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Friday, July 8, 2011

Congressional Testimony Under Oath

An unfolding story illustrates the power of labor unions and the significance of oaths.

An Obama administration official who was the principal architect behind the federal government's bailout of General Motors Corp. in 2008 may have lied to Congress, lawmakers charged on Thursday.

Ron Bloom, former senior advisor to the Treasury secretary and now assistant to the president for Manufacturing Policy, reportedly told a journalist and an author that he "did this all for the unions."

During a June 22 congressional hearing about the lasting implications of the bailout, lawmakers asked Bloom if he ever made those comments. The following transpired:

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.): "Well did you say this at a dinner? There was a dinner and it was reported by David Shepardson, Washington correspondent for the Detroit News. At a farewell dinner of the Auto Task Force held in the restaurant Rosa Mexicano in late July 2009 that you allegedly said, 'I did this all for the unions.' "

Ron Bloom: "No, I did not say that."

Burton: "You didn't say that?"

Bloom: "No, sir."

Burton: "So, you were misquoted?"

Bloom: "That's correct."

Burton: "Well I'm going to call that guy up and ask him if you said that. You know that you are under oath here?"

Bloom: "I'm fully aware."

The Committee, however, says that two independent sources document Bloom saying the words in question, pointing to an article in the Detroit News and a line in a book written by Bloom's former boss on the Auto Task Force at the White House, Steven Rattner.

"It appears that either a respected reporter and your former boss in the Obama administration have both given inaccurate accounts of your comments to the public, or your testimony was not completely truthful," the committee wrote. "Therefore, if you would like to amend or clarify your testimony for the record, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible."

[See full text of letter.]

The Washington Examiner reports:

That account comes from Rattner's book, Overhaul. So does Bloom's celebratory declaration, after the auto bailout had been completed, that "I did this all for the unions!" Although supposedly spoken in jest, it was an accurate representation of what the auto bailout did -- it saved the UAW from losing a third of its remaining members or more.
This is not the first time an Obama adminsitration official has offered testimony to Congress under oath that contradicted well-documented media accounts. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood contradicted multiple media accounts, including those of Jonathan Martin of Politico and author Jonathan Alter, when he stated, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that his letter threatening to cut off Arizona stimulus funds was his own idea and that he had not spoken about it with anyone else in the Obama administration.