Friday, May 01, 2009

The sanction of the victim 

I found utterly contemptible this statement from President Obama yesterday while addressing the filing of bankruptcy by Chrysler.
While many stakeholders made sacrifices and worked constructively, I have to tell you some did not. In particular, a group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout. They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices, and they would have to make none. Some demanded twice the return that other lenders were getting. I don't stand with them. I stand with Chrysler's employees and their families and communities. I stand with Chrysler's management, its dealers and its suppliers. I stand with the millions of Americans who own and want to buy Chrysler cars. I don't stand with those who held out when everybody else is making sacrifices. And that's why I'm supporting Chrysler's plans to use our bankruptcy laws to clear away its remaining obligations so the company can get back on its feet and onto a path of success.
The group was spooked enough yesterday to put out an unsigned statement of their position. Today in the filing in bankruptcy court we know something of who these thugs who "held out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout" are:
Many others bought the debt on the prospect of making money. In so doing they enabled those who might have been burdened by Chrysler debt to receive something now for their bonds: Those buyers provided liquidity to an illiquid market. Those investors are now being vilified by an administration who wanted to use political muscle, having Congressmen call them "vultures" who "will now be dealt with accordingly in court."

Many bought the debt knowing that bankruptcy was possible. They did so under the expectation that the rule of law would apply in America, that their place in line under bankruptcy law was purchased with that debt. President Obama's ire over their unwillingness to give away that place in line -- a place purchased by those endowments and foundations and pensions not for themselves but for students, pensioners and grant recipients -- is an indication that the president thinks his noble ends are superior to theirs. And Rep. Dingell joins him in hoping for what? the equivalent of hoping these creditors end up in a cell with a guy named Butch? And for what? The Journal explains:
The Chrysler creditors at least represent teachers, pensioners and retirees, among others. The Administration is advancing its own social and political agenda through its ever-deeper entanglement with Chrysler and General Motors. That explains why the government is giving 55% of the new Chrysler to the UAW's retiree-benefit trust, a junior creditor, while those ahead of the trust in line get a mere 30 cents on the dollar.
The president is trained in the law and understands the rights senior creditors have. He may hope he gets a better deal in bankruptcy court, but if the creditors are able to force liquidation, the 2012 Republican nominee can remind Detroit that Obama let this go to bankruptcy court because he wouldn't give these creditors an extra $250 million for a right they had paid for.

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