Friday, November 14, 2008

Senate to Take Up Auto Bailout Bill on Monday

Debate starts Monday, procedural vote on Wednesday, with much begging and pleading to take place between now and then.

Chris Dodd says not enough votes. Carl Levin disagrees. The word "loan" doesn't seem to stick, and an interesting numbers game plays out in the Senate with Obama's resignation.

The House returns to work Wednesday and will likely have an easier time passing an auto bailout because they have a larger Democratic majority.

Senate Democrats have a 51-49 majority -- and President-elect Barack Obama plans to resign Sunday and Vice President elect Joe Biden -- a Delaware senator -- doesn't plan to take part.

A new poll by Peter D. Hart Research Associates says the majority of Americans support the bailout. Hart is a Democratic pollster, and this poll was paid for by GM, but they had "no input or review of the design, methodology, content or interpretation" in the findings. So, take it for what it is worth - one snapshot of public opinion.

By nearly two-to-one, Americans said the U.S. government should provide loans to American automakers, according to a poll released today by Peter D. Hart Research Associates.

"Americans' broad support for providing government assistance to the auto industry is built mainly on a genuine fear that a failed GM, Ford, and Chrysler could lead to a depression," said Peter Hart, chairman of the firm. "But their support also is grounded in the hope that a revitalized auto industry could mean good things for the manufacturing sector and the country as a whole."

The Hart poll, conducted Nov. 11-12, found that 55 percent of Americans believe that the government should provide loans to American automakers "so they have the money to manufacture vehicles," while 30 percent opposed it.

WOOD added up the damage on what this could mean to Michigan in the way of job loss and the consequences to suppliers, and points out that we are not just talking about the Big Three here - we put the whole system at risk with a domestic collapse.

"Some very prominent analysts have said that if General Motors does go this way and it's not handled properly, Ford's not very far behind," said analyst Kim Korth, president of IRN. "And if Ford's not very far behind then you do put at least Honda if not Toyota at risk."

That's because the firms making cars in the U.S. -- whether foreign or domestic -- use many of the same suppliers. A GM failure could put GM suppliers at risk, and if those suppliers can't stay in business it could threaten the other domestic and foreign firms.

"To think that it's just at the General Motors level is phenomenally naive," Korth told 24 Hour News 8.

The industry employs 443,700 people in Michigan, according to the latest numbers from the state. That's a number roughly equal to the populations of Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Walker, Wyoming, Kalamazoo and Holland.

The governor has been using "400,000 manufacturing jobs lost in Michigan" on her blitz of the national media, and I believe she was referring to the past eight years as a time frame. While we probably wouldn't lose all 443 thousand jobs with a Big Three collapse, we might lose a substantial number of them. Just what will that do to an already struggling state economy?

Right now I'm trying not to have knee-jerk reactions to all the progressives that want to argue about CAFE standards and let the industry just die - so I think I'll just ride this out and see what happens. There are lots of valid arguments going on out there to be sure, but I can't imagine taking the gamble of letting the industry fail and throwing all these people out of work.

Patience. Let's see where this goes.