As far as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is concerned, President-elect Barack Obama can, in the words of “Meet the Press” host Tom Brokaw, "look Detroit in the eye and say, 'Drop dead. ' "
Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Friedman told Brokaw: "He (Obama) may have to, Tom. You know, Carl Levin, [who was a guest earlier in the show] what did he say? He said, 'You know, just give us this $25 billion and, and we'll be OK.' Tom, if I thought with $25 billion we could save this industry, I'd be for it, OK? But I see no plan right now, no reason to suggest that these people who have driven this industry into a complete ditch have a plan to get it out in the long term and not come back to a six, three months from now, for another $25 billion. Show me that plan."
Friedman, whose most recent book is "Hot, Flat, and Crowded," recalled that Detroit's plan two years ago "was to subsidize gasoline at a $1.99 a gallon if you bought a Hummer or Suburban or a big truck — that was their idea of innovation. So, you know, it was like a crack dealer offering subsidized crack rather than, you know, going to a clinic to get — to get off the drug.”
"And, and who is the enabler of that?" Friedman said. "The enabler of that were the Carl Levins, all the Michigan delegation who didn't go to these people. The outrage of these people, 'Now they — we have to save these jobs!' Where was their outrage two years ago, OK, about getting them to be more innovative, to getting them on top of the energy efficiency question? They have been enabling the destruction of this industry. So show me a plan. Show me a plan that says if we give you this $25 billion you're actually going to change. Absent that — remember, Tom, we're going to charge this $25 billion on our kids' Visa cards. This goes on our kids' Visa cards, and we have a moral obligation to make sure this is spent wisely."
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