Last Tuesday, December 9, I watched the House debate and vote on the bill to fund automakers 14-15 billion dollars in financial support (HR 7321). About midway in the debate, Rep. Frank rose to encourage the passing of the bill and also to recognize a recent amendment to the bill, which he also applauded. This Green Amendment stated that although financial institutions had promised to use the first half of TARP funds to primarily make new loans to help homeowners facing possible foreclosure, these financials had indeed not yet done so, but instead, were still holding onto the money or using it to buy into new bank mergers. A disappointing show of faith, a lack of follow-through. The Green amendment proposed that before further funding to these financial institutions would be approved, they would need to show that they had in fact, made an appropriate number of new loans to avoid possible foreclosures, with the first TARP funds awarded.
So, Frank implied, you members of the House, can hold them more acountable for the remaining TARP funds if you vote for the Green Amendment, AND, since you should vote for this stellar mandate on accountability, then you must of course vote FOR 7321 to fund assistance for the automakers. (ie If you want the one, why would you vote against the other?)
This happens, I'm sure, on a regular basis in Congress, but it was the first time that I could actually watch the "gotcha" in politics in real time.