"We did not feel we had any available financial tools, and secondly, we did not think that the prospect of legislation was even close to viable," said White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling.
He said the odds of a federal bailout for Detroit were so low that a public discussion of the matter would have done no more than provide a "false hope" to those seeking federal assistance for the city that declared bankruptcy with a debt of $18.5 billion, the Detroit News reported Tuesday.
"To have floated [the idea of a bailout] would have given false hope and taken people's eyes off the important task ahead," Sperling said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
"What we tried to do was make cit clear that the federal government -- we did not have tools are our disposal that could be helpful to Detroit," he said.
The Obama administration chose, instead, to connect Detroit with as many federal grants as it could to speed up a recovery for Motor City. The White House said in September it had made $300 million in federal grants available to help restore economic activity in the city.
President Barack Obama met with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan for lunch Friday, a meeting Sperling said was "very positive."
"It wasn't about bailouts. It was about what we could do to work together," Sperling said about the meeting.