Cynical Synapse

Fri, 19 Dec 2008

Who Threw Shoes at US Automakers?

Filed under: Business, Caesar Chavez, Civil liberties, Driving, Duh, Gas Prices, Hugo Chavez, Michigan, Patriotism, Safety — cynicalsynapse @ 9:05 pm

By now, you probably know President Bush has promised up to $17.4 billion in loans to US automakers. This takes the shape of a $13.4 billion emergency loan from the so-called Troubled Asset Relief Program, with another potential $4 billion in February, if they need it. I realize some think this just delays the inevitable, but I’ll bet big money we won’t hear about AIG-style conferences and unrealistic bonuses for the US automakers. Never mind the corporate jets, which may not be so extravagant after all when you consider how much CEOs make per hour.

What’s significant, however, is what Senators happily promised $700 billion to the financial charlatans, while adding another $100+ billion for their own interests, but didn’t think $25 billion was warranted for an industry with 3+ million direct employees. Did your Senator think it’s ok to manipulate numbers on a spreadsheet, attend conferences at resorts, and pay bonuses even when profits are zero or less? More importantly, did your Senator think that behavior deserved saving while people building tangible products—automobiles—should be put out of work?

The Senate’s roll call votes are on their website, including for the Wall Street bailout and whether or not to consider assisting US automakers. FYI, I use the term US automakers in regard to the so-called Big 3—Chrysler, Ford, and GM—who all have their headquarters in metropolitan Detroit. I do not use the term Detroit in reference to them because they all have plants and facilities in dozens of states. In fact, Chrysler’s website claims operations in all 50 states.

The Shoe Throwers

I so wanted to be able to point the finger that the over-vocal “anti-Detroit” Senators from southern states hosting transplant auto plants, Alabama’s Shelby in particular. Looking for the hipocrites, I compared Senate votes for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and against even taking up the rescue of the domestic auto industry. While dissatisfied with finding Shelby voted against both bailouts, he wins points for being consistent. You have to respect that, since it seems politicians often change positions based on what seems most expedient. So, like it or not, Senators Shelby (R-AL) and DeMint (R-SC) win points for opposing both aid schemes.

There are, however, 22 US Senators—almost a quarter of them—who anxiously gave $700 billion (plus that $100 billion in special deals) to the financial charlatans while refusing to consider helping America’s manufacturing base and blue collars. The fact those opposed to the auto rescue but in favor of saving high finance are 83% Republicans does nothing to dissuade popular opinion of either an East Coast favoritism or an anti-union sentiment. So, who are these two-faced people who are supposed to represent their constituents? Who was it that easily gave money to the financial industry—the very ones responsible for the current situation—while reaping scorn and disgust on hard-working Americans?

Here’s a list of Senators who had no qualms about padding the pockets of financial quacks but dissed average workers by refusing to consider manufacturing as worthy. Remember this at the next election.

  • Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Lincoln (R-AR)</li
  • Kyl (R-AZ)
  • McCain (R-AZ)
  • Martinez (R-FL)
  • Chambliss (R-GA)
  • Isakson (R-GA>)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • McConnel (R-KY)
  • Coleman (R-MN)
  • Baucus (D-MT)
  • Ensign (R-NV)
  • Reid (R-NV)
  • Gregg (R-NH)
  • Burr (R-NC)</li)
  • Coburn (R-OK)
  • Thune (R-SD)
  • Corker (R-TN)
  • Hutchison (R-TX)
  • Bennett (R-UT)
  • Hatch (R-UT)

At best, President Bush bought time for President-elect Obama, a move not lost on the future president. At worst, the automaker rescue effort won’t be any more effective than its bigger sibling, the financial bailout. In any case, the financial liability of the auto industry is only 2.5% compared to 150% in labor implications.

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