Don’t blame President Obama for the auto company bailouts, blame Congress, says a Congressman:  Hoyer Claims Congress ‘Specifically Authorized’ Obama to Bail Out Auto Companies—Even Though Congress Specifically Declined to Pass Auto Bailout Bill

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) said at his press briefing yesterday that Congress “specifically authorized” the Obama administration to bail out the auto industry—thus legally justifying the government takeover of General Motors–even though the highly publicized and hotly debated auto bailout bill that Congress considered in December was defeated when it could not overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

What TARP legislation actually said:

In October, Congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which created the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), providing $700 billion for the Treasury Department to buy assets from “financial institutions.”  The law said nothing about purchasing anything, let alone ownership interests, from manufacturing companies such as General Motors.

What Congress actually said about car company bailouts:

Two months after TARP was enacted, Congress considered separate legislation to authorize the administration to bail out the auto industry.  This bill, sponsored by House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), was entitled the “Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act.” It was presented as a necessary piece of legislation to authorize the government to provide funding to distressed U.S. auto manufacturers while they planned the restructuring of their operations.  The bill was hotly debated in both the House and Senate and also in the national media. It passed the House, but was blocked in the Senate by a filibuster and never became law.

A crisis is an opportunity:

…“I think the Congress’s view on both sides of the aisle is that this is not something that the Congress would have chosen to do,” Hoyer continued. “Congress and the administration were confronted in the latter part of last year and the beginning of this year with a financial crisis and with a crisis in automobile industry and with a crisis in the economy overall…

And Congress should have known the President wouldn’t waste it:

“I can’t speak for everybody in Congress as to exactly what they envisioned,” said Hoyer, “but there is no doubt that Congress, both under President Bush and under President Obama, knew that it was giving to the Bush administration and the Obama administration broad discretion to try to meet the economic crisis that confronts us, to try to stanch the hemorrhaging of jobs, to try to get our economy stable and growing. So I think there’s no doubt that there was an expectation that it would be a broad exercise of that authority.”

Some of those in Congress for whom Hoyer apparently doesn’t speak are demanding some answers about the blank check Mr. Hoyer says they gave the White House.  Some in Congress Are Questioning Government-Led Bankruptcies of Automakers

A group of Republicans wants to give Congress veto power over the expenditure of any bailout money by the government to buy a stake in a company. They complain Congress had no opportunity to review the Obama administration’s decision to take 60 percent ownership of GM and a smaller stake in Chrysler.

“I think it’s all starting to hit us in the face what government-managed economies feel like,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who leads the Senate Banking Committee, scheduled a hearing for next week to examine the administration’s auto task force. Dodd said he wanted to review the use of taxpayer funds to restructure the auto industry and the decisions by the Obama administration to take ownership roles in GM and Chrysler.

Mr. Hoyer sees no need for special oversight of the government takeovers:

Speaking to reporters at his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Hoyer said that the various congressional committees were more than up to the task of overseeing the unprecedented government involvement in one of America’s oldest corporations.

The regular, standing committees will be exercising oversight, Hoyer said. He specifically mentioned the Financial Services, Education and Labor, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce Committees: “They will be exercising oversight,” Hoyer said.

“We have not created a specific oversight (panel) on the automobile issue,” Hoyer said. “There are other oversight authorities, as you know, but not specifically of the automobile industry.”

Congress feels the need to hold special hearings about steroids in baseball, but this unprecedented Federal intrusion into the free market is no big deal?  Bull.  He doesn’t want one group designated as a watchdog because then it will be harder for people to see and understand what’s going on with this rotten deal.  By the way, why is Hoyer out in front on this?  Is Ms. Pelosi’s mouth in rehab?

One state questions the constitutionality of using TARP for the Chrysler bailout:

Among the challenges the state is making to block the sale, is that using money from TARP is not constitutional because Congress only approved the use of that money for financial institutions such as banks, insurance firms and credit unions.

“The administration misappropriated funds because it is stated in the law this is for financial institutions,” Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock told “Is Chrysler a financial institution? Clearly not.”

It would be really great to see the President’s power grab slapped down in court.  A fantasy, I know, but a nice one.