Democrat Joe Biden’s pick to be his top economic adviser in the White House served on the Obama-appointed team that helped slash pensions for roughly 20,000 Americans in the auto bailout.
This week, Biden announced that Obama alum Brian Deese, now an executive at the investment management firm BlackRock, will serve as his top economic adviser should he enter the White House.
Deese previously served as a special assistant to Obama for economic policy and played a role in the administration’s bailout of the auto industry, which ultimately led to slashed pensions for 20,000 non-union workers at the Delphi Corporation, an auto parts supplier to General Motors (GM).
In 2009, as part of the Obama-Biden administration’s taxpayer-funded bailout of GM, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) terminated the pension plans of non-unionized Delphi workers. In some cases, workers had their pensions gutted by as much as 75 percent.
A federal report in 2013 detailed that the Delphi workers would likely have their pensions cut by an estimated $440 million. Meanwhile, GM topped off unionized Delphi workers’ pensions at a cost of about $1 billion.
Deese, along with agency heads like Timothy Geithner and top advisers like Ron Bloom, was named in that federal report, having had been involved in multiple conversations about the Delphi pensions:
In July 2009, internal Government emails between the Auto Team and Advisor to the President Brian Deese discussed GM’s need to address issues with Delphi’s “splinter unions.” Auto Team officials did not recall details related to the emails. When Senator Charles Schumer took a position that GM should assume the Delphi salaried retiree pensions, Mr. Deese emailed Mr. Rattner this “may complicate the optics of doing anything for the splinters.” Other emails from Mr. Deese stated, “We will continue to face intense scrutiny on this issue. The politics of terminations is quite intense” and “we need to work on a clear rationale for the outcomes we’re moving toward, as well as an explanation of respective roles.” Mr. Rattner emailed members of the Auto Team that he had spoken with Fritz Henderson about “our logic on the splinters, which he [Henderson] was fine with. [Auto Team Analyst] Sadiq [Malik] should speak to Janice [Uhlig] about the details, particularly how the reallocation of the $417mm would work.” Auto Team member Feldman emailed members of the Auto Team about health care/pension benefit changes for IUE and USW employees, and Mr. Deese responded that the company’s organizing principle was parity between GM salaried and non-UAW hourlies. Mr. Deese referenced a discussion about health care costs and the “credible fairness arguments to augment the hourlies’ recovery based on the pension disparity, but that for all the reasons we discussed that would not be possible. However, I think the logic of that conclusion strongly counsels in favor of bringing the top-up through. Otherwise, we’re moving in the opposite direction from a position that we all agreed was itself on the edge of fairness.”
In October, President Trump signed a memorandum to devise a plan to restore the pensions of the Delphi workers. Biden has not said if he supports the memorandum.
Former Delphi workers told Breitbart News in interviews how the pension-slashing scheme uprooted their livelihoods. One retiree said she lost her home, and her retirement plans to move to the Florida coast have been squashed.
Another retiree said his wife died in the process, as he was forced to find work in order to pay for her medical bills. He had assumed that after 30 years at Delphi, he and his wife would have a good healthcare plan in their retirement. That ended when his pension was cut by about 30 percent.
Delphi, which has since split into Aptiv and Delphi Technologies, announced in 2006 that it would shutter 21 of its 29 plants in the United States — offshoring some 20,000 U.S. jobs to Mexico, China, and other foreign countries.
At the time, Delphi employed nearly 50,000 Americans, who earned about $30 an hour on the assembly line. Now, workers in Mexico for the company earn about $1 an hour.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.
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