PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network.
I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. In a new book called Billionaires & Ballot
Bandits, Greg Palast outlines nine easy steps to steal an election. This is the first in
a series of interviews we’re going to do with Greg. So those of you that want to steal an
election, listen closely. Thanks for joining us, Greg. GREG PALAST: Thanks, Paul. JAY: So Greg Palast, as most of you probably
know, he writes for Rolling Stone; he’s–reports for BBC Television, Newsnight; he writes for
The Nation, The Guardian, Harper’s. So you have a new piece in The Nation which
is about how Mitt Romney and some of his friends get a lot of money out of the Detroit meltdown
and the bailout. How did that happen? PALAST: Yeah, I wouldn’t call it a lot; I’d
call it humungous, okay, like, monster–I mean, in my neigborhood. Romney made between
$15 million and $115 million–I want to repeat that–$115 million on the auto bailout. JAY: That’s a big spread, 15 to 115. PALAST: Well, when we try to ask him which
it was, rather than–I thought he was going to say, “I didn’t make any money”; he didn’t
deny it at all. So I suspect the numbers are all low. But we know he made millions and
millions and millions off the auto bailout. JAY: You’re saying at the very least 15. PALAST: At least 15. JAY: So how? PALAST: But the important thing is that his
buddies, his top donors and his partners, three hedge fund managers, earned $4.2 billion
off the auto bailout, minimum. Here’s how they did it. These guys grab the old Delco
auto parts division of General Motors. It used to be called Delco, and now it’s called
Delphi, a separate company. Delphi went into bankruptcy ahead of GM. These guys, Romney
and his partners, bought up Delphi for $0.67 a share–nothing. JAY: Now, just to be clear here, this is Romney–this
is Bain Capital doing this? PALAST: No, it’s not. It’s not Bain Capital.
People think of Romney in Bain. He’s left Bain. His partner is a guy named Paul Singer,
better known as “the Vulture”. He runs a vulture fund called Elliott Management. They’re not
nice guys. Last time I was hunting these guys down for BBC, I was in the Congo, where Elliott
Management–Paul Singer–figured out how to snatch aid money given to the Republic of
Congo to help stop a cholera epidemic and he figured out how to pocket it. I’m not kidding
you. JAY: Alright. Well, that’s another story. PALAST: That’s another–well, it’s actually
in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits ’cause I want people to understand who are the billionaires
who are buying up these elections, who are the billionaires that are paying for the ballot
thievery and who are Romney’s partners. And by the way, I go through Obama’s billionaires,
too, which is–you know, that’s part of the story, too. They all have got their billionaires.
But this guy’s a special case, the Vulture. So the Vulture, Singer, with his partner Romney–I
should say, the Ann Romney Blind Trust, or, as I call it, the blond trust, because it’s
not really a blind trust in any sense of the word. It’s not recognized by the U.S. government
at all as a blind trust. If I can see into it, so can Mr. Romney, who was a CEO of an
investment bank, right? So they know what they’re doing. These guys buy up the auto parts division
of General Motors, $0.67 a share, secretly. The government doesn’t know what’s going to
hit it. And they say, we own this thing, and if you don’t give us what we want, which is
almost $13 billion, we’re going to shut down GM. We’re shutting you down. That’s a quote. JAY: And they can do that because they’re
an important parts supplier. PALAST: They used, actually, industrial espionage.
They–illegal, as far as I can tell, which is that they hired General Motors purchasing
executives to tell them where GM was vulnerable, and they found out that, for example, GM has
no steering columns, no steering wheels. They would shut down like boom, because this was
their own auto parts division, but they made it a separate company, stupidly. So they said, we’re shutting down GM–and,
by the way, we’ll take Chrysler down. And when I say “shut you down”, they–not put
GM or Chrysler into bankruptcy. They’re already going bankrupt. I’m talking about liquidating,
finishing them off, so that they were doomed. JAY: But how could they do that? What’s the
mechanism? PALAST: It’s funny cars without steering wheels.
It’s hard to make it go in the right direction. JAY: So they can sink them because they simply
don’t supply the parts. PALAST: They would stop, they would fall apart
immediately. So there was no replacement. They would need tens of–in fact, they went
so far, Romney’s partners, as to actually hand GM a study saying–from your own purchasing
agents, saying, this will cost you tens of billions of dollars and several years to replace
our parts. Well, of course, GM didn’t have billions, even with the government, and it
certainly didn’t have years. JAY: So this is all part of this period of
the bailout and whether the government’s going to buy these shares at the premium that the
fund is asking for. PALAST: Well, what they did was they said,
we–no, just give us the money or you don’t get the parts. The government, with GM and
the owner of the Detroit Pistons, a guy named Tom Gores, together, the Pistons GM and the
government were going to buy back Delphi and make it again the old Delco auto parts division,
’cause the government said, you can’t have someone holding your parts–you know, it’s
a very uncomfortable biological situation. And so a deal was cut that would have saved
most of the jobs. These guys said, we’re shutting you down, give us our money. They got their
money. JAY: What year are we in? PALAST: We’re in 2009. They got their money,
and then, between 2009 and 2011–even before that–they shut every single Delco parts plant
in the United States except one and fired every single UAW worker, every one, 25,200
UAW members, and moved the entire operation to China. And that story didn’t come out.
It was from my investigation for Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, and then we put it on the
cover of Nation magazine. JAY: Now, when do they buy the Delphi shares? PALAST: They bought the Delphi shares beginning
right after Delphi went into official bankruptcy– JAY: Which is? PALAST: –in about ’06, ’07. And then Singer
the Vulture moved in in June 2009. The two weeks–in two weeks, right after the government
already announced the deal, the government already announced that GM was buying back
Delphi with the owner of the Pistons, it was done. And in those two weeks, he secretly
bought up all–went around and secretly bought up old debts of the company, at least $1 billion,
face value, of debt. JAY: Singer does. PALAST: Singer did. JAY: Now, so how does it benefit–if Romney’s
plan for GM had been followed, which is allow it to go into bankruptcy, don’t give it emergency
funding in the course of that process, which, if I understand it correctly, is the main
difference between the Obama plan and the Romney plan, how does that help Romney vis-à-vis
Delphi? PALAST: Well, first of all, he covered it
up. So, remember, Romney knew that the bailout was going through. He knew this money would
be there. Don’t forget, it wasn’t Obama that created the bailout. Obama’s prancing around
giving himself medals for the auto bailout. That was George Bush. It was Bush who created
TARP. It was Bush who created the auto bailout operation, though it was Obama who created
the auto team, the–did the final negotiations. So Romney knew this was a cheap shot. In other
words, he could say, oh, well, I’m against the auto bailout. He actually–the term he
used was, Detroit doesn’t need a check, it needs a turnaround. Well, they got the check
and Romney cashed it. And, in fact, his campaign has not denied that he profiteered. He says
it’s Obama’s fault, believe it or not, it’s Obama’s fault that Romney got really, really
rich and probably about $115 million extra in his pocket, ’cause he said, basically,
Romney’s a smart businessman. If Obama was going to write the check–. JAY: And where did Romney acknowledge this? PALAST: He sent an email to the newsletter
The Hill, which is the kind of–. JAY: And The Hill’s printed this. PALAST: The Hill has printed the Romney campaign’s
statements verifying that he earned a big profit. JAY: Now, you would think this would be a
big story. There’s–if I understand correctly, there’s a presidential election going on,
and I believe Mitt Romney’s a candidate. You would think this would be a mainstream news
story and people would all jump on it, but they’re not. PALAST: Well, let me explain something. You
have to turn around. There’s a sign behind you that says The Real News. See, what we
get in mainstream news in America is unreal news, infonews, infotainment news. JAY: But wouldn’t the pro-Democratic Party
press, of which a lot of it is, wouldn’t they jump all over this? PALAST: They don’t want to touch anything
that involves going after the billionaires. And let’s not forget that there are three
billionaires here. One of them, Dan Loeb, was Obama’s biggest donor four years ago,
richest donor four years ago. Now he’s switched over to Romney. [incompr.] there’s too many
complexities here. However, I will say the Obama campaign did
spread around my story, I noticed. I certainly don’t like politicians using my stuff, but
go ahead. You know, it’s a free country. And still no one would touch it. And, I mean, one of the things is that I work
for BBC TV. A story like this, all my stories at BBC TV are the top of the nightly news.
And I write my stories for The Guardian newspapers. It is the front page of the biggest, most
influential newspaper in the world that goes all over the planet except the U.S.A. So these
stories–. JAY: Oh, The Guardian online’s big in the
U.S.A. It’s one of the–I think it’s in the top five news sites in the country. PALAST: For good reason, because you don’t
get real news except here or The Guardian and BBC. And to me, I must admit, I’m actually
quite stunned. And now this book I wrote with Bobby Kennedy–Bobby Kennedy’s my coinvestigator
at Rolling Stone and he’s a law professor. So he wrote a couple of chapters of this book.
And he’s just stunned, himself. We can’t get close to the American mainstream media. They
don’t want to touch it. They don’t want to do anything that involves, basically, as they
call it, class warfare. JAY: Okay. Well, we can do a whole segment
on that. Alright. If you want to see more detail of
this article, The Nation has printed the article. It’s based on a chapter in the book. And the
Nation article is called–. PALAST: The Nation article’s called “Mitt
Romney’s Bailout Bonanza”. And in the book, in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, it’s called
“Restore the Billionaires’ Future”. JAY: Okay. Great. We’ll do a–below this video
player you’re watching us in, there’ll be a link to the article. Thanks for joining
us, Greg. PALAST: You’re very welcome. JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real
News Network.