Three members of the Obama administration's Auto Task Force testified before Congress Tuesday, insisting that the 2009 decision to cut Delphi salaried pensions was General Motors' and not the White House's.
"I think what we did was reasonable," task force member Ron Bloom told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "I think in the aggregate, the deal GM extracted from the UAW was reasonable."
About 15,000 salaried retirees saw their pension plans dumped on the federally backed Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. in the wake of the 2009 auto bailout and Delphi's bankruptcy, while hourly Delphi employees maintained full pension benefits.
The discrepancy led to Republican-led cries that the White House was rewarding labor allies at the expense of other workers, using taxpayer bailout funds.
Administration officials have resisted the inquiry by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa's committee, with Bloom in particular provoking ire by first agreeing to answer a series of 30 questions in writing, and then leaving the questions unanswered after leaving his treasury post.
"The happy train of silence and refusing to answer questions ends today," Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday.
In a statement, the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association dismissed most of the comments made at Tuesday's subcommittee meeting, saying former auto task force members Bloom, Matthew Feldman and Harry Wilson's answers "ranged from insulting to far-fetched."
But association officials expressed hope that the U.S. Inspector General's office will now receive some cooperation in completing a special investigation of the Delphi decision.
Thomas Crosson, spokesperson for Rep. Turner's office, said the IG's report is expected around October, and said the next actions by the committee will depend on what the report contains.
So far the committee has been seeking answers for more than two years, without creating any specific legislation to restore the salaried Delphi pensions.
GM owned Delphi until the late 1990s, when Delphi spun off as an independent company. The two companies were inextricably linked in the auto bailouts, however, because many Delphi workers retired with GM benefits, and Delphi is still a major supplier of parts to GM.
Most of the former Delphi property in Kokomo is now owned by General Motors Components Holdings, a subsidiary of GM.
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