House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp threatened Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Barack Obama on Tuesday: Cough up the Delphi documents or get served with subpoenas.
“This is my third letter requesting that the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) come clean about its involvement in the decision-making that led to certain Delphi pension beneficiaries being treated differently during the 2009 General Motors Company (GM) bailout,” Camp wrote in a Tuesday letter to Geither. “To date, Treasury has provided two demonstrably incomplete productions consisting of little more than publicly available documents, redacted e-mails, ex post facto rationale for Treasury actions, and incomplete productions prepared for other inquiries. Despite my request, Treasury has refused to certify that it has produced all responsive documents or provide a privilege log for any documents withheld. This pattern of stonewalling is inconsistent with the high standards you have set for Treasury.”
“Thus far, and on the basis of documents produced both by Treasury and third parties, my investigation has found that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) advocated that GM take over both the Delphi hourly and salaried pension plans at a time when GM had raised doubts about its ability to afford the plans,” Camp continued. “Ultimately, under the watchful eye and perhaps influence of Treasury officials, GM decided to provide pension top-up benefits to hourly but not salaried retirees.”
Camp warned Geithner that if he doesn’t “provide all responsive documents and/or a privilege log” to the Ways and Means Committee by October 30, he’ll “be forced to consider using compulsory process to secure production of the documents.”
During the 2009 auto bailout, a decision was made to terminate the pension plans for 20,000 non-union autoworker retirees from auto parts manufacturer Delphi. While those non-union retirees lost significant portions of their pensions, health care and life insurance benefits from this deal, their union colleagues saw their benefits completely topped up.
For years since, the Obama administration has claimed the PBGC made the decision on its own, free of administration influence. Email evidence obtained and published by The Daily Caller in early August shows that’s not the case. Among other things, that new evidence prompted Camp’s investigation.
In a second Tuesday letter written to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Camp said her Oct. 12 response to his investigative inquiries about the “extent to which the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP)” was involved in the Delphi pension decision was “both unresponsive and perplexing.”
“You claim that the September 7, 2012, Department of the Treasury (Treasury) response ‘did address the … [EOP]‘s role in the Delphi pension matter,’” Camp wrote to Ruemmler, adding that he only found two such EOP references in that document dump. The first, Camp said, was a description of President Obama’s “decision to create the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry (Auto Task Force),” and the second was a “redacted e-mail chain including EOP personnel.”
Camp then asked Ruemmler to answer whether those two specific things “constitute the full extent of EOP involvement” in this matter, adding that he doubts that’s the case: “Given the amount of taxpayer dollars at stake in the GM situation and the more than 20,000 American workers negatively impacted by the Delphi decision, it strains credulity that this single e-mail chain represents the lone involvement of the EOP.”
Camp also said Ruemmler’s response suggests there are more documents the White House is hiding.
“Your request for all EOP communications implicates longstanding and significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests, an encroachment upon which is unnecessary at this time,” Ruemmler had written to Camp on Oct. 12.