Delphi, a General Motors company, is one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers. When the government bailed out GM, 20,000 Delphi workers lost nearly their entire pensions. But Delphi employees who were members of the United Auto Workers union saw their pensions topped off and made whole.
The White House and Treasury Department have consistently maintained that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) independently made the decision to terminate the 20,000 non-union Delphi workers’ pension plan. The PBGC is a federal government agency that handles private-sector pension benefits issues. Its charter calls for independent representation of pension beneficiaries’ interests.
But now, the Daily Caller has obtained emails showing that the U.S. Treasury Department, led by Timothy Geithner, was the driving force behind terminating the pensions of the 20,000 salaried Delphi retirees. According to the Daily Caller, the emails contradict testimony given to Congress by Former Treasury official Matthew Feldman and former White House auto czar Ron Bloom, both key members of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry during the GM bailout.
The emails show that representativesof the PBGC were “uninvited” from meetings at which the Treasury Department considered what to do about the Delphi pensions. This, says the Daily Caller, is likely a violation of federal law (29 U.S.C. §1342).
Other emails show that the PBGC believed it needed to clear decisions and action plans through senior administration officials. This view seems to have been justified. One email describes how the Treasury Department’s Feldman reported that he “has made progress discussing [a] proposal with a number of key folks in Treasury and at [the] White House, but he has not yet wrapped up his coordination.” Feldman “indicated that there is an 8am call tomorrow that he’ll use to close the communication-loop, and he’s confident he’ll have a fully-vetted Treasury view after that call.”
And so on.
Perhaps the Romney campaign can produce an ad in which a former Delphi employee whose pension benefits disappeared complains that the Obama administration took his benefits, but not those of union workers, and then told Congress, under oath, that it had no involvement in the decision. That, of course, is the kind of ad Team Obama has used so effectively against Mitt Romney based on decisions by companies controlled by Bain Capital. The analogy seems pretty close.