The decision by President Bush to throw a lifeline to the Big 3 has been expected. The tipped hand probably led to the inability of the Senate Republicans to gain crucial concessions from the automakers and the unions during the failed negotiations of last week.
This seems to me to be a much preferred approach that cedes the long-term issue to the new administration, and the president-elect will be able to factor assistance to the car companies into his legislative program for the new year. Lame duck presidents and lame-duck Congresses should do as little as possible to limit a new president’s agenda, fresh as he is from a solid win and a shift to the left in the Congress. Senate Republicans have got to be prepared to fight for sobriety in January and February, and their principled positions of this month allow them to do that. President Bush’s intervention provides his successor with all the options available.
This is cautious, responsible governance by a responsible president seeking to make his successor’s transition as smooth as possible.