Fiscal conservatives won a key victory over big government when Republican senators successfully filibustered the Big Three automakers bailout package.
Now President Bush wants to undo that victory as he seeks to find a way around the bailout's defeat and deliver billions of taxpayer dollars to the failed automakers and labor unions despite the will of Congress.
The president is said to be still undecided about his next move on the auto bailout but apparently is considering whether he can divert unused money from the financial bailout. Ironically, the party that has spent the past seven years calling Bush a war criminal stands to gain big if he does override the will of Congress.
The bailout is heavily favored by congressional Democrats seeking to win favor with United Auto Workers and other labor unions for which they have created for themselves a permanent constituency. Indeed, Bloomberg News quoted Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker as saying that the "United Auto Workers wouldn't agree to wage and benefit cuts as part of a bid for government aid because it was sure the Bush administration would bail out the automakers."
Many have declared from the beginning that this is a big Democrat payoff to the labor unions, and now they are very close to getting President Bush to sign the ticket for them after Republicans were able to stop the process in its tracks.
The president says he is still undecided about using money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to send to Detroit but whether it is TARP funds or some other source, as Sen. Richard Shelby has said, it is only a down payment with more to come.
The story that we are being sold is that if the auto companies are not bailed out, more than 2 million labor union member (read Democrats) jobs will be lost. How can anyone tell?
The debate seems to focus on only two possible outcomes: If automakers get the bailout money, they live another day, but if they don't get it, the dire presumption is that they will shut their doors. But there are many other options.
One would be to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy, restructure their debt, renegotiate their union contracts and learn to survive the way other domestic car manufacturing companies do.
If union members are unwilling to take a salary cut in order to keep their jobs, then they deserve to be replaced by non-union workers.
A byproduct of this could be the Democrat-voting labor union members would be forced to go start a business of their own, at which time they would likely start voting Republican. And it is not just a bailout of a large Democratic voting bloc, it is also a bailout of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a tendentious Democrat who tried to blame Bush for the failing economy in her state of Michigan during her 2006 bid for re-election even though many Democrats blamed the state's failing economy on her.
If the government does bail the Big Three out, why is there any reason to believe they won't be back in three months asking for more? Where does it end?
Detroit automakers are all part of brittle corporate structure that has failed to properly react to a changing economy. Taxpayer money is not the cure for what ails the auto industry, and President Bush should know this.
Scott Wheeler is the executive director of the National Republican Trust PAC.
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