The already hot debate over a bailout for U.S. auto makers is reaching inferno temperatures. The Senate could vote this week on a bill introduced today to rush aid to the ailing Big 3 auto makers.
The proposed aid would come out of the $700 billion financial rescue plan that Congress approved to help banks and other financial companies. Critics are saying, “Whoa! If we help the Big 3, every other struggling industry will be lining up for help.” Not to mention the fact that car manufacturers aren’t banks or financial companies.
Of course, it’s not that simple, given the interconnectedness of today’s economy.
While the sparks are flying on Capitol Hill, tomorrow on 360 we’ll look at a provocative question: What if the government doesn’t bail out the Big 3? What if Chrysler, Ford and General Motors were simply allowed to fail? One side of the debate warns that doing nothing would result in economic catastrophe; the other side sees the tough love approach as an opportunity for the industry to remake itself to compete in the 21st century global market. Tom Foreman has the story.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on saving the Big 3. Should the government give U.S. auto makers CPR – paid for with your tax dollars - or a huge helping of tough love?
We’ll also be keeping a close eye on the Obama transition. We’ll have the details on any new announcements about staffing and other appointments.
See you tomorrow!
Editor's Note: Hilary Rosen appeared on CNN’s Election Center tonight, below are her feelings about Bill Clinton’s effect on Hillary’s chances at becoming Secretary of State.
Campbell Brown: Hilary, what kind of things are they looking for in this vetting process? What is it that they're worried about? What kind of conflicts of interest that could pose problems?
Hilary Rosen: Campbell, I just have to say, though, this is somewhat maddening if you're, you know, a supporter of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or both. The Obama transition team is saying that the Clintons are being completely cooperative. The Clinton campaign - the Clinton team isn't saying anything. And we know that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have done more financial disclosure than any candidates in history. This - he's never made a nickel from his foundation. He has disclosed every source of income on her senate financial statements. So this kind of speculation that this evaluation is somehow going to hurt her is silly.
CB: In fairness, though, I mean, during the primaries there were a lot of questions that went unanswered about the fund-raising that went toward the Clinton library. And, yes, of course he was raising money for charity, but a lot of that is influence pedaling. You can't deny that. That's just a fact of life. And it's clearly worth vetting or the Obama campaign wouldn't spend the time on it.
HR: I don't think raising money for the presidential library for Bill Clinton is influence pedaling. And what the library has done with the Obama campaign is making the Obama transition team is making them fully satisfied. As far as his income goes or the Clinton Global Initiative, the things he's most directly connected to, he's had full disclosure on those things all along.
Could former president Bill Clinton's global connections cause a conflict of interest for his wife Hillary if she becomes Secretary of State?
Some political analysts say yes.
"I think that he knows a lot of world leaders, and he has informal conversations with those leaders, and those will be conversations that the (Obama) administration will not be able to track nor can they control," said Jeanne Cummings of The Politico.
There's also the money trail.
Mr. Clinton's foundation raised $81 million in contributions last year alone, some from foreign interests. The foundation does a lot to battle AIDS, malaria and climate change.
The former president says he's been on the lookout for any potential conflict between a donor's intentions and Hillary's job as a U.S. Senator.
"If there is even any kind of question we try to do exhaustive vetting. I can recall some money we haven't taken, and also some we did, but only after more than a year of efforts to make sure that everything was O.K. there," Mr. Clinton told Philanthropy.com.
Of course, the Clinton connections could also be a big bonus for Obama.
What do you think? Could the Clintons help or hurt the Obama administration?
Also tonight, we'll have the latest on the wildfires burning in Southern California. About 1,000 homes have been destroyed along with 41,000 acres. Thousands of people have had to flee.
All that and more tonight on AC360°.
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Anyone walking by the Capitol steps this morning saw one of the first real images of the change that's coming to Washington. Some 50 fresh-faced, newly-elected lawmakers were all smiles as they posed for their class picture.
But, that belied what was happening inside the halls of Congress.
It’s business as usual: Gridlock.
The old Congress is back in town this week for a lame-duck session, and the auto industry is begging lawmakers to avoid financial collapse.
But, calls for emergency assistance to Detroit are colliding with a partisan divide over where the money should come from.
On the Senate floor, we heard big speeches from the leadership about the need to work together.
Still, we could find no evidence that either side is sitting down to talk about how to bridge their differences on helping the auto industry.
Expectations for Barack Obama, already high, jumped even higher when his aide and longtime confidante, Valerie Jarrett, announced that the President-elect plans to create a White House office dedicated to urban affairs.
That would make good on a promise Obama made... "We need to stop seeing our cities as the problem and start seeing them as the solution. Strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, and strong regions are essential for a strong America..."
That sounds great, but it lacks a certain audacity....
Aaron David Miller
The Los Angeles Times
Having worked for six secretaries of State over 20 years, I have a pretty clear sense of what makes a good one - and with the economic and financial crisis overshadowing foreign policy these days, the selection of an effective secretary of State is now more imperative than ever....
The right persona. Freud may have been overly deterministic when he talked about anatomy as destiny, but when it comes to what it takes to be an effective secretary of State, he wasn't far off the mark. The nation's top diplomat needs to be an actor, a teacher, a tactician, an intimidator and.....
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Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain meets with President-elect Barack Obama at Obama's transition office in Chicago, Illinois, Monday.
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CNN White House Correspondent
Beyond the written statement with all the happy talk, one senior Obama transition official said the President-elect and Senator McCain also discussed a couple of hot-button issues – closing Gitmo and reforming the immigration system.
The official said that while the two men are in “broad agreement” about the need to shut the military prison down, they are still a long way from figuring out the details on how to implement it. But the official said this is one of many issues where the Obama team is “very pleased” that McCain is showing a willingness to work with the incoming President.
On immigration, the official acknowledged they didn’t get too far into the details and it’s a longshot they can get reform next year but they were pleased by how the meeting featured a lot of “very cooperative” promises.
The official said the other issues discussed included a “whole series of reform issues” ranging from McCain’s favorite – earmark reform – to even defense procurement issues.
The official jokingly added there was “no fistfight” as they largely steered clear of issues of disagreement from the campaign
CNN Pentagon Correspondent
1. The question of whether Defense Secretary Robert Gates would stay on the job, if asked by President–elect Barack Obama is a matter of “minute by minute” speculation around the Pentagon according to a senior defense official who said only Gates knows what is really going on at this point. The official said many senior department officials continue to internally discuss the possibility, but he noted Gates staying on “would be difficult in a practical sense,” because so many of the existing senior staff members are political appointees from the Bush Administration.
For example, two of the most influential senior staff members: Robert Rangel, chief of staff and Jim O’Bierne, chief of White House liaison are deep Bush political loyalists—who would have to be replaced—even though Gates has relied on them since the day he got here. Also all the undersecretaries and assistant secretaries would have to leave as a practical political matter, this official said. The bottom line is…do you really ask Bush loyalists to stay?
Nobody knows the answer. This person who is close to Gates but pretty even handed…says his read is Gates hasn’t been formally asked yet. He believes Gates is playing it very close to the vest, to see what the offer looks like, and what those critical staff arrangements would be. He acknowledges the current rumour of the morning is Gates staying, and Richard Danzig as deputy-and moving up. but who knows? Anything still possible…but if Gates stays the details will be awfully interesting.
Some Obama transition people were in the Pentagon on Friday. Top transition official Michelle Flournoy comes to the building today for courtesy calls.
2. Re Obama saying on 60 Minutes last nite he will close Gitmo. This same senior defense official who is a position to know says the Pentagon has long looked at two options. The brig at Charleston , and fed prisons. In addition to legal questions he says members of congress in those areas have been adamantly opposed. He says the estimate is there are currently about 80 detainees considered still to be such a threat they could not likely be released.