November 12, 2008, 1:30 pm
White House to Detroit: Let Me Repeat, No TARP Funds
Henry J. Pulizzi reports on the White House.
Wall Street Journal
The White House said it will work with Congress to help the U.S. auto sector, but continued to reject the possible use of Treasury Department rescue funds for Detroit.
“We don’t think that that was Congress’s intent,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which top Democrats would like to open for the auto makers.
Perino also said the auto makers’ plight won’t be a blight on President George W. Bush’s legacy. “People can blame the president of the U.S. for a lot of things and a lot of things land on his desk, but the state of the auto makers right now is not the president of the U.S.’s fault,” she said.
Government help for the car makers will be in focus during next week’s lame-duck session of Congress, with lawmakers looking to expand the TARP or extend some other form of federal aid. President-elect Barack Obama also is pushing for more help for Detroit, including an acceleration of the $25 billion in loans already authorized for factory retooling.
Perino said the White House would listen to ideas to amend the legislation granting those loans, or speed the funds’ release. She reiterated the administration’s view that the money should go only to “viable” firms.
“I think everyone can agree that you wouldn’t want taxpayer dollars going to something that would not be a long-time concern or something that could actually succeed in the future,” she said.
With concerns that General Motors Corp. will need to file for bankruptcy without government help, Perino shed no light on the question of whether any of Detroit’s Big Three automakers is too big to fail. “The president of the U.S. believes that companies are responsible for finding solutions. However, this is an industry, as I’ve said before, that’s very important to the American people,” she said. “Congress and the administration and the companies have an obligation to put their best minds toward trying to figure out what we can do to the greatest extent possible to try to keep these companies viable. And if we can do that, we certainly will.”