Tags: auto | bailout | congress

Wheeler: Senate Must Filibuster Detroit Bailout

By By Scott Wheeler   |   Wednesday, 10 Dec 2008 11:43 PM

Democrats in the House and Senate are seeking to create yet another constituency for themselves: the Big Three automakers.

It is a good play for Democrats if they can pull it off, because they currently have the labor unions associated with the car industry in their hip pockets.

With a huge bailout in the works, they are now creating a new constituency with the auto executives. Allowing Washington to control the auto industry can only ensure its ultimate failure.

Lest we forget, it was Congress’ management of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led to the financial institutions’ disaster.

What started out as a $30 billion-plus payout to the automakers has now turned into a $15 billion “bridge loan to nowhere.”

The best guess is it will keep the dying automakers alive until March or April.

The game plan is easy to understand. Get President George W. Bush to sign off on a smaller bailout. Next year the Democrats will have larger majorities in Congress and Obama in the White House to push through a much larger bailout.

But Republican Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby is a critic.

“I think this is a bridge loan to nowhere” Shelby told Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday.” And Shelby says getting to nowhere won’t come cheap.

“The first down payment is just the beginning. It's an installment plan of billions and billions and billions. And we don't know the end game.”

Shelby says that Ford, GM and Chrysler need to restructure. But if Congress is parceling out taxpayer money to support the current bloated state of the Big Three, then it is extremely unlikely that they will look inward and make the necessary cuts on their own.

And even if they did, with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi controlling the purse strings, no union jobs would be cut.

But that is precisely what does need to happen. A recent Heritage foundation study concluded: “UAW workers earn $75 an hour in wages and benefits – almost triple the earnings of the average private sector worker. Detroit autoworkers have substantially more health, retirement and paid time off benefits than most Americans.”

This means that most Americans would be forced to subsidize the salary and benefits of people considerably better off than themselves.

When Obama and the Democrats talked about redistributing wealth, could anyone have possibly imagined they meant taking money from low-income taxpayers and giving it to people who make three, four or more times what they make?

Many economists have recommended that Chapter 11 bankruptcy would be the best thing to facilitate the needed reorganization of the Big Three automakers.

For one thing, it would allow them to renegotiate labor contracts that are more consistent with their competitors in auto manufacturing.

But the Democrats have become a bailout juggernaut, and only a filibuster in the Senate can stand in the way of their assuming the financial reins of control over Detroit's complex of domestic auto producers.

I am encouraging all Americans to join with me in contacting their senators and demanding they filibuster this outrageous giveaway to Detroit.

Shelby signaled in his Sunday interview that he may be willing to go that route.

“I think we need to debate it. And that's what filibuster is about. And this week would be a good time to do it. I hope that we will be able to have an extended debate on it. We'll see what happens.”

Voices of the American taxpayers need to be heard on this issue before we are forced to buy another golden dipstick.

Scott Wheeler is executive director of the National Republican Trust PAC (GOPtrust.com), the nation’s third-largest political action committee.

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