November 20, 2008

[H/t Heather]

I guess Lou Dobbs and Co. are giving up their populist "we're for the working class" pose, because yesterday Republican Rep. Darrell Issa appeared on the Dobbs program (with Kitty Pilgrim sitting in) to pile on after Mitt Romney's NYT op-ed telling Detroit to Suck. On. This.

ISSA: I think Mitt's right on. And you know, being the son of a man who turned Rambler/AMC around, he knows how hard it is to reinvent a company from one that isn't making good cars and not making competitive cars to one that can, in fact, survive.

Sure. Maybe that would explain why, as Jon Perr points out, Mitt Romney was all for doing whatever it takes to save Detroit back when he was running against John McCain in the Republican primary:

"I want to bring Michigan back. I am not willing to sit back and say 'too bad for Michigan, too bad for the car industry, too bad for the people who lost their jobs, they are gone forever.' I will not rest when I am president of the United States until Michigan is brought back."

He also told Michiganders:

"This state needs someone who cares about this state more than one day a year."

And as Perr points out:

Not once does Romney quantify the impact of his recommendation that "without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself." There is no estimate of the devastating job losses Big Three bankruptcies would produce or the estimated $200 billion impact in unemployment insurance and other government safety net payments which would result from the collapse of GM alone. And Romney is silent on the national security implications as the builders of Abrams battle tanks, Humvees and armored fighting vehicles face halting production during wartime.

No, as John Amato has been saying, when Republicans talk about "restructuring" the auto industry, they're not talking about reordering the corporate order of things, where CEOs and other executives reel in massive salaries and even more massive bonuses in spite of their shockingly lousy performances, while shipping thousands of U.S. jobs overseas.

They're talking about destroying the autoworkers' unions. Bankrupting the corporations would nullify all the existing union contracts. Whoever bought the companies (likely the Chinese) would be free to negotiate with whoever they like -- or, potentially, simply set up shop with no unions at all.

The auto industry is in dire need of a makeover. But allowing it to collapse isn't going to achieve that. That's like trying to put lipstick on a corpse.

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