Reid to McConnell: Don’t Be a Scrooge! Pass Auto Stimulus

There has been a lot of reporting that an auto bailout is unlikely. While I think that’s probably true, I also wonder whether Chris Dodd’s claim that the votes aren’t there is based exclusively on discussions with Richard Shelby.

Dodd was listening, and in televised remarks later he appeared to dash any hopes of action until the new Obama administration is in place and Democrats have more Senate votes next years.

“Right now, I don’t think there are the votes…Dodd said. “You’ve heard Senator Shelby publicly speak out about his opposition to doing anything in the automotive area. So I want to be careful about bringing up a proposition that might fail in light of the fact the authority exists and under an Obama Administration there seems to be a greater willingness to deal with the issue.”

As I’ve pointed out, Shelby would love for the Big Three to fail so Japanese and Korean and German manufacturers can continue to make big gas guzzlers in his state, only without any competition from domestic manufacturers.

That said, Harry Reid has noticed something I did too: like Shelby, Mitch McConnell’s got some Japanese manufacturers in his state (though those factories produce more of the efficient cars in Kentucky–like the Camry–that every one thinks of Japanese manufacturers making). In addition, McConnell’s state is also home to some Ford and GM plants, including some key Ford truck plants. Those Ford plants, incidentally, are going to be idling through the entire Christmas season.

The United Auto Workers union says Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant will be idled for five weeks beginning the first of next month.

Also, The Courier-Journal reports that UAW Local 862 says the Kentucky Truck Plant will apparently shut down in mid-December until early February.

I would imagine, with thousands of his constituents out of work, Mitch McConnell is going to be hesitant to take a strong stand against bailing out those constituents.

Which is probably what Harry Reid is thinking, as he plans to push for unemployment and an auto bailout in the lame duck session.

Unless I hear from you to the contrary, I plan to press forward with two provisions of that package – an extension of unemployment benefits, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 368-28 and legislation to protect the millions of workers at risk from the possible collapse of our domestic auto industry. These two provisions both address especially urgent needs and seem most likely to win your support and the support of your caucus.

Like I said, the odds of passing an auto bailout during the lame duck session are still slim. But that reality is going to put the Minority Leader in a difficult spot.

17 replies
  1. randiego says:

    Unlikely now, or forever?

    I just don’t understand the Republicans play here. They look pretty bad over the continued ripoffs from the Financial Bailout. Doesn’t this just serve to cement their minority status? Exhibit A is McCain, who just couldn’t manage to use the phrase ‘middle class’ in his speeches or the debates, and got his ass handed to him…

    OT: Is it just me, or does today seem like a busy day?

    Leahy comes out against Holy Joe:

  2. DefendOurConstitution says:

    It would be lovely if Saxby Chambliss had to vote on this before runoff. Any bets on how he’ll vote?

  3. hackworth says:

    Reid is a lightening rod for criticism because he is mostly a wimp. Reid is finally doing a good thing here, if he doesn’t find a way to screw it up.

  4. hackworth says:

    ew, IIRC, The American Automotive Industry employs about 10 million people. It is important not to let it collapse.

    The Federal Gov should not bail them out, but it should make loans to them and or buy stock in the companies.

    The SEC needs to enforce laws against naked short selling.

  5. archiebird says:

    Okay, if the legislation fails to go through the Senate, is it plausible that the automakers could secure a loan from the private sector like Gates, or Soros, or Buffet? I mean just until January? I really have no clue if something like that is even possible.

  6. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    This topic is too big for me to get my head around, but I was able to hear Warren Olney’s “To the Point” on NPR today and one of the guests (a labor rep) made a very good point: ALL these companies are impacted by larger political issues — a key example being the lack of affordable health care in this nation.

    He pointed out that simply viewing the auto bailout as a public policy issue fails to address the larger issues involved. Japanese and German competitors don’t have the same health care and pension problems in their nations that US companies face.

    I’d rather see the government take on health care first, and THEN address the auto industry within that larger picture. Otherwise, underlying systemic issues will continue to sabotage Dem initiatives on auto industry problems.

  7. MadDog says:

    I’d guess the odds on passing an unemployment benefits extension package during the lame duck congressional session are better than a bailout package for the Big 2.5.

    The Repugs prefer the Big 2.5 enter bankrupcy which accomodates their union-busting desire, but they aren’t particularly interested in tens/hundreds of thousands of auto manufacturing sector employees/voters being entirely penniless.

    And the odds are that the Democrats will bow to the existing politics and presume they can return to a Big 2.5 bailout post 111th Congress.

    • hackworth says:

      NPR with Kai Risdall (sp) had David Leonhardt and a female guest. After some blather, both guests and Risdall generally defaulted to the Republican position – let them go BK. Then Leonhardt said that 20,000 jobs might be lost.

      There could be several million jobs lost as it trickles down.

      This is the only example in which trickle-down economics actually functions.

      Wealth does not trickle down, but bankruptcy trickles down quite effectively.

  8. archiebird says:

    Now Bush is talking about getting them their loans quickly. Uh Oh. Does that mean we have a Columbian Free Trade agreement upon the horizon?

    • emptywheel says:

      I think it means two things. One, he doesn’t think GM is bluffing. ANd two, that all the former Bushies who went to the US auto industry as lobbyists have been doing their job.

  9. JohnLopresti says:

    I hear Republicans laughing, though maybe because I need to read more about Reid’s record. I recall the hype when AFL-CIO had a falling out with SEIU; that is the hollow laughter I hear from management Republicans in the news, pitting newly coalescing Democratic party leadership against a fractious longtime mainstay in the unions. The Republican idea would be to have HenryP write a blank check now or in the 111th, maybe tease with a unions rustbelt only extension of UIB to tide them over the holidays; meanwhile brag to the residual Republican party leadership in the right-to-work states that the only solutions that are going to pass either now or in the 111th will benefit first the RTWstates. I have belonged to AFLCIO, SEIU, and subset Teamsters, so appreciate both the bureaucraticness of unions as obstacle, and solidarity as the only pushback that gets labor onto a bootstrap course. I look for this kind of opposition dividing strategy from Republicans to permeate the newLook foreign trade agreements Barack Obama would like to forge, as well. I would like to hear a realistic figure for the “retooling” suggested in auto mfg bailout discussions thusfar. Another strategem I think we are seeing is a subtle Republican impetus to make decisions now, before a topdown review of the reconception of the autoIndustry occurs as part of a new look to oversight of energy policy; this shortsighted approach feeds cronies now, without the agonies of reinventing the US autoWerks. I imagine Republican dealmakers being glad of no public spotlight on Palin now, a time when she likely would be badgering Democrats incessantly for the unseemly work of community organizing, one step removed from actual union organizing. I suspect I have a lot to learn here, as, to me, the union was one more hand in the till, and a misdirected voice at the bargaining table, which is probably part of the structural reason personally why none of the three to which I belonged over quite a few years vested me for retirement benefits; they have some fairly labyrinthine websites to match that bureaucratic tendency, as well. I think I need to read the capitalism 235, spring semester textbooks again, and see if any documents from the syllabus are available online. I suppose it is only that I notice these perennial incongruities when the Democratic party wins elections, as the Republicans do their utmost to silence the entire dialog.

  10. wavpeac says:

    sometimes this seems like such a daunting fight. It just seems like the biggest problem facing us in solving problems is the contant polarity and dichotomous thinking. I don’t know why it has to be black and white other than that those types of polar discussions benefit the republicans. The repbulican are very good at taking a polar position that we have a bias about and then using it to split the dems off. It’s like they have a personality disorder and know well how to split and triangulate us against ourselves.

    The only cure is to continue to focus on facts, truth, and to recognize those polarities as non existent points on a false map. The map is not the territory.

    On the one hand if we don’t do something to intervene in this mess, our economy will suffer, which translates into higher crime rates, more recessesion and great opportunities for the rich to pillage and plunder in fire sale after fire sale.

    And on the other side of the polarity is that if we bail out these corporations we are “sanctioning” or “enabling” violations of ethics and laws that were substantial and harmful to our economy.

    The dialectic for my money here is to take a strong stand to hold lawbreakers accountable, to restructure these companies using their own ethical codes as the foundation, and save these jobs.

    There are solutions but not in a black and white world. We would all benefit from remembering that whenever the republicans can put things in such polar terms, or when dems do it…it’s should be a great big YELLOW caution sign.

    Nothing is black and white, nothing.

Comments are closed.