May 21, 2009

More Chrysler Bankruptcy News the National Media Won’t Use: Congressmen Demanding Documents From Company And White House

ObamaAndCarGuysChryslerBk0509On May 15, I posted (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on the Obama administration’s and government-run Chrysler’s blatant deception concerning whether plants would be closed as a result of the company’s bankruptcy filing.

Specifically, on April 29 and 30, Obama, the administration and Chrysler told senators, congressmen, state and local politicians, and local and regional union leaders that the bankruptcy (these are Obama’s words) “will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or the communities that depend on it.” Those who heard this and other reassurances reasonably concluded that no plants would be permanently closed. But on May 1, government-run Chrysler announced that it would close plants in Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Days later, hundreds of Chrysler dealers were terminated.

The national media establishment has treated all of this as a non-story, so I expect it will do the same with this update from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It includes news that two Ohio congressmen, one Democrat and one Republican, are demanding documents relating to the who, what, where, when, and why of the plant-closing decisions:

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve LaTourette today introduced legislation that demands the White House better explain why it painted a positive portrait of Chrysler’s future for all communities, only to be contradicted hours later with news of plant closings.

“Many people feel misled by this entire process,” said LaTourette, who with other Congress members, governors and mayors believed from President Barack Obama’s April 30 announcement that no permanent plant closings were planned.

Obama that day announced a short-term Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Chrysler in exchange for government aid, saying, “It will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or live in communities that depend on it.”

Obama, his automotive task force and Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli that day separately described some temporary steps needed to restructure the automaker and help it merge with Italian car maker Fiat. None of the parties mentioned permanent plant closings. Twinsburg officials, as well as those in other locations, only learned a day later that the thick bankruptcy filing contained plans to permanently shutter five Chrysler factories, including the Twinsburg Stamping Plant.

Reacting to outrage from LaTourette and others, Nardelli soon apologized. But LaTourette is not satisfied.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a Cleveland Democrat, already has demanded further information from Chrysler, including any transcripts of conference calls between the company and public officials, and he left open the possibility of demanding the same from the White House. LaTourette, a Bainbridge Township Republican, is not waiting for that possibility.

He introduced legislation today demanding that the administration provide all information it has regarding the closing of Chrysler plants and 789 dealerships nationwide. If successful, his resolution would force the White House to provide all documents, records and communications regarding scheduled Chrysler plant closings that were not divulged by the administration or Chrysler until the plant names appeared in a bankruptcy filing, LaTourette’s office said.

…. Just days before the bankruptcy filing, the local United Auto Workers union had approved a new contract made in order to keep the 1,250-worker Twinsburg plant open. Union members approved it by an 88 percent margin, LaTourette noted.

“I don’t think it’s logical that you’d vote by an 88 percent margin to kill your job and close your plant,” LaTourette said. “There’s nothing more disruptive to a community than losing its largest employer. If this was the plan all along, fine, but I believe it was intentionally kept from key stakeholders and that’s not right.”

Plain Dealer Washington Bureau Stephen Koff, who has been virtually alone in covering this story, notes that LaTourette’s resolution has eight Republican co-sponsors.

The only reason that LaTourette’s move would not be considered newsworthy is that the congressman would appear to have little chance of success in getting anything out of Obama or the White House, despite the President’s all too familiar and now all too often broken promises of “transparency.” But the possibility of a resolution’s success has seldom stopped the national press from trumpeting such actions if taken by just about any Democrat or “growing in office” Republican if they happen to represent negative press for a conservative president or governor.

The fact remains that Obama really lied, and jobs really died — and union jobs to boot.

That is news, regardless of whether the national media establishment chooses to report it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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