With Senate Republicans intent on doing nothing, the White House (which supported the auto industry bailout so strongly that Dick Cheney actually went to Senate Republicans on Wednesday and said, “If we don’t do this, we will be known as the party of Herbert Hoover forever”) is considering using a portion of October’s $700 billion bailout package intended for Wall Street to save the automakers. Here’s a press release from Press Secretary Dana Perino:
It is disappointing that while appropriate and effective legislation to assist and restructure troubled automakers received majority support in both houses, Congress nevertheless failed to pass final legislation. The approach in that legislation provided an opportunity to use funds already appropriated for automakers, and presented the best chance to avoid a disorderly bankruptcy while ensuring taxpayer funds go only to firms whose stakeholders were prepared to make the difficult decisions to become viable, competitive firms in the future.
Under normal economic conditions we would prefer that markets determine the ultimate fate of private firms. However, given the current weakened state of the U.S. economy, we will consider other options if necessary – including use of the TARP program — to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers. A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy, and it would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time.
That’s how off-the-deep-end congressional Republicans have become. They’re making the Bush White House look sane.
Update: Speaking of off-the-deep-end, one conservative blogger is now claiming that benefits to gay partners are sinking automakers.
More Substantive Update: Treasury is telling the press it will only do enough to keep the Big 3 afloat until January, when the new Congress (which will have larger Democratic majorities) can decide on a more permanent course of action.