Monday, 11 July 2011

Obama's Car Czar Praises Mao, Violence to Achieve Goals

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Ron Bloom (left), President Obama’s former car czar, has been finding himself in hot water as of late. First, he has been called on by the House Oversight Committee to answer for actions he took and statements he made in the midst of the controversial auto bailout in 2009. Then, the same committee demanded that the czar explain his remarks of praise for Chinese dictator Mao Zedong and his clear affinity for violence in order to achieve particular goals, all of which were captured on video and aired on Fox News’ Glenn Beck Program.

Conservative pundit Glenn Beck was one of the first major media outlets to expose car czar Ron Bloom for statements he made in praise of Mao Zedong’s violent tactics. Beck aired a video clip of Bloom issuing the statements in 2009. The same video clip also exposes Bloom as a staunch opponent of the free market system. The clip features him making the following assertions:

Generally speaking, we get the joke. We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system. To beat the market or at least find someone who will pay a lot of money 'cause they’re convinced that there is a free lunch. We know this is largely about power, that it’s an adults-only no limit game. We kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun and we get it that if you want a friend you should get a dog.

The Blaze ??explains:

When the video surfaced of this top White House official praising the Chinese communist, Beck used the clip to help build the growing narrative of Obama officials’ admiration of aggressive and oppressive governments. Of course it can often seem that these revealing details are lost in the fast moving news cycles and giant machinery of the bureaucratic system.

As noted by The Blaze, the video failed to garner the necessary media attention to tarnish Bloom’s reputation, at least until now. During a June 22 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending on the leading implications of the General Motors bailout, Congressman Connie Mack questioned Bloom on a number of items, including his statements pertaining to the free market and Mao. The Blaze continues,

Until recently when Congressman Connie Mack (R-Fla., 14) brought a little poetic justice to our political process during a late June hearing for Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending by asking Mr. Bloom a tough series of questions about the remarks he made in the video. Mack played the clips for Bloom as he awkwardly tries to explain them away.

The question/answer session between Bloom and Mack went as follows:

Mack: Do you believe that the free market is nonsense?
Bloom: No I don’t.
Mack: Alright then, let me ask, if I could, for the first clip to be played.
(The first part of the video clip aired on the Glenn Beck program was played, wherein Bloom calls the free market “nonsense”.)
Mack: That is you, isn’t it, Mr. Bloom?
Bloom: Yes it is.
Mack: Ok, so do you believe that it is appropriate for somebody who has been a union leader, and someone who doesn’t believe in the free market, to then be picked by the President and placed in charge of restructuring a private company in our American free market?
Bloom: Well, first thing, I think a comment I made in jest at a speech does not represent my view on this matter. Second thing, I would leave to others whether or not the choice of my work, the choice for me to work on this is appropriate or not, and I was part of a large team. There were about a dozen people at the staff and Treasury Department —
Mack: Alright, well let me just get back to this. But that was you making that comment.

Mack then went on to question a statement Bloom had made during a speech in 2006 before the International Association of Restructuring Insolvency and Bankruptcy Professionals Arizona, where Bloom referenced a “dentist chair bargaining technique.” During the interrogation, Mack asked Bloom to explain the reference. Bloom replied:

In a lighthearted speech, I indicated I thought it was important that all parties to the bargaining table had some skin in the game in order to produce the best result. [The dentist chair bargaining technique] is a reference to how a person might go into the dentist office and make sure that the dentist doesn’t hurt them. They would do that by making clear that they also had leverage on the dentist by grabbing him where it might hurt.

Visibly disgruntled, Mack went on to attempt to confirm and summarize Bloom’s philosophies and background:               

So you think the free market is nonsense…you worked either for or on behalf of unions. You believe that there is a way to bargain by making sure that the dentist feels the pain. There are some people who might disagree with your approach. 

He then played the rest of the video clip wherein Bloom praises Mao and criticizes the free market, and asked Bloom whether his statements are representative of leadership in the unions. Bloom replied, “I think it’s representative of trying to make a point through exaggeration.”

According to Mack, exaggeration was not the most appropriate approach at a time when Americans were hurting the most.

Ultimately, Mack concluded that it was a poor choice to place Bloom in any position of power, particularly one that involves the restructuring of a private enterprise within the American free market. He attempted to learn how Bloom acquired the position in the first place, and whether Obama played a key role in the decision, but was given an elusive answer.

During that same hearing, Bloom was also called upon to answer for a statement he made in 2009 in the midst of the automobile bailout. On June 22, Representative Dan Burton asked him:

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."

Though Bloom adamantly denied making such a statement, The Blaze notes that it was credible sources who levied the claims that he in fact did make the statements:

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.

What is so problematic about Bloom’s statement, “I did this all for the unions,” is that the House Oversight Committee is in the process of investigating actions that took place during the auto bailout, most notably that the unions benefited greatly while salaried employees faced extreme benefit cuts. As the committee is particularly interested in learning why the unions seemed to have been given special consideration during the bailout, Bloom’s confession that he “did this all for the unions” is of particular interest.

Though Bloom is no longer the car czar, he continues to serve in the Obama administration as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury,  Director of the President’s Task Force on the Automotive Industry, and the Administration’s Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy.



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