Three Auto State Senators “Said in a Statement”

For an example of just how crappy the reporting on a potential auto bridge is, check out this NYT article. Its title announces "Republicans Divided on Aid to Automakers." Yet the part of the article that purportedly tells that story consists solely of statements of the four most invested Republican Senators on the issue.

Kit Bond (who co-sponsored past efforts with Carl Levin):

“I’m glad the Democratic leadership has embraced the principles of the Bond-Levin bill to hold auto companies accountable, protect taxpayers and save millions of American jobs as we head into the holiday season,” Mr. Bond said in a statement.

Bob Corker: 

“Based on the outline we’ve seen so far, we are disappointed,” Mr. Corker said in a statement. He reiterated his demands that the automakers make aggressive efforts to cut labor costs and reduce their overall debt obligations before receiving any aid.

“These are the same types of conditions a bankruptcy judge might require to ensure that these companies become viable and sustainable into the future,” Mr. Corker said. “And if they will agree to these terms, then we have something to talk about.”

Mitch McConnell:

“I look forward to reviewing the legislation being drafted to address the difficulties in our auto markets,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement. “As we consider this legislation, our first priority must be to protect the hard-earned money of the American taxpayer.”

And a gratuitous inclusion of Richard Shelby, though he apparently hasn’t issued any new statement, but somehow gets included, based on no apparently new reporting:

The senior Republican on the banking committee, Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, has said he will oppose any taxpayer-financed bailout for the auto industry, and other fiscal hawks are likely to join him in opposing the measure.

This is what counts as reporting these days for the NYT. Three official statements probably gleaned from press releases, thereby letting those most invested in this debate stand in for those who will determine its outcome.

In spite of the fact that every single Republican listed (along with Carl Levin) is an auto state Senator of one sort or another, David Herszenhorn doesn’t apparently consider that information to be noteworthy (indeed, he attributes Shelby’s opposition to any bailout to fiscal conservatism, not anti-union ideology and home state self-interest). Read more

Did Bob Corker Just Cause GM to Lose 10% of Its Value on Inaccurate Information?

picture-61.pngBob Corker is very busy trying to force the Big Two and a Half into bankruptcy so he can bust the UAW. He’s using all the regular methods–arguing about GM’s failed business model, arguing that they haven’t changed their business plan.

But he went over the line, earlier, when he stated that the Department of Energy had rejected all the Big Two and a Half’s applications for DOE funds to retool their factories to produce more efficient cars. Basically, he took the opportunity of the hearing to announce, publicly, that the companies weren’t going to get $3 to $7 billion they were counting on to turn around their business. He even suggested that the applications were rejected because they weren’t viable companies.

Only, he was wrong.

Funny thing is, though, the stock market didn’t wait until Sherrod Brown came in and corrected Corker–by noting that the DOE had not rejected the applications, but had simply asked for more information. And it didn’t wait until Corker himself–having been called by the guy awarding those loans–admitted that he was wrong. (Though, dead-ender that he is, Corker still tried to insinuate that they applications were rejected, rather than sent back for more clarification.)

Not long after Corker made those remarks, GM’s stock price dropped from $4.44 to $4.27. And then it dropped again, from $4.27 to $4.02. $.42 altogether, all shortly after Corker insinuated false things about government decisions in a widely and closely watched hearing.

I know that $.42 might not be much to you, Bob Corker. I know you’re working hard to bankrupt these companies.

But it really is rather bad form to take out 10% of a company’s stock price just so you can make an ideological point.