Last year, you may recall that President Obama took some flack for seeming to idealize Ronald Reagan. However you felt about those comments, I think we're seeing that they previewed an effort to emulate Reagan's tactics - in particular, when it comes to bailouts.
Reagan famously backed a massive increase in the defense budget and corporate welfare while pretending to be a budget hawk by bemoaning the supposed wastefulness of programs like welfare - programs whose expenditures were tiny in comparison to those on the Pentagon and corporate welfare.
Likewise, we've seen Obama support giving away hundreds of billions of dollars - no strings attached - to Wall Street banks while simultaneously presenting himself as getting tough on Corporate America with his promise to hold the auto industry accountable for its failures. Of course, the automakers are asking for a tiny fraction of what Wall Street has already gotten.
It's the same paradigm. Hand out huge sums of cash to powerful political constituencies (for Reagan, defense contractors; for Obama, Wall Street), withhold a relatively small amount of cash from disempowered political constituencies (for Reagan, welfare recipients; for Obama, struggling automakers) - then cite the latter action as proof of "toughness," and hope nobody remembers the former largesse.
I'm not saying the auto industry doesn't deserve to be pushed around - but I am saying that the Obama administration (at least when it comes to the issue of bailouts) is resurrecting the fundamentally dishonest tenets of Reaganism.