Friday, 08 July 2011

Obama Car Czar Grilled About '09 "I Did This All for the Unions" Quote

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In 2009, in the middle of the automobile industry bailout controversy, White House advisor Ron Bloom, then “car czar,” told reporters, “I did this all for the unions.” When asked to clarify that statement recently, Bloom denied ever making it. Unfortunately for Bloom, however, credible sources indicate that the remark was in fact made by him.

On June 22, the Congressional Oversight Committee held a hearing to address a number of concerns regarding the controversial auto bailout. In the process of the bailout, Bloom apparently took “money from bondholders and handed it directly to the unions,” and also elected to cut salaried employee benefits while “giving strangely deferential benefits to the Unions in the middle of a bankruptcy," reports The Blaze.

For that reason, Bloom’s alleged remark about doing it “all for the unions” is of particular interest. During the June hearing, Representative Dan Burton (R-Ind.) asked Bloom to clarify his statement regarding the unions:

Burton: Did you say this at a dinner? There was a dinner, and it was reported by David Sheppardson, Washington correspondent for the Detroit News, at a farewell dinner of the auto task force held in the restaurant Rosa Mexicano in late July 2009 that you allegedly said, "I did this all for the unions."

Bloom: No I did not say that.

Burton: You didn’t say that?

Bloom: No sir.

Burton: So you were misquoted by the —

Bloom: That’s it.

Burton: Well, I’m going to call that guy and ask him if you said that … you know that you’re under oath here.

Bloom: I’m fully aware —

Burton: You made no comment like that at all?

Bloom: No sir. No, Mr. Chairman.

Burton: We’ll check that out. I’m going to call this reporter and see what he said.

The Blaze notes:

The problem is, Bloom’s denial contradicts two otherwise credible sources, including a book written by his car czar predecessor, Steve Rattner, and a published account in the Detroit News. Both claim that Bloom did in fact make the comment in question, though both accounts also agreed that it was made in jest.

Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, does not believe Bloom, and is refusing to allow the issue to slide. Issa sent a letter to Bloom demanding clarification, a portion of which reads:

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee considers the veracity of witness testimony essential to conducting serious oversight of the federal government and how taxpayers’ dollars are spent.

We want to give you an opportunity to clarify a series of statements you made under oath before the Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending on June 22, 2011, if necessary.

Despite your five denials, two independent sources documented you saying these words. David Shepardson wrote in the Detroit News on November 24, 2009, that you said you “did this all for the unions.” Furthermore, Steven Rattner — your former boss at the Auto Task Force — wrote in Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry, that at a “celebratory dinner” at Rosa Mexicano on July 21, 2009, that you said “I did this all for the unions!”

It appears that either a respected reporter and your former boss in the Obama Administration have both given inaccurate accounts of your comments to the public, or your testimony was not completely truthful. Therefore, if you would like to amend or clarify your testimony for the record, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible.

Whether Bloom will comply with Issa’s demands, or face any consequences for his statements, remains to be seen. In the meantime, the Congressional Oversight Committee continues to seek answers as to why union auto workers were given special consideration over the salaried employee workers in the automotive industry's bailout.

Photo of Ron Bloom: AP Images

 

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