the tide it dc turns as dingell’s power wanes… what does it mean for michigan?

Today, in a 137 to 122 vote among members of the Democratic Caucus, it was decided that John Dingell, the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee since 1981, would be replaced by California Congressman Henry Waxman.

The unthinkable has happened, Big John has been dethroned, and everyone is trying to make sense of it. I haven’t looked into it much yet, but apparently the vote, to a large degree, was divided along generational lines, with Waxman getting the support of younger, and often more environmentally-minded, members of the House. People are saying that respect for seniority is now officially dead on the Hill. Word is that other long-time Chairs of powerful committees, like Charlie Rangel (Ways and Means) and John Conyers (Judiciary) are feeling vulnerable. Regardless of whether or not she planned it, one thing is certain — the position of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had sparred with Dingell in the past on global warming, is considerably strengthened by fellow Californian Waxman’s victory. On the face of it – and I know this is overly simplistic – it looks like a good day for California and the environment, and a bad day for Michigan and the Big Three.

One wonders what all of this really means for Michigan, though… With their biggest ally in Congress now unable to call the shots, one imagines that increased regulation of the Big Three is imminent. There’s no reason to think that Waxman, who has long been advocating for more stringent fuel efficiency requirements for decades, would change his tune now that he controls the gavel. I would contend that may not, however, be such a bad thing for the state of Michigan.

I’m sad to see Dingell go. I personally like the man. As I’ve expressed here many times in the past, I just wish he had been faster to embrace reality relative to the Big Three and their insistence on selling us large gas-guzzlers that are destroying our environment and wasting a valuable resource that would be better used heating homes. I wish it had been him who had taken the lead relative to fuel efficiency and global warming instead of Waxman. Michigan, as I’ve said previously, could have led the country on reform. Given his knowledge of the system, I think he really could have helped bring about positive change. Instead, however, he dragged his feet. He said that global warming was bunk, and, instead of using his considerable talents to see a new, sustainable model put in place, he used them to create diversions.

So, now we wait. We wait to see what fate the men and women of Congress decide upon for the Big Three, and therefore our state. Hopefully, they will be both fair and firm, giving us the money we need to retool, but making us first provide a detailed plan for the future. And, hopefully, they won’t be punitive beyond asking for the heads of a few C-level executives. Whether it be though structured bankruptcy or bailout, hopefully they work with us to get Michigan working again.

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11 Comments

  1. Andy
    Posted November 20, 2008 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Thanks for listening, God…

  2. Robert
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    NO!…Daddy :(

  3. applejack
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The question looking back now is whether Dingell’s “support” of the Big 3 in congress helped or hurt the car companies. They won the fights over higher fuel standards and similar legislation, but I think in the long run if they had lost they would be in a much better position right now. Making the transition to get green will be much more painful because they chose this route.

  4. egpenet
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ve already written congrats to Mr. Waxman. He’ll do a great job.

    I then wrote to Mrs. Pelosi, whose executive secretary is from Ypsilanti.

    I suggested to her that she ask her executive secretary about Ypsilanti to learn that this is the Arsenal of Democracy, STILL. We have the largest and most skilled industrial workforce on the planet. And we will need Congress’ help to go green.

    Here’s what I proposed:

    1 – Help retool GM and Ford to go back to what they did at the start of WWII … stop making cars (that they cannot sell, anyway) and retool to make diesel locomotives, electric trams and interurban vehicles, buses and shuttle vans.

    2 – GM, for instance, would keep Chevrolet and Cadillac. Let them cherry-pick one model from Pontiac or Buick. Then, re-tool the newest Buick and Pontiac plants to make buses, trams, rail cars and diesel engines under the old GM Truck & Bus Group and GM Diesel nameplates. Use available government monies to re-tool.

    3 – Ford would do something similar.

    4 – Chrysler would be sold by Cerebrus to whomever wanted the bits and pieces … even Ford or GM, perhaps.

    Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana have a lock on the best and brightest design, engineering and labor talent in the world. We don’t need them wasting time building cars no one wants or needs or can afford. But we DO need mass transit, inter urbans and trams. Let’s keep America rolling … GREEN.

  5. egpenet
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    And now that Dingell is out of power … Michigan is dead in the water in Congress.

    Conyers, the Levins’, Stabenow, et. al. … none have any official positions or influence that can translate into legislative support for Michigan. Support for unsustainable gas guzzling and union labor have cost us dearly.

    Adding a note here, that only very recently have the unions made real sacrifices and taken over pension liabilities. But that’s all much too late … and they may STILL lose it all or most of it when the industry goes bust.

  6. Old Goat
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Thirty years for nottin’!!!

  7. Brackache
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Yeah. First we’ll need to start a comprehensive moneytree planting program.

  8. Posted November 22, 2008 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    The honorable congressman has served about four terms too many, IMHO. It is long past time for us to have given him his gold watch for effort and sent him on his way.

  9. Meta
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Dingell may now challenge the current Chair of the Health Subcommittee for his seat:

    http://www.politickernj.com/wallye/25712/after-losing-waxman-dingell-might-challenge-pallone

  10. Meta
    Posted November 26, 2008 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Dingell has been hospitalized:

    http://www.freep.com/article/20081126/NEWS06/811260324

  11. Meta
    Posted December 16, 2008 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Dingell has been hospitalized again:

    http://www.freep.com/article/20081126/NEWS06/811260324

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