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The agenda: Is the car bailout dead?

It looks like a bailout for the automakers is dead this year. Per the New York Times, "The prospects of a government rescue for the foundering American automakers dwindled Thursday as Democratic Congressional leaders conceded that they would face potentially insurmountable Republican opposition during a lame-duck session next week."
More: "[S]ome industry experts fear that one of the Big Three automakers will collapse before then, with potentially devastating consequences. Despite hardening opposition at the White House and among Republicans on Capitol Hill, the Democrats said they would press ahead with efforts to provide $25 billion in emergency aid for the automakers. But they said the bill would need to be approved first in the Senate, which some Democrats said was highly unlikely."

David Brooks makes the cases against bailing out Detroit.

Yes, Virginia there is a "Senate Auto Caucus." NBC's Ken Strickland reports that it's co-chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican George Voinovich of Ohio. And if financial assistance package for the auto industry is going to pass in the Senate, it's going to need the support from this bipartisan group, especially among Republican members. Yesterday, Voinovich signaled his support for using funds from the $700-billion rescue package Congress recently passed to assist US automakers. According to his senior aide Chris Paulitz, the senator is working with the Michigan delegation to pass legislation during next week's lame duck session.  "The senator believes helping the automakers remain viable is truly putting Main Street over Wall Street," Paulitz said.

While membership in the Auto Caucus may not translate into automatically supporting taxpayers' dollars to help the Big Three, Strick adds, it does make them people to watch as any legislation moves forward. On his Web site, Levin said the group "provides a forum for senators to exchange ideas and influence policy on issues affecting the U.S. automotive industry." According to membership list provided by the caucus co-chairmen, the Republicans are Kit Bond (MO), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Mitch McConnell (KY), Jim Inhofe (OK), Arlen Specter (PA), Jeff Sessions (AL), Saxby Chambliss (GA), Richard Lugar (IN), Lamar Alexander (TN), and Susan Collins & Olympia Snowe (ME).  (At this point, Voinovich has been the only Republican to come out publicly in support assistance to the automakers.)

The White House is going to YouTube, the Washington Post reports. "Today, President-elect Obama will record the weekly Democratic address not just on radio but also on video -- a first. The address, typically four minutes long, will be turned into a YouTube video and posted on Obama's transition site, Change.gov, once the radio address is made public on Saturday morning. The address will be taped at the transition office in Chicago today." 

Obama's first post-election interview went to Ebony magazine. "In an interview to appear in its January 2009 issue, Obama spoke on issues including his historic election, international reaction to it and his hope to capitalize on the enthusiasm of millions of supporters, Ebony said in a statement."

Obama will appear on 60 Minutes Sunday night.

TPM's Greg Sargent reports that "a big pro-labor group headed by David Bonior is preparing to launch a three-week national TV ad campaign to push the new government to deliver on one of labor's top agenda items: The Employee Free Trade Act. This is significant, because it's the first of what will be many advocacy ads hitting the airwaves demanding action from the government that takes power in January -- or opposing such action, as the case may be. Bonior's group, which is called American Rights at Work, will be going up with the spot for three weeks on national cable -- CNN, MSNBC, and CNN Headline News -- a senior official with the group tells me. 'It's a significant buy,' he says."

Could the Obama campaign NOT turn their machine over to the DNC? The Los Angeles Times: "The Obama machinery relied heavily on idealistic political outsiders committed to breaking free from old ways of doing politics. The worry is that these enthusiastic activists might drift away if they are turned over to the Democratic National Committee, where the party might ask them to support Democrats and target Republicans."

More: "But one indication of where his senior advisors stand came this week, when campaign manager David Plouffe used Obama's vaunted e-mail list to ask for donations to help the DNC retire its debt. He even threw in an enticement that might appeal to Obama's universe of small-dollar donors: a Change Can Happen T-shirt for those who contribute at least $30. The e-mail suggests that at least one of the most senior advisors is not hesitant about melding the campaign and the party. 'We'll get to work transforming this country,' Plouffe wrote in the e-mail. 'But first, we need to take care of the DNC.'"