Delphi Workers See Pensions Plundered Under Obama

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


Although it is almost impossible to believe, the Obama administration has yet another burgeoning scandal on its hands. Documents obtained by the Daily Caller indicate that former White House deputy press secretary Jen Psaki was aware that Treasury Department officials “crafted the press releases and public messaging for General Motors during the 2009 auto industry bailout.” The Caller had obtained the documents in 2011, but an agreement with the source who provided them prevented their publication before now. The names of fellow White House staffers Brian Deese and Amy Brundage appear on the documents as well. Ms. Psaki has returned to the president’s election campaign as his traveling press secretary.

In one of the emails obtained by the Caller, an exchange between Greg Martin, GM’s director of policy, and the Treasury Department’s Jenni Engebretsen, reveals an effort was made to de-emphasize Treasury’s role in the bailout of the beleaguered auto company. The effort was prompted by the draft of a GM press release indicating the company would be shutting down operations at several factories. “We would ask that you move the reference to Treasury down to the third paragraph, taking it out of the lede,” wrote Engebretsen. “Please let us know if this presents any issues.” Martin replied, “No problems. Done.”

Downplaying Treasury’s role served two purposes. It served the administration’s goal of minimizing public perception regarding their role in the bailout, as well as the role Treasury played in the scandal surrounding the evisceration of pensions for salaried, non-union employees at Delphi Automotive, the largest and most diversified supplier of automotive parts, and a GM spinoff.

Delphi retirees lost as much as 30 to 70 percent of their pensions, along with their healthcare, life insurance and other benefits–even as unionized employees, working with their non-union counterparts in the same capacities, had their pensions and benefits “topped off” and made whole.

The Obama administration has attempted to shift the blame for that decision onto the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal government agency that handles private-sector pension benefits issues. Former Treasury official Matthew Feldman, and former White House auto czar Ron Bloom, who were key members of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry during the GM bailout, testified under oath to that effect. “As a result of the Delphi Corporation bankruptcy, for example, Delphi and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation were forced to terminate Delphi’s pension plans, which means there are Delphi retirees who unfortunately will collect less than their full pension benefits,” attested Feldman on July 11, 2012.

Yet a series of emails obtained by the Caller last August reveal that the Treasury Dept., with Secretary Tim Geithner in a leading role, “was the driving force behind terminating the pensions of 20,000 salaried retirees at the Delphi auto parts manufacturing company.” Furthermore, those emails contradict sworn testimony given in federal court by administration officials (as noted above), indicate the administration misled congressional lawmakers about the sequence of events surrounding the bailout, and show that members of the administration violated federal law.

August was also when House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) sent document requests to the White House, Treasury and the PBGC according to a press release issued October 3, 2012. The release further notes that, in answering that request, the “PBGC provided what appears to be a nearly complete response, while Treasury provided an incomplete response. The White House provided no documents, but claimed Treasury was responding on its behalf.”

Despite the stonewalling, key findings in those documents reveal that Treasury lied when it characterized its involvement as “an advisory role only,” in PBGC’s “independent” decision, and that as late as May 28, 2009, officials involved in negotiations were still discussing the idea that GM would  assume both Delphi non-union and union pension plans. Yet following “extensive Treasury involvement,” the decision was made to supplement only union-worker pension plans.

“Treasury was clearly in the center of the decision to terminate the pensions of Delphi’s salaried workers,” Camp said in the release. “Instead of withholding important documents, Treasury should release all documents without further delay and give these hardworking Americans answers as to why Treasury believed they were not entitled to their full pensions. I have serious concerns about this Administration picking winners and losers in Delphi’s bankruptcy.”

On October 26, Camp pushed the envelope. “The White House is withholding documents and has failed to provide a legitimate reason,” he told the Caller. “The president and his lawyers should either claim executive privilege and be prepared to defend it for each and every document or turn over the documents without further delay.” Camp was likely responding to an Oct. 12 letter sent by White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, who suggested that Obama could, in fact, invoke executive privilege. “Your request for all EOP [Executive Office of the President] communications implicates longstanding and significant executive branch confidentiality interests,” Ruemmler wrote, “an encroachment upon [sic] which is unnecessary at this time.”

Camp’s Committee is one of three in the House investigating the Delphi pension scandal. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce are the other two conducting their own probes. All three have been stonewalled by Geithner and the Treasury Department, and all three are threatening to issue subpoenas to Treasury and the White House to get to the bottom of the machinations behind the shaft given to non-union Delphi employees, even as their United Auto Worker (UAW) brethren emerged from the bailout unscathed.

That would be the same UAW who gained majority control of GM itself when the Obama administration trampled established bankruptcy law. And it would be the same General Motors the administration touts as a “success story” on the campaign trail.

Yet more than 20,000 Delphi workers face an uncertain future, and GM’s success story is nothing of the sort: of the $50.7 billion taxpayers shelled out to save the company, $27.2 has yet to be paid back–and likely never will be. The much-touted production of the eco-minded Chevy Volt has been suspended due to anemic sales–and GM’s 2011 annual report reveals that two-thirds of GM’s jobs are located in foreign countries.

Contempt for the law, and the ongoing efforts to stonewall that contempt, form the core of this administration. It is a “template” that can be plugged into any one of numerous scandals this administration has inflicted upon the nation, from the expenditure of treasure, represented by a string of green company bankruptcies and the GM bailout, to the expenditure of blood, represented by the death of American heroes in both Fast and Furious and Benghazi. 20,000 Delphi workers are now well aware that, with respect to an administration that has spent four years picking America’s “winners and losers”–based on nothing more than crass political calculations–they belong to the latter group.

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  • Mary Sue

    wow, the white house screwing people out of pensions? What's liberal demmyness coming to these days?

  • kafir4life

    Yet another reason to avoid union made goods and services like the plague. First of all, it's amusing that it's getting easier and easier to buy non-union made goods and services (once you get out of the public sector where unions shouldn't exist). Buying from businesses that employ union members is no different that making donations directly to dems, and the products are mostly garbage anyway.
    I've been in three unions. Now I negotiate for myself. Those who require unions for the most part are low skilled workers, and/or lazy enough that they'd get fired for not doing what they're paid for, which rarely happens in union run places. I find it very amusing.

  • jacob

    Which accounts for the head knocker of the AFL-CIO to enter the White House any time he feels like
    and I still wonder, with the Simon Legree type employers gone the way of thre dinosaurs, who the
    hell still needs bloodsucking unions…..

    But now we can see clearly where all the money from the "STIMULUS" went……
    And what do the Congress parasites say about it ???
    Nothing whatsoever…
    Thanks for asking

  • truthteller

    Hmmm, from what I understand it was a Romney supporter who was responsible for the pension problems and de-unionization of this company:. http://www.thenation.com/article/170644/mitt-romn…. Check out the Elliott Management's and Paul Singer's involvement in the Delphi takeover and see how much they've profited from this company.

  • Schlomotion

    Why would it be "almost impossible to believe" that the Obama administration has "yet another burgeoning scandal on its hands?" Chimpanzees are desperately banging away on keyboards to gin up as many of these "scandals" as they can in the last few days before I cast my ballot. I think scandal submission deadline was two weeks ago. I am not going to worry about people who work at Delphi Automotive before I get to the polls.

    • patron

      Sorry. The insane can't vote.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

        They do, and they even seem to make comments here if you read the one you responded to.

        • pagegl

          Agreed.

          • aspacia

            Ditto

      • kafir4life

        If that were true, Obama wouldn't be president of anything.

  • DavidHowell

    This just WRONG. You work hard for a Company . You Trust them from there pass. Than you Get all of this Deregulation throught the Goverment And Lobbies. Thay make Change in the Contract you must obey By because you work under a contract .You Retire a lot not by choice. You wake-up and find that your Retirement is lost. Goverment Bail them OUT and Wallstreet. It not just a SCREW -UP it's a SET-UP Years the the Making and two-steping. Obama was wrong But he did try.

  • watsa46

    All these liars should be put to jail and loosing every benefits they acquired.
    That is why big Gvt should not exist. It invariably leads to failed socialism or communism and poverty: see Russia, Greece,France, most of the Muslim countries, Africa, What the Qur'an and Sharia if not a gigantic government controlled by the Mullahs. The American left, hijacked by the NEO-COMMINISTS, refuses to wake-up.
    Obama reelection would be a catastrophe for the US and the FREE world.

  • watsa46

    This gigantic Islamic gvt brought ignorance, violence, sexism, illiteracy, xenophobia and poverty.
    Is that what the left wants for the US?

  • Mary Sue

    "Unions protect your rights as a worker!"

    Except when they don't.

  • gad_fly

    Delphi filed for Chapter 11 in 2005 – and were not owned by GM when the bailout occurred. It follows then that the irregular bankruptcy scenario that the Obama regime imposed on GM and Chrysler was not available to Delphi or any other parts supplier that died with the reduction of operating assembly plants.

    We know that the UAW workers at GM and Chrysler were treated royally if they retained a job with these automakers, but UAW workers outside this circle got treated as all bankrupt company workers do. The unfairness here is the protecting of Chrysler and GM workers at the expense of investors.

    • onlyiamunitron

      "The unfairness here is the protecting of Chrysler and GM workers at the expense of investors."

      Investors, specifically stockholders, are the people who are supposed to lose when a company goes bankrupt.

      That is, creditors are supposed to be made whole, as much as possible, first, and only if there's anything left do investors get anything back.

      Are you really disappointed that some of the workers didn't get screwed enough?

      unitron

      (son of a non-union GM retiree)

  • OneWhoKnows

    GM and Delphi were sending jobs overseas back in the 1980′s; long before President Obama took office. Seems some people think he should now become a “miracle worker” and undo the self-inflicted” damage done. There was Singapore, and Japan, and China and on and on and on.

  • MittRichByDelphi

    Wow, How much CRACK COCAINE did you have to smoke to come up with this lame-ass fiction?

  • No RNC

    It’s time, the crooks must be exposed & brought to justice!