"Washington will bail out those who shower before work, but not those who shower afterwards" - Leo Gerard, President, Steelworkers Union.
Gerard was commenting on U.S. Congress' seemingly double standard in providing massive Federal help to rich banks and its white collar employees while erecting stricter hurdles in order to help the Detroit auto industry that supports millions of blue collar workers.
Congress last week drove Detroit's Big Three CEOs out of Washington, D.C., ordering them not to return with their tin cups until they could guarantee that their auto companies will be viable if provided a $25 billion Federal bailout. In contrast, Citigroup was approved a $20 billion government loan just days later, within 48 hours of making that request to Federal officials. In October, the bank had already received its first $25 billion from the government, which this time also backed $306 billion worth of Citigroup's risky loans and securities.
Washington, D.C. is a white collar town. Several prominent figures in the banking industry - Citigroup's Robert Rubin, a former Secretary of the Treasury, and UBS's Phil Gramm, a former Texas Senator - previously worked in Washington and have the potential to influence its policies. It's not surprising that Congress is therefore seen more sympathetic to the cause of the banking industry compared to that of the auto industry in Detroit, a blue collar town, by contrast.