BREAKING: Bush Approves Automaker Rescue Package (UPDATED X2)

I never thought I’d be saying this, but today President Bush did the responsible thing today, approving low-interest loans to American automakers.

I guess he doesn’t want to be remembered as the worst president in modern history, though I don’t think this is nearly enough to change that.

More from ABC:

The White House has decided to come to the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler by providing them with $17.4 billion in low-interest loans to keep them afloat, ABC News has learned.

The money for the loans will come from the Troubled Asset Relief Program fund, signed into law this fall to bail out the financial industry. The president will provide $13.4 billion in short-term financing in December and January and plans to make another $4 billion available in February, provided it can reach into the second half of the $700 billion TARP fund to do so.


Pressure had been building for President Bush to act. Chrysler temporarily shut down all of its plants earlier this week to save money, and GM delayed construction on a new plant for the same reason. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Bush on Thursday to make a decision because the nation’s weakened economy could not risk a massive wave of layoffs.


Congress tried to hammer out a deal last week that included a government veto over major decisions by the carmakers if they accepted the federal funds. The bill died in the Senate, however, when Republican senators insisted on sharp cuts in workers pay and benefits.

UPDATE: The restrictions that will be put on the auto companies by the White House are far less stringent than the restrictions that were in the legislation Senate Republicans filibustered.

In other words, the GOP shot themselves in the foot. They defeated a bill with a lot of strings attached because there weren’t enough strings attached, but now the auto companies are getting the money anyway with fewer strings attached than ever.

The GOP would have been in a better position if they had just relented and passed the rescue legislation. Now the automakers are getting their money and the GOP isn’t getting any of the concessions they wanted.

Mitch McConnell must be kicking himself this morning.

UPDATE II: Also keep in mind that the automaker rescue plan is coming from the White House, not Congress–so come January 20th, Barack Obama will be in charge of the program.

So not only did Senate Republicans get no concessions, but they ensured that the entire rescue program will end up in the hands of Obama’s White House, giving the GOP no input whatsoever into how the rescue is structured and carried out.

Heckuva job, Republicans.