Friday, December 12, 2008

GOP Senators to Big 3: Drop Dead

Yesterday Senate Republicans defeated a bill to bailout Detroit carmakers, then blamed it on the United Auto Workers. In a transparent attempt to destroy the union, Republicans blamed the U.A.W. for their own intransigence, risking the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler to further their narrow-minded parochialism and ideological extremism:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) then outlined what he said was a simpler alternative to the White House-brokered bill, which he called "a very poor product." He proposed giving General Motors and Chrysler the loans they want in return for three covenants, the first of which would require the companies by March 15 to either reduce their debt by two-thirds or file for bankruptcy. The other two covenants would require concessions from the United Auto Workers union and the companies' bondholders.


"Instead of the car czar, this ought to be titled the president's puppet," complained Corker, echoing the concerns of many of his GOP colleagues. Corker yesterday unveiled an alternate proposal that would force bondholders in the car companies to accept equity as partial payment; force the UAW to immediately reduce worker pay packages to match Nissan, Toyota and Honda; and ban compensation to idled workers, among other provisions.

"If we don't have the forced restructuring plans in place, many of us don't believe that American car companies will come out of this in a competitive position and the taxpayers' money will be wasted," said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).

Ensign added that he fears a car czar would not have the expertise to deal with the auto companies. "When GM, Ford, Chrysler, their management teams have not been able to run their companies, obviously, very well, how does anybody expect some car czar or some politician to be able to make the decisions that are right from a business standpoint?"

Democrats have resisted forced restructuring, arguing that, under the Bush administration it could amount to open season on the UAW. They also sympathize with the automakers' argument that bankruptcy proceedings would scare off potential buyers.

As DHinMi at Daily Kos relates, it's all a crock:
The job bank provision is a canard, because the UAW and the Big Three are already eliminating it. So what this really is about is playing chicken with the economy and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers. A majority of GOP senators are either stupid and convinced that the problem with the Big Three is labor costs. In fact, many of the problems facing the Big Three aren't specific to them. The worldwide auto industry is a mess, due to the freeze on credit; worldwide trade is expected to decline for the first time since 1982.
I've had it with Republican shortsightedness, union-busting, and corruption. They would rather see General Motors and Chrysler go into bankruptcy and see over 5 million jobs disappear, than help these companies, whose workers and their unions helped defeat their party in this year's election. These traitorous Repugs don't care if the American manufacturing base destroyed, as long as unions are destroyed, and foreign companies continue to build non-union auto plants in their states. They don't care if their actions deepen and legthen the recession or bring on a full-scale depression.

Jeff at The TC Daily Liberal was never so right as when he described the Republican Party as
the party of obstruction and pettiness. They don’t stand for anything, yet they’re always willing to pick a fight...The Republicans have put their war against the unions ahead of the health of our economy.

The irony, of course, is that their vote is going to be meaningless anyway. The Bush administration will probably use TARP money to give automakers the $14 million anyway. All the Republicans did was show that they’re still not willing to compromise. No matter how grave the circumstances, nothing will make them turn away from their petty attacks and act in our economy’s best interest.
Exactly so. Make no mistake, this is about union-busting, pure and simple. This is about trying to finish, in their final weeks with some power, the job that Reagan started when he destroyed PATCO.

Again from Daily Kos, Senaca Doane writes:
I am sympathetic to those who don't want public money spend on private enterprise, or who don't trust the management of the Big 3, or who think that the Big 3 are doomed anyway, or who think that the bureaucracy of the UAW is top-heavy and wasteful. To various degrees and with varied levels of enthusiasm, I accept all of these critiques.

And yet, our decision now is not to get rid of the Big 3 or their leadership. They will head to bankruptcy, under current management, if no bailout is forthcoming.

It is not about whether to save public money (more of which will go into cleaning up the consequences of an auto industry failure than would be spent now.)

It is about one concern only: the destruction of the UAW and as much of the American labor movement as the Republicans can manage in these last few weeks before their power is sapped.


Unionism is seen by conservatives as unnecessary, socialistic, out of touch, out of date -- everything that has been said about unions since they first ever came into being. These arguments are part and parcel with non-enforcement of working conditions laws and elimination of the minimum wage: they think that America would be better off if our workers were as desperate and meek as those of China.

...Put aside for now the significant benefits that the union movement (for all its troubles) has conferred on both unionized and non-unionized workers in the past century or so -- and don't think for a moment that those non-unionized auto workers in the South would have, or will have, relatively decent pay and good working conditions were it not for the need to compete with the packages negotiated up north by the UAW. Consider instead the tremendous benefits that movement has conferred upon the Democratic Party.

For much of the 20th century, it was union-provided labor that allowed Democrats to stay competitive with Republican financial advantages.

Still, when Democrats meet, we often as not meet in union halls. When we phone bank, it is often in union halls, with union workers joining other activists on the phones.

If you want to know whether a white working or middle class voter will vote Democratic, one of the best predictors has long been: "do they have a union job?"

I do not give one jolly quivering monkey hump whether you like the union movement or whether you see problems with the union movement (as in some ways I do) or whether you have substantial disagreements on policy with the union movement (as I do.) The vote taking place this week in the Senate is about Republican attempts to dismantle the Democratic coalition.
This is the hidden core of Republican opposition to a bailout. We can't let them get away with this. Right or wrong, the Big 3 have to be saved.

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