Democratic and Republican members of the US House have suggested that they were deceived by Chrysler management and members of the Obama administration’s auto industry task force with regards to plant closings and layoffs related to the restructuring of the smallest of the “Big Three” automakers.
There is mounting evidence that this was the case.
When the Cleveland Plain Dealer reviewed the details of an April 30 conference call where details of plans relating to Chrysler’s restructuring were discussed with members of Congress – for an article headlined “Chrysler, Obama take the truth about plant closings for a spin” — it reached a conclusion that was as blunt as it was unsettling:
Were Congress members duped? If so, by whom and why?
The short answers appear to be yes, by both Chrysler and the White House.
The need for Congress to examine the specific question of whether members were deceived and the broader ramifications of the dysfunctional process by which the federal government is addressing the crisis in the auto industry is more pressing than ever.
Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars are being poured into Chrysler and General Motors, ostensibly to “save” the US auto industry. Yet, the companies have acknowledged that they plan to use the money to shutter factories, lay-off tens of thousands of factory workers and dramatically downsize dealership networks — at the cost of as many as 100,000 additional jobs.
Responding to that need, the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday held a “Ramifications of Auto Industry Bankruptcies” hearing that featured testimony from consumer advocate Ralph Nader; Public Citizen president-emeritus Joan Claybrook; Center for Auto Safety executive director Clarence Ditlow; National Association of Minority Dealers president Damon Lester; Chrysler dealer Randy Henderson; constitutional scholar Bruce Fein and law professors and legal analysts.
The hearing was called, at least in part, as a response to Nader’s prodding of Congress to exercise its oversight powers with regard to the auto company bankruptcies and bailouts.
Nader and Multinational Monitor editor Rob Weissman argue that: “The government-led restructuring of Chrysler and General Motors has been twice delegated — first by Congress to the Executive, and then by the President to a task force. Formally made up of cabinet officials and high-level political appointees, control over the process has in fact been delegated, without adequate standards, to a handful of special advisers. Thus has the future of a centerpiece of American manufacturing capacity been delegated to a small unelected and largely unaccountable group arranged to avoid the Federal Advisory Committee Act.”