DETROIT (WWJ) – President Barack Obama is aware of the dire financial situation in Detroit, but has no plans to intervene in the city’s crisis.
That’s according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who addressed the issue at Thursday’s media briefing.
“I know that the president is aware of the situation in Detroit and administration officials have been in contact with leaders in Detroit … I’m not aware of any plans or proposals that the president has, but we’re certainly aware of the circumstances,” Carney told reporters.
Carney’s statement comes as a state-appointed emergency manager is crunching the numbers in a last-ditch effort to save the city from a looming municipal bankruptcy.
Although the numbers show Obama did not need Detroit to cement his re-election victory, some have suggested that he owes something to the Motor City.
Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson made headlines last year when she suggested that the President should repay Detroiters for their votes by offering a federal bailout.
“Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president and there ought to be a quid pro quo, and you ought to exercise leadership on that,” Watson said. “Of course, not just that, but why not?”
She added: ”After the election of Jimmy Carter, the honorable Coleman Alexander Young, he went to Washington, D.C. He came home with some bacon,” said Watson. “That’s what you do.”
According to political consultant Steve Hood, Detroit’s vote was about 285,000 — and, if you subtract that from Obama’s statewide total, he would have 167, 931 more Michigan votes than opponent Mitt Romney. “So if all of Detroit had stayed home, Mr. Obama would have still won the state,” Hood said.
Today, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr says the city is running a $380 million deficit. He says Detroit’s retirement system is underfunded by $3.5 billion, and long-term debt could top $17 billion.
Orr is seeking huge cuts in pension benefits and health insurance and is asking bond-holders to accept steep markdowns on what they’re owed.
Hood predicts Orr is going “get the job done” and make history by holding bond companies up until he gets the payments he wants — to avoid a Detroit bankruptcy.