Obama, Detroit, and Pink Slips

The pundit gears are churning and even amidst all the chicanery—like private “advisors” sucking away big portions of the federal bailout money—the main question is what kind of administration Obama will run. As I see it there are two big schools of thought. Some, like Alexander Cockburn, expect Clintonesque right-of-center compromises. Others predict forceful progressive reform. Okay, maybe his appointments answered that question. But some still predict that Obama will put the reigns on, say, deregulators like Larry Summers or friendly hawks like Robert Gates.

I have to admit he does show a domineering presence. So far he’s run his transition team with military discipline. But that doesn’t tell us much. What does is his attitude toward Detroit’s meltdown. Obama looks favorably on Detroit’s euphemistic “restructuring” proposals as conditions for a bailout. That means massive layoffs, factory closings and benefit cuts. Leaders in Congress hope these drastic measures will assure the long term viability of the listing big three.

Compare that to France, which is now fighting to save its own auto stalwarts like Renault. Sarkozy said recently that bailouts would come on the condition that the companies not outsource more jobs. Why isn’t Obama saying that? Why do Democratic leaders appear to be encouraging more layoffs in the middle of a recession?

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