Saving white collar executive jobs at America's financial instututions? Vital to the American way of life. Saving millions of blue collar union jobs? The industry is not viable.
The White House Monday came out swinging against a Democratic plan to aid America's ailing auto industry, as the Senate prepared to debate a $25 billion package.
"We believe that this assistance should come from the program created by Congress that was specifically designed to assist the automakers -- from the $25 billion Department of Energy loan program," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino in a lengthy statement.
Senate Democrats want to use a different $25 billion from the financial rescue package passed last month. The White House wants to use the same amount from a loan, passed in September, to help carmakers improve fuel efficiency.
"We should not seek ADDITIONAL funding while $25 billion sits available in a program that was designed for automakers. Congress should instead amend the Department of Energy's loan program to ease the availability of those funds and relax restrictions on their use -- as long as qualifying firms make the difficult decisions to demonstrate their viability going forward," she said in a statement.
Democrats contend the fuel efficiency money was meant to help carmakers for that purpose, not to help them survive financially.
But, Perino said, there's also a philosophical argument for not allocating $25 billion from last month's program.
"Taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize private companies that are unwilling to show that they can be viable. It is clear that U.S. automakers must restructure in order to be viable," she said.
Republicans hate blue collar workers. They don't care if Joe the Auto Plant Worker loses his job at all. Joe the Hedge Fund Manager? We need to spend $4 TRILLION NOW, and any more would be fiscally irresponsible.
Given the speed at which the federal government is throwing money at the financial crisis, the average taxpayer, never mind member of Congress, might not be faulted for losing track.If the White House can go out of its way to see the last major unionized industry destroyed and the jobs laid on Obama's doorstep, so be it.
CNBC, however, has been paying very close attention and keeping a running tally of actual spending as well as the commitments involved.
Try $4.28 trillion dollars. That's $4,284,500,000,000 and more than what was spent on WW II, if adjusted for inflation, based on our computations from a variety of estimates and sources*.
Not only is it a astronomical amount of money, its' a complicated cocktail of budgeted dollars, actual spending, guarantees, loans, swaps and other market mechanisms by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and other offices of government taken over roughly the last year, based on government data and new releases. Strictly speaking, not every cent is directed a result of what's called the financial crisis, but it arguably related to it.