On Tuesday, President Barack Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett dodged questions about the Department of Treasury’s decision-making behind terminating 20,000 non-union Delphi salaried retirees’ pensions during the 2009 auto bailout.
Jarrett also refused to answer why she has Secret Service agents assigned to her personally to protect her.
Video shot by Washington Times reporter Kerry Picket shows Jarrett coming over to Picket when she didn’t hear her original question on her Secret Service detail. “I’m sorry,” Jarrett as she moved in to hear the question again. Jarrett then walked away as Picket asked a followup question.
With Jarrett still only a few feet away, Picket then shouted several questions about the Obama administration’s decision-making process during the auto bailout — and specifically the decision to terminate the 20,000 non-union workers’ pensions.
Jarrett’s Secret Service detail cut Picket off, and blocked her from entering the room, saying she could contact the White House Press Office if she had a question. The Press Office has not responded to numerous requests for comment from The Daily Caller.
Emails TheDC obtained and first published on Tuesday show senior White House and Treasury officials were behind the termination of pensions for 20,000 non-union Delphi salaried retirees.
Those emails show that the Treasury Department, led by Secretary Timothy Geithner, was the driving force behind terminating those pensions — a move made in 2009 while the Obama administration implemented its auto bailout plan. The emails contradict sworn testimony in which several Obama administration figures have consistently said that the decision to terminate the pensions came from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The PBGC is a federal agency that handles private sector pension benefits issues. Its charter calls for independent representation of pension beneficiaries’ interests.
Twenty-nine U.S.C. §1342 maintains that the PBGC is the only government entity that is legally empowered to initiate termination of a pension or make any official movements toward doing so.
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research fellow Diana Furchtgott-Roth told TheDC on Tuesday that the Obama administration’s motivation for doing this is likely its political dislike for non-union workers: “They just rationally pay off their constituencies, even if they break a few rules in the process, like the Solyndra approval with George Kaiser in on the White House meetings,” she said about the Delphi pensions scandal in an email. “We have the best government money can buy, and union political contributions matter.”