Two Levins Mixed on Obama’s Auto Action

Posted March 30, 2009 at 7:10pm

Two prominent Michigan Democrats — brothers Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. Sander Levin — on Monday appeared to be split on whether President Barack Obama was being too tough on General Motors by requiring its CEO to step down as a condition for the company to receive more federal aid.

Obama discussed the importance of the auto industry during a Monday night House Democratic Caucus meeting.

On Sunday, Obama ruffled some feathers with his decision to provide GM with 60 days worth of aid only if it continues to restructure and on the condition that CEO Rick Wagoner resigns.

The conditions come after the administration rejecting “path to viability plans— submitted Feb. 17 by GM and fellow auto giant Chrysler.

Despite the unprecedented decision to oust Wagoner, Rep. Levin said he didn’t think Obama was being too rough on auto companies given the crisis mode of the industry.

“It’s tough love. I hope the administration has gotten across there is love as well as toughness,— he said Monday on MSNBC.

Emphasizing the need to focus on the future, he said he thinks Obama is equally dedicated to aiding the auto industry while also recognizing “the very, very difficult atmosphere in which this is occurring, including concerns among the public.—

“I hope there is, as I said, love as well as toughness. We need both,— he added.

Across the Capitol, however, the mood was less charitable with Sen. Levin pointing out that Obama didn’t seek any advice from Congress on his decision to ask Wagoner to step down.

“He didn’t ask us about it, he informed us,— the Senator said during a conference call with reporters. “The president said he’d already decided.—

He wouldn’t say directly whether he disagreed with Obama’s decision to push out Wagoner, but he repeatedly said the decision was “sad— and pointed to Wagoner’s long tenure at GM.

Asked about the double standard of the administration being tough on Detroit while giving billions more in aid to Wall Street, Sen. Levin said that reality is “something that we have to live with.—