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Auto Repair In the White House

Does Washington have a clue how Detroit works?

by
Brian Douglas

Bio

December 22, 2008 - 12:00 am
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Bailing out our domestic auto industry is not an easy task. After Congress ran Detroit’s Big Three executives through the mill, admonishing them for the audacity to arrive in corporate jets, they demanded another visit with business plan in hand.

Then after reviewing the plans, the response from Congress was “let’s make automakers commit to: a) keeping the high UAW labor costs, b) building cars that Congress approves of, c) promising not to resist individual state carbon emission initiatives, and d) putting up with a ‘Czar’ to micromanage operations.” Now there’s a recipe for commercial success.

Of course, Congress had to punt the automakers over to the White House, where after a week of deliberation, a solution was reached that nearly no one really likes. Fiscally responsible conservatives are not fond of tapping Troubled Asset Relief Program funds for anything other than the financial institutions they were intended for. A better answer would have been a structured reorganization, according to most on the right side of the isle.

Meanwhile, Democrats who count on labor for getting elected, don’t like the language. Nancy Pelosi complains: “The White House proposal unfortunately singles out workers and clearly puts them at a disadvantage before negotiations have even begun. … [A]ll laws governing fuel efficiency, emissions and improvements in automotive technology must be preserved.” She went on to say that Congress stands ready to work with all parties. That’s reassuring.

Meanwhile, most of the adult population is getting weary of all the billions of dollars tossed around the beltway like party favors. Sure, it’s essential to restart the economy, but most realize that cranking up printing presses to make money has the potential of turning our country into pauper status.

Since all of us have a stake in this game of automaking, how good are our chances of coming out of this without forfeiting our tax dollars? The answer to that question depends upon which automaker we’re talking about and just how soon our economy recovers. Success depends upon at least enough credit available to allow financing of new car sales. And little will happen until a good portion of the general public becomes more optimistic about the future and spends some money.

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