essentially handed GM and Chrysler to the Democrats to do with them what they will, and he has handed the bill to the taxpayers. A disappointing finale, to say the least.


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