Obama administration committing $320 million to aid bankrupt Detroit

“The President and members of the President’s senior team continue to closely monitor the situation in Detroit. While leaders on the ground in Michigan and the city’s creditors understand that they must find a solution to Detroit’s serious financial challenge, we remain committed to continuing our strong partnership with Detroit as it works to recover and revitalize and maintain its status as one of America’s great cities,” were the exact words from the White House upon the announcement of Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy filing last July. “The issue here of the insolvency and dealing with that is one that Detroit and Detroit’s creditors will have to resolve. We will be of assistance in general, both in terms of policy as well as just being a partner with Detroit as Detroit finds its way and moves forward in the coming weeks, months and years,” spokesman Jay Carney reiterated a day later.

This, apparently, is what the federal government maintaining a “strong partnership” and being of “assistance in general” looks like, via Businessweek:

U.S. President Barack Obama is committing at least $320 million to revive bankrupt Detroit, primarily through grant and funding programs, to raze blighted buildings, hire police and firefighters and improve transit.

A delegation from Washington led by Attorney General Eric Holder, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will meet with Michigan and city officials today.

“We’re going to continue to support the efforts under way in Detroit and ensure the federal government is an active partner in supporting the revitalization of the city,” Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and head of an interagency working group on Detroit, said in a statement. …

The White House will commit $150 million for demolition of blighted properties and neighborhood redevelopment, in federal and other funds. Block grants of $65 million and $25.4 million from public and private sources would be used to tear down and refurbish buildings.

I suppose it isn’t a bailout per se, and it is certainly nowhere close to the at least $18 billion Detroit would need to cover their total debt and unfunded liabilities — and hey, what’s a casual $300 million or so between friends? I wondered whether the Obama administration would at first publicly eschew the very obviously awful and repercussion-heavy notion of offering the city a bunch of financial aid, but then just wait a couple months for the dust to settle before offering some under-the-radar lifelines for their liberal allies who sank the city into financial emergency in the first place — and lo and behold, that was the plan all along.

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David Strom 9:21 PM on March 24, 2023