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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/31/09

Obama on the Auto Industry

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When Will Obama Question the Viability of "Too Big to Fail" Financial Institutions?

As I read through the words that Obama delivered recently detailing his administration's plans for the auto industry, I wonder what would happen if these words were for the financial industry instead of the auto industry.

Imagine Obama addressing Wall Street with the candor he used to address GM and Chrysler.

Consider what it would be like to have an Obama Administration with the fortitude to put its foot down and say to financial institutions which are deemed "too big to fail", "Enough!"

What if Obama had said of financial corporations on Wall Street:

"The pain being felt in places that rely on our financial industry is not the fault of our workers; they labor tirelessly and desperately want to see the companies and investments they have put their faith in succeed. It's not the fault of all the families and communities that supported Wall Street throughout the generations. Rather, it's a failure of leadership -- from Washington to New York -- that led our economy to this point."

What if Obama said, "We cannot continue to excuse poor decisions. We cannot make the survival of financial corporations dependent on an unending flow of taxpayer dollars. These companies -- and this industry -- must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state," to Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, AIG, and others on Wall Street expecting a helping hand from those in Washington? 

Why hasn't the Obama Administration been adamant about restructuring "bailed out" financial institutions like it has been with General Motors and Chrysler? 

Can you imagine Obama telling a bank in need of government assistance, "I'm announcing that my administration will offer  a limited additional period of time to work with creditors, unions, and other stakeholders to fundamentally restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional taxpayer dollars. During this period they must produce plans that would give the American people confidence in their long-term prospects for success?"

Is it easier for Obama to apply more pressure to GM or Chrysler than Wall Street because it's so easy to look at the situation with GM or Chrysler and use it to force unions and workers to make concessions? 

How will Obama's plan to give "GM an opportunity to finally make those much-needed changes that will let them emerge from this crisis a stronger and more competitive company" be reconciled with the reluctance to do the same with financial institutions that were engaging in destructive forms of casino capitalism? 

If Obama is going to have the government step in to preserve warranties, why couldn't similar actions be taken to revitalize 401Ks, etc., which are significantly lower than before the Wall Street bailout-credit crunch typhoon hit America?

Finally, while all those questions are valuable and worth asking, one trumps them all.

What if we heard Obama speak like this to the American people when referring to Wall Street? 

"I will fight for you. You're the reason I'm here today. I got my start fighting for working families in the shadows of a shuttered steel plant. I wake up every single day asking myself what can I do to give you and working people all across this country a fair shot at the American Dream...

...These efforts, as essential as they are, are not going to make everything better overnight. There are jobs that won't be saved. There are plants that may not reopen. There's little I can say that can subdue the anger or ease the frustration of all whose livelihoods hang in the balance because of failures that weren't theirs...

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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