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Lawmakers from region rip Obama over Delphi

Published: Wed, July 11, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.

Johnson, Kelly accuse president of picking winners and losers





By David Skolnick



Two area U.S. House members accused President Barack Obama’s administration of picking winners and losers at a congressional hearing to discuss the inequitable treatment given to Delphi retirees.

U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, whose district includes all of Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County, and Mike Kelly of Butler, Pa., R-3rd, who represents most of Mercer County, criticized the Democratic president’s administration for how it handled pensions for Delphi retirees.

That came during a Tuesday hearing of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) and Financial Services.

The subcommittee in the Republican-controlled House titled the hearing: “The administration’s auto bailout and the Delphi pension decision: Who picked the winners and losers?”

The hearing included testimony from ex-auto czar Ron Bloom and former auto task force members Matthew Feldman and Harry Wilson about how decisions were made regarding the pensions of former Delphi workers.

Delphi retirees had their health care coverage and life insurance eliminated as well as pension cuts of 30 percent to 70 percent when the company declared bankruptcy in 2009 and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. took over their pensions.

Hourly retirees, largely United Auto Workers union members, were fully covered when General Motors, which received a bailout from the federal government, agreed to make up the difference between what the PBGC paid and what their pensions were supposed to be.

But salaried employees didn’t receive the same benefit. There are about 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees with about 1,500 of them in the Mahoning Valley.

“How can you say all parties were treated fairly?” Johnson asked Bloom, Feldman and Wilson.

Kelly, who owns a GM dealership, said the “government interfered with the natural flow of the business market” with the bailout. “They picked winners and losers.”

If the government didn’t get involved in the auto bailout, “it would have been worked out,” he said. “The problem was it cost too much money to build [vehicles] here.”

Several committee members, primarily Republicans, grilled Bloom, Feldman and Wilson, who defended the auto bailout, during the nearly three-hour hearing.

Among the most tenacious was U.S. Rep. Mike Turner of Centerville, Ohio, R-3rd, who started the hearing by saying the “happy train of silence” on the Delphi pension system ends Tuesday.

But at the end of the hearing, Turner expressed frustration with what the three key players had to say about the process.

Feldman, who was the auto task force’s legal adviser, said GM made the decision to cover hourly retirees at Delphi, its largest supplier, because it was a “reasonable and necessary decision” that was “critical to ensuring an uninterrupted supply chain.”

Government bailouts of private companies are “almost never acceptable,” Wilson said, but this had to be done “because we were on the edge of abyss” with the auto industry if the federal government didn’t step in.

Bloom said, “We all have great sympathy for those affected” by the loss of benefits and pension cuts. Wilson said “the human costs” of the bailout were “tragic,” including what happened to the Delphi retirees.

The three repeatedly said they didn’t recall politics playing a factor in the Delphi decision.

The three also said they would cooperate with a special inspector general investigation into TARP, with Wilson saying he was “too busy” to do so previously.

Bruce Gump, vice chairman of the Delphi Salaried Retirees and a retired Delphi senior engineer, said not much came out of the subcommittee hearing.

The three “tried to avoid being held accountable,” Gump said. “All we want is the truth. If the truth comes out, our opinion is it will support our position.”

The Delphi salaried retirees treatment has become an issue in the presidential election.

The campaign of Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has accused Obama’s administration of “stonewalling” and breaking promises.

Obama’s campaign counters that without the president stepping in to save the American auto industry, Delphi likely would be gone and all its employees would have lost their jobs. The campaign also accuses Romney of using the Delphi retirees to “score cheap political points.”


1RightofLeft(41 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Little Timmie can't get his lips unlocked from Obama's behind long enough to support his constituents.

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2rjohnbro(9 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

It's sad that These employees were mis-treated. GM has and continues to do this. I was forced out of GM and treated poorly, and lied to!! And now after what they did, they want me to buy there cars, Not foolish.

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3UNCOMMONSENSE(490 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Where is Robby Portman? Holding the door open as our companies leave the country,

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4Photoman(1052 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

I find it interesting that those who got their retirement have no interest in standing up for those who didn't. Guess it's a sign of the times--and the passing of our nation.

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5steelwagon(284 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Lets clear one thing up.
Obama did not save the auto industry and all of the loans have not been repaid

Of course obama's union cronies didn't give up anything.
They by far out number the salaried workers and he knew he would have to depend on the union vote for reelection.
Of course his appointed hacks are never going to admit that.

Oh how barry loves the union workers.
Funny that love doesn't extend to the gm union workers in Janesville Wi.
He doesn't have the stones to visit Janesville after gm closed that plant.

And he certainly doesn't want to hear what those union folks would like to say him him now.
He's going to find out it's not 2008 !!

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6LtMacGowan(686 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Yeah if only we could go back to the days of Company Towns and Company Stores. Where all the workers were required to buy/rent houses from the company, to buy all their goods from the Company store, Lets not forget Union organizers having to be smuggled from town to town in the trunks of workers cars to avoid being executed by company paid thug strike breakers.

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7greene(167 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Little Timmy is not a raciest like the rest of you Delphi people are...

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8redeye1(4983 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Little Timmy Is a coward, If Pelosi doesn't say okay to something. . He won't do it. All L.T. is worried about is his own a$$ and nothing else. I hope the people are wising up and vote him out in November.

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9redeye1(4983 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

gdog The new members did take a pay cut. But the older members didn't. The union leaders didn't take any cuts what so ever. So what steelwagon stated is true! GM is spending billions of our tax payers money building new plants in China.. But is BO saying anything about that? NO So yes I too will be voting for Mitt over BO in November

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10TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Good for the country? What about paying your "fair share"? A lot more free money to move "jobs overseas" in the next few years, no?


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11Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

So it is ok if all the right wing Fck the underclass , But God forbid if if they Fck the upper class . Get over it and buy American

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12AnotherAverageCitizen(1176 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

"Barack, didn't you learn the first time?"

Seems Willard does not learn either. Even the repubs didn't want him 4 years ago. And America certainly does not need him now.

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13southsidedave(5049 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Obama and all the rest of the politicians could care less about the average person in this country. Anyone who believes differently is a fool.

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14IslandMike(757 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Kelly, who owns a GM dealership, said the “government interfered with the natural flow of the business market” with the bailout. “They picked winners and losers.”

If the government didn’t get involved in the auto bailout, “it would have been worked out,” he said. “The problem was it cost too much money to build [vehicles] here.”

.....So, he thinks the solution is to close Lordstown? Yep, that'll do it!!

Obama saved the industry and this problem (global financial crisis) as we're now finding out was caused by bank deregulation and fraud in the banking system around the world. Just ask the boys at Citi about fraudulently adjusting interest rates and over in London about fixing the LIBOR rate.

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