Down the Road

Yesterday's jobs report put the fear of the Dreaded Private Sector into Washington (The DPS is the place where government officials never want to end up - in a real job, working for a living), and that means less leadership, more butt covering.
Jolted by news of the worst job losses in more than 30 years, congressional Democrats were near an agreement with the White House yesterday on a plan to speed at least $15 billion to the faltering Detroit automakers in hopes of averting the collapse of an industry that supports millions of U.S. jobs.
Funny, in the interrogations of the Big Three CEO's, one of the big concerns was that the $34 billion requested wasn't enough, and they'd come running back for more! Now, Congress wants to offer less - an official position of kicking the can down the road. Pelosi is so eager to get a deal done, she's now dropped her opposition to letting the Native American Car Makers use the $25 billion given a couple of months ago for retooling as emergency operating funds.
"Today's announcement of major job losses and findings from Congressional hearings from the last two days make it clear that Congress must work on a bipartisan basis to provide short-term and limited assistance to the automobile industry while it undertakes major restructuring," Pelosi said in a statement.
The sums being discussed by lawmakers and the White House fall well short of the automakers' request. Democratic aides said they are talking about providing $15 billion to $17 billion, which would be expected to see GM and Chrysler through the end of March, when president-elect Barack Obama would be in position to take over long-term plans for returning the industry to profitability.
There's the truth of it - this is an attempt to shift responsibility over to Obama and off of the shoulders of congress.
Democrats had urged the Bush administration to use a portion of the $700 billion rescue program to help the car companies, but Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. has insisted that those funds be reserved for stabilizing the still fragile U.S. financial system. Democrats were considering legislation to force Paulson to act, but they said it became clear yesterday that Republicans had the votes to block that move in the Senate.