Did Obama admin officials lie to Congress about Delphi pension termination?

posted at 10:01 am on August 7, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to detect a pattern from the Obama administration.  When called to testify before Congress, executive branch officials say, “No, no, no” … but their e-mails later say, “Yes, yes, yes“:

Emails obtained by The Daily Caller show that the U.S. Treasury Department, led by Timothy Geithner, was the driving force behind terminating the pensions of 20,000 salaried retirees at the Delphi auto parts manufacturing company.

The move, made in 2009 while the Obama administration implemented its auto bailout plan, appears to have been made solely because those retirees were not members of labor unions.

The internal government emails contradict sworn testimony, in federal court and before Congress, given by several Obama administration figures. They also indicate that the administration misled lawmakers and the courts about the sequence of events surrounding the termination of those non-union pensions, and that administration figures violated federal law.

Read through all of The DC’s report, but the key e-mail exchanges appear to be those between Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation staffers Joseph House, Karen Morris, and Michael Rae.  The PBGC has the only statutory authority to close down a pension fund, and Obama administration officials have repeatedly claimed that the PBGC made the Delphi decision on the non-union pension independently.  However, the meeting called to determine the status of that pension didn’t include PBGC officials — who got disinvited from the event:

Morris had written earlier that day that the PBGC team would “probably get invited to the Monday meeting at tomorrow’s meeting,” and that the Monday meeting would involve “talks” on the GM and Delphi portions of the bailout plan. Those strategies, she wrote, including “pension issues,” would be “kicking off” that Monday.

But after the Friday meeting, House emailed PBGC staffers Karen Morris and John Menke. “We’ve been disinvited,” he wrote. “It’s for the best.”

“Who uninvited us?” Morris replied.

“Treasury,” House responded.

Treasury official Matt Feldman then starts coming into the picture as “a facilitator” of the Deplhi decision, to us the DC’s characterization:

In another series of emails between PBGC’s John Menke and Karen Morris, Feldman — an Obama administration official — emerges as the facilitator of the Delphi pension termination. Menke wrote of the need to obtain a “rubber stamp” from Treasury Department officials before the cutoff was finalized, and from others who were supposed to be excluded from the decision-making process.

Menke emailed Morris on July 14, 2009, laying out details of the final deal that was to deny 20,000 non-union Delphi workers most of hteir pension benefits.

“Terry [Deneen], Joe [House] and Greenhill seem inclined to tell Feldman that this does it for us,” Menke wrote. “Terry is taking it up to Board reps meeting this afternoon and expecting to get a head nod, which he will then have Greenhill convey to Treasury.”

Very obviously, Treasury was at least involved in the decision-making, if not the ultimate decider of the Delphi pension termination.  A Treasury spokesman insisted to the DC that the PBGC made the decision on its own, but it looks pretty clear that the PBGC was at least coordinating efforts with the Obama administration.  To the extent that any officials testified differently, we may be seeing more subpoenas and Congressional hearings in the near future.  One question in particular will be why the PBGC terminated the non-union pension while taxpayers absorbed the union pension obligations, and whether that outcome was coordinated all along by the White House.


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