Clinton charging Sanders with not supporting the auto industry bailout is a pretty clear example of cheap election-year tactics where you hope the talking point will resonate more loudly than the fact-checkers
By David Kiley
With the Michigan primary coming up Tuesday, Democratic party front-runner Hillary Clinton is trying to paint her challenger, Bernie Sanders, as having been against the auto bailout in 2009. Chalk it up to election year nonsense. The truth is both candidates were in favor of the auto bailout.
In the world of Congressional votes, the truth is seldom seen, but much mischief can be made.
During the debate in Flint, Michigan, a visibly tired Sanders did a poor job of explaining the confusion. I am not a Sanders supporter, but the truth is always important.
Secretary Clinton is chastising Sanders in the Motor State for not voting for the bill that created the funding for an auto bailout. Except, it wasn’t known that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bill, designed to bail out Wall Street banks from their subprime mortgage loan debacle that was crashing the economy, would be used to rescue the auto industry at the time Senators Sanders and Clinton voted on it. Clinton voted yay. Sanders voted nay. It was President Bush who signed the bill into law.
Later, in December 2008, the Senate took up a separate bill that would have provided rescue funds specifically for the auto industry. That bill failed to get the 60-vote filibuster-proof minimum when Republicans balked at saving General Motors GM +0.70%, Ford and Chrysler, in large part because they wanted to use the occasion to try and destroy the United Auto Workers union, which stood to benefit from a bailout by having their healthcare fund and pensions protected, and its interests prioritized over bond holders. Both Clinton and Sanders voted for this bill.
When the specific auto bailout bill failed, President-elect Obama telegraphed that he would use TARP funds after he took office to help GM and Chrysler (with Fiat controlling ownership) go through managed bankruptcies and help some auto suppliers get through the difficult period. And so he did.
Clinton charging Sanders with not supporting the auto industry bailout is a pretty clear example of cheap election-year tactics where you hope the talking point will resonate more loudly than the fact-checkers. Sanders supported the auto industry rescue, but did not want it to be part of the TARP vote. And it was not known that TARP would be used for the auto rescue at the time of the vote.
◾️ The Vermont senator says at a Monday rally in Kalamazoo that he voted in 2008 for the rescue of the auto industry in the Senate when it was a stand-alone issue and not included in a bailout for Wall Street. The Senate measure ultimately failed and President George W. Bush approved more than $13 billion in federal aid to the automakers.