By Jessica Wehrman Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON— Three former Treasury officials told a congressional panel Tuesday that they deferred to General Motors on decisions that resulted in non-union Delphi retirees seeing their pensions slashed after the 2009 auto bailout.

Video 1 from the hearing Video 2 Video 3

The testimony of three members of the White House Automotive Task Force disputed Republican allegations that the Obama administration picked “winners” and “losers” in its $80 billion-plus bailout of the auto industry.

“I think what we did was reasonable,” said Ron Bloom, a task force member. “I think in the aggregate, the deal GM extracted from the UAW was reasonable.”

The testimony itself was long-awaited: Congress summoned the three task force members after they spent a year of refusing to be interviewed by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, who is tasked with auditing how the money was spent. “The happy train of silence and refusing to answer questions ends today,” said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, who told task force members Bloom, Harry Wilson and Matthew Feldman that they were summoned because they were stalling the special investigator’s audit of the bailout.

Turner replayed video of a June 2011 hearing in which Bloom agreed to submit answers in writing to three pages of questions from Turner, asking Bloom afterward why he had not answered those questions. When Bloom said it was because he had left government service, Turner was so dismayed that he held the hearing for an additional 30 minutes so he could ask Bloom for oral answers to many of those questions.

He also asked Feldman whether he had a “medical condition” that kept him from remembering some of the decisions he’d made while he was on the auto task force.

The task force, he said, was responsible for “billions of dollars” and “thousands of people’s lives,” and needed to be prepared to answer investigators’ questions as to what role they played in the process.

When General Motors and Chrysler went through bankruptcy in 2009, the Presidential Auto Task Force worked with GM, Chrysler, the United Auto Workers and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to help guide the auto manufacturers through the bankruptcy process. The process that followed resulted in Delphi union retiree pensions being “topped off” with $1 billion of federal money, while more than 21,000 non-union Delphi retirees nationally took cuts ranging from 30 to 70 percent.

GM owned Delphi until 1996, and Delphi still supplies auto components to the auto manufacturer.

“Despite working hard and playing by the rules, current and future Delphi retirees are now seeing their pensions and benefits reduced or eliminated. Our primary goal must be to restore these pensions and benefits for all Delphi retirees, Turner’s Democratic opponent in the November election Sharen Neuhardt said in a statement Tuesday.

Among the retirees impacted by the deal is Tom Rose, 65, of Washington Twp., who said he lost some 40 percent of his pension, as well as health and life insurance. He worked for Delphi for 39 years.

“I’m glad the union people got to keep their health care and life insurance,” he said. “They worked for it. But so did we. All we expect is fair and equal treatment.”

Former Task Force Member Harry Wilson, though, said decisions were made to provide the American auto industry with a “new lease on life.”

“The human costs of the GM rescue were deep, significant and tragic, and those suffering from losses of one kind or another have my deepest sympathies,” he said. “But those costs, as great as they were, pale in comparison to the cost of inaction.”