Lauria had represented Perella Weinberg, which owned Chrysler debt and had initially balked at the Obama deal forking over 33 cents on the dollar for their secured debts while giving the United Auto Workers retirees about 50 cents on the dollar for their unsecured debts. As Washington Examiner columnist Michael Barone explained, "This of course is a violation of one of the basic principles of bankruptcy law, which is that secured creditors -- those who [lent] money only on the contractual promise that if the debt was unpaid they'd get specific property back -- get paid off in full before unsecured creditors get anything."
The White House denied Lauria's charges of bullying. "The charge is completely untrue, "White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton told ABC News, "and there's obviously no evidence to suggest that this happened in any way." Yes, we've seen this pattern before. Perella Weinberg also denied the charges, dutifully fired Lauria, and suddenly changed its mind about the deal and withdrew its objections. Funny how that works.
Elsewhere in the Cabinet, White House senior adviser and Chicago knuckle-cracker David Axelrod, along with National Economic Council adviser Larry Summers, harangued financial industry executives in the spring of 2010 to stop running ads against the Democrats' financial-regulatory bill. Bloomberg News reported on a muscle-flexing meeting between the White House and banking CEOs, who raised "concern over the administration's criticism of the industry's efforts to influence the bill, according to one participant. Summers responded by calling on the industry to cease running ads against the bill and to stop its lobbyists from trying to insert loopholes in the legislation, the person said." Business as usual? Veteran political observer Michael Barone didn't think so: "The White House officials are making clear the character of the new regime they're trying to impose. We're doing you favors, so shut up and take whatever medicine we prescribe without protest."
Put another way: It's political free speech and participation in the legislative process for all -- except when subject to approval by Obama overlords.
Minnesota GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, borrowing a phrase from Barone called Obama's speech-squelching racket exactly what it was: "Gangster government." For this, she was chastised by former president Bill Clinton, who likened Bachmann and the limited-government activists of the Tea Party movement to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Rebuking Bachmann's "hatred and "paranoia," Clinton defended his friends in the White House and ruling majority. "They are not gangsters," Clinton told the New York Times before the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party protests. "They were elected. They are not doing anything they were not elected to do."
Some elected officials might beg to differ. And not just ones with an "R" by their names. In February 2010, Democrat Congressman Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania admitted to veteran Philly newsman Larry Kane that Team Obama had dangled a "high-ranking" position in the administration if he dropped out of the Senate race and left incumbent Republican-turned Democrat Senator Arlen Specter alone. Kane reported on the exchange and the White House wall of silence he encountered: