- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2008

The White House on Monday said they believe quick progress can be made early this week on a temporary bailout for auto makers, but only if Democrats show them legislative language that has so far not been shared.

“As of this morning we still haven’t seen legislative language,” said White House press secretary Dana Perino. “I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be able to make some good progress today if they came forward with their legislation quickly.”

White House negotiators met with congressional staffers late Saturday, she said, citing a breakthrough last week when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed off her insistence that money used for the bailout come out of the $700 billion economic rescue package.

See related story: Progress made in auto bailout plan

But she cautioned that “if [Democrats] want to vote tomorrow, it seems pretty soon if we haven’t seen the language yet, and as we understand it, it hasn’t been showed to Republicans either.”

Mrs. Perino also for the first time discussed the creation of a “car czar” in the executive branch, otherwise known as a financial viability adviser.

“This is a person who would be named by the president with the authority to negotiate a credible viability plan with automakers seeking assistance,” Mrs. Perino said.

“So, for example, if an automaker comes to the government seeking assistance, we will make short-term financing available, providing that the automaker and the stakeholders, like the UAW, agree to negotiate with the adviser in good faith and on a credible plan for long-term viability.”

Further financial help would be conditional upon the carmaker’s progress toward long-term sustainability, Mrs. Perino said.

If, however, the oversight adviser ruled that sufficient improvement had not been made, then the adviser would “submit an alternative viability plan that would involve restructuring through Chapter 11 and require automakers to repay the government the amount of their short-term bridge financing.”

Democrats in Congress, however, have talked of an oversight board made up of several people.

Mrs. Perino said both sides were working toward creating “an entity that would serve as a viability validator,” but that an agreement on how that would happen had not been solidified.

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