MI’s Gov and Lt Gov on Congress’ Failure to Support a Loan

Jennifer Granholm:

Republican senators have just delivered a fierce slap at three million workers across America. Their no vote is an astounding blow: They have chosen to ignore the livelihood of three million Americans, three million families, and in the process have chosen to drive the American manufacturing industry – and perhaps the American economy – into the ground. They are choosing foreign competitors over American industry and American workers. A nation without a strong manufacturing sector is a nation without a viable defense sector. This is a shameful day, a day we will not forget. I implore President Bush not to let the American economy slide from recession into depression as he leaves office. Direct the Treasury Secretary or the Chairman of the Federal Reserve to use their authority to save the American auto industry, three million American jobs, and our nation’s economy. The moment could not be more urgent. Mr. President, American workers are depending on you. Save these jobs.

John Cherry

We are witnessing Congressional unraveling of the American Dream and the demolition of the very foundation of our national security. A few beltway insiders who are completely out of touch with the struggles of American families decided to settle old political scores at the expense of millions of jobs and our national economic security. While bankers get the keys to the Treasury our manufacturers get a one-way ticket to bankruptcy and American families are left unprotected. 

My emphasis.

The Ideological Battle Over the Auto Overhaul Heats Up

I wanted to draw your attention to two statements about an auto bailout to show where this is going to go ideologically. First, Richard Shelby:

The financial straits that the Big Three find themselves is not the product of our current economic downturn, but instead is the legacy of the uncompetitive structure of its manufacturing and labor force. The financial situation facing the Big Three is not a national problem, but their problem. I do not support the use of U.S taxpayer dollars to reward the mismanagement of Detroit-based auto manufacturers in such a way that allows them to continue and compound their ongoing mistakes. [my emphasis]

Note his emphasis on "competitive" structures of doing business–and paying labor.

What Shelby doesn’t mention, of course, is that Alabama is a right to work state. Shelby also doesn’t mention that Alabama is home to Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, and Mercedes plants. Shelby also doesn’t reveal that many of the cars those manufacturers make in Alabama, without unions, are precisely the kind of behemoths critics attack Detroit for making–only these have foreign nameplates: M-Class SUV, GL-Class SUV (a new model), Pilot SUV, Santa Fe SUV, plus engines for Tacoma and Tundra pick-ups and Sequoia SUVs.

In other words, Shelby isn’t opposed to car companies that are stupidly committing and recommitting to SUVs. Rather, he’s just opposed to car companies that make SUVs with union labor.

Meanwhile, here’s Jennifer Granholm’s spin supporting a bailout.

Beyond the massive job loss, beyond the potential collapse of an entire economic sector, Congress and the Bush administration need to provide immediate assistance to the auto industry because America’s energy independence is a critical national need. And the U.S. auto industry is the sector to lead the way to that energy independence.

How? The car you drive will be the storage unit for your energy needs. Your home, your car, your appliances can all be powered through the advanced battery that will sit inside your plug-in electric vehicle. Today, most batteries come from Asia, and much of the oil comes from the Middle East. It is a national-security, energy-security imperative to produce advanced batteries and next-generation biofuels here at home.


Supporting the automotive industry through the current crisis and steering a clear transition to a low-carbon future will create millions of middle-class jobs that are vital to a strong economy while reinvigorating American technological superiority.

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Let the Governance Begin

Remember how, during the 2000 recount, the Bush team made a visible show of beginning their transition to power? That was about the last smart thing the Bush Administration did. It got people accustomed to the idea of Bush governing even before SCOTUS cast its vote.

In a similar move, Obama is beginning to tailor his events to show how he will govern, rather than just telling how he will do so. I strongly suspect that’s what his half-hour TV buy will do next week–it’ll look and feel like a presidential press conference, and he will presumably introduce what he would like to be included in the post-election stimulus package and beyond to fix the economy.

Similarly, at a campaign event in Florida today, Obama is showing the kinds of people he will listen to–and how he will listen (CNN stream here).  Obama has brought a bunch of swing state governors (Strickland, Granholm, Richardson–and I think Ritter, too), Paul Volcker, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and a small business owner to discuss how they would foster job growth. Sure, Obama got to make a speech about how he would invest in new jobs. And sure, most of the speakers reinforced Obama’s own policies (though, as an example, Richardson is disagreeing with him now, and telling him to ditch NCLB). But it puts Obama in the role he will be in–guiding the discussion of a lot of experts and listening. And he gets to make cracks like this:

I’m going to show the kind of leadership I’m gonna show in the White House. Anyone who wants to can take off their jackets. It’s really warm in here. This is how we’re going to do things in the White House–use some common sense.

All of which provides Obama with an opportunity to further ease the concerns of people who like Obama, but are just not yet comfortable enough he’s got the experience to be President.

To be honest, both of these events (the half hour presser and this jobs conference) are great politics. The presser gives Obama one last opportunity to get a bump from people seeing him and liking his calm on TV. This jobs conference pitches to a number of swing states–Granholm’s Michigan, Strickland’s Ohio, Richardson’s New Mexico, and Ritter’s Colorado. At the same time, it builds the pressure on Charlie Crist for his lukewarm support for McCain, even while providing a new twist on a campaign rally in Florida; in particular, Obama keeps bringing the general points back to issues that apply to Florida.

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