The Obama administration's arguably unconstitutional and potentially illegal makeover/takeover of General Motors and Chrysler hit a legal road block on June 8, when Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stay preventing Team Obama's plan to sell Chrysler to the Italian automaker Fiat. This speed bump was a great opportunity for the media to pay attention to objections to the White House's reckless executive-branch manipulation of the auto business.
President Bush and his team were regularly savaged by the media elite if they so much as sniffed a hint of evasion over the rule of law and the bounds of constitutional authority in fighting terrorism. So why is President Obama's unprecedented intervention in the auto industry, including a TARP-fund bailout expressly ruled out by Congress, all but ignored?
Even with the Supreme Court order, the nightly news shows of CBS and NBC gave the decision just a few seconds of air time, the equivalent of a stifled yawn, and never went anywhere near describing the strange bankruptcy proceedings the Obama administration has cooked up to manipulate the industry to its liking.
Only ABC acknowledged the Chrysler deal was "encouraged and engineered" by the Obama folks, and noticed that lawyers for the pension funds of "Indiana police, teachers, and taxpayers" were stopping the sale. But even ABC suggested that these state government employees were the bad guys, like vultures hoping that they'd make more money by taking Chrysler apart.
When Enron flat-lined in 2002, these same networks laid the blame all over the Bush administration while breaking out the violins for the people whose retirement funds were ruined. With the car companies and Obama, the song sheet is reversed. No one will go to the home of a retired Indiana cop and wonder why President Obama wants to deny him money for food and pills to sell Chrysler to a bunch of Italians.
Then there's the GM deal. Here are some of the anti-Obama arguments from plaintiff lawyers and conservatives that are going ignored on the nightly news.
1. Nationalization. Obama proposes the government will own 60 percent of General Motors. Not only will the taxpayer be on the hook for tens of billions in capital keeping GM afloat, but the taxpayer will be doing this after Congress ruled out such an action. Conservatives insisted during the fall campaign that Obama would govern as a "socialist." The media reacted with disgust. How does this massive intervention not underline the S-word in heavy red ink?
2. Politicization. Once the Obama administration is running GM, shouldn't a skeptical journalist wonder if common business sense is going to lose to a political agenda? Who is GM going to satisfy - the consumer, or Obama? Already, Obama is pledging more GM cars will be made in America and they'll make more fuel-efficient cars. They're handing large chunks of ownership to the United Auto Workers, which is surely a sleazy payoff for UAW campaign contributions.
Do we really want an auto company run like other government-run transportation concerns like Amtrak? Every decision - from closing dealerships or plants, to selecting suppliers or which vehicles to build, to collective bargaining with the UAW - will have to pass the Washington tests of political and environmental correctness.
3. Usurpation. The Obama Administration acted in complete disregard of the rule of law. The bailout was accomplished without congressional approval, and the money used was appropriated for failing banks, not carmakers. They trampled right over where the Constitution places limits on the President's ability to spend public money, stating "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law."
When Dennis Hastert was the Republican Speaker, he was so jealous of congressional prerogatives that he expressed outrage in 2006 at the FBI searching the office of corrupt Congressman William "Cold Cash" Jefferson (D-Louisiana), who was caught with $90,000 in FBI money in his freezer at home. Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks the powers of Congress are whatever Barack Obama decides they are. "If and when the Administration thinks that there should be legislation [on the auto companies], then we will take that up," Pelosi said in May. "We have not heard, I have not personally heard from the executive branch that they need any legislative remedies."
This massive Obama end-around of Congress and the Constitution should at the very least be a matter of controversy and debate. Instead, the national media are ignoring or downplaying the complaints of Obama opponents, as if any whiff of controversy over Obama's increasingly ruthless management of the economy would wreck a recovery. Barack Obama thinks he is America's car czar, and the media are not a check or a balance. They are merely the czar's enthusiastic servants.