White House Cheat Sheet: Obama Plays Hardball on Autos
The Obama administration's ouster of General Motors Chairman Richard Wagoner coupled with its decision to reject viability plans offered by GM and Chrysler represent a hard line stance toward dedicating government resources to a pillar of the American economy.
"We unfortunately concluded that neither plan submitted by either company represents viability and does not warrant the substantial investments they requested," said a senior administration official involved in the review process.
President Obama is expected to give each company a small time window in which to restructure but his decision not to offer a blank check to the auto industry represents a clear signal that the government will not simply throw money at problems to solve them.
The auto industry bailout (or lack thereof) lands amid a flurry of spending by the Obama administration as it seeks to -- among other things -- revitalize the economy, restructure the banking industry and curb home foreclosures.
It also comes as the House and Senate take up Obama's budget proposal in earnest this week with many conservative Democrats expressing concern about the level of spending outlined in the bill.
Context matters in politics and policy. And the message the Obama administration is sending with their hardball approach on the auto industry is clear: spending for spending's sake -- without significant accountability attached -- will not be accepted.
What To Watch For:
Monday Must-Reads: Monday, Monday.
1. The Post's Mike Shear sets the stage for the president's trip abroad.
2. The New York Times's Mark Leibovich profiles Joe Biden (he's the utility infielder of the White House) even as rumors surrounding the veep's daughter draw unwanted headlines.
3. Will North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R) next year?
4. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signs a law pushed for by pro-life advocates in her state as she heads out the door for D.C.
5. Rod Blagojevich: The Musical.
Kentucky Senate Gets Interesting: Late last week two things happened in Kentucky: the state legislature ended its session and the Democratic Senate primary got a lot more interesting. Gov. Steve Beshear released a statement endorsing the Senate candidacy of Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo in his challenge to embattled Sen. Jim Bunning (R) next November. Mark Riddle, an adviser to state Attorney General Jack Conway (D), who is also expected to run, pooh-poohed the Beshear endorsement almost as soon as it happened. "People will have to decide for themselves whether a tepid statement honoring a long-standing political commitment, done on a Friday afternoon while the Governor is out-of-town is indeed newsworthy," said Riddle. And, one Kentucky Democratic observer said Beshear's endorsement of Mongiardo made it more likely that state Auditor Crit Luallen would run for the seat as she believes she has a stronger chance than Conway to emerge as the alternative to the establishment Mongiardo. Rep. Ben Chandler, the strongest of the potential Democrats, is reconsidering the race but most people expect him to remain in the House.
A New Credit Card Campaign: A new group is funding print and television ads urging members of the House Financial Services Committee to support pending legislation that would eliminate so-called "interchange" fees on credit cards. The interchange fee is the amount a merchant pays a credit card company in any transaction when a credit card is used. The campaign will include print and television ads pressuring seven House members who sit on the committee: Reps. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and Walt Minnick (D-Idaho). There is also an ad "thanking" Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) for his past support of the elimination of interchange fees. The campaign, which is being funded by the Merchants Payment Coalition, is being organized -- at least at the start -- by Paul Tewes who served as state director for the Iowa caucuses for President Obama.
Ryan for (Lt.) Gov: Youthful Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan (he's 35) will announce that he is running for lieutenant governor later this week, according to two sources familiar with the decision. The LG's office is being vacated by Lee Fisher who is one of several candidates running for the seat of retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R) in 2010. Ryan would presumably run as the hand-picked choice of Gov. Ted Strickland and, if the ticket is elected in 2010, would be the obvious favorite to replace the term-limited incumbent in 2014. Ryan's departure will create an open seat in the House where state Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro would be an early favorite.
Say What?: "They thought it was pretty funny." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on his kids' reaction to his being mocked on "Saturday Night Live" during an interview with George Stephanopoulos.
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