bailout challenge shows how little pull michigan has

6 in 10 Americans don’t feel as though the Big Three should be bailed out, and, according to Harry Reid, it looks as though they might get their wish. Reid says they don’t have the votes in the Senate to make the bailout happen. So, it looks as though there’s a chance that the CEOs of the Big Three might walk away with nothing, even after putting their corporate jets up for sale, accepting salary cuts, getting concessions from the unions, and delivering something of a plan. And it doesn’t look like Bush is coming to the rescue. It seems to me that, eventually, someone has to step in and keep them from failing, but who knows? Maybe the folks in Washington are just trying to drive the per-share price of their stocks down with an eye toward buying them. That’s what Michael Moore is suggesting today, at least for GM. He says that, instead of giving GM the $12+ billion they’re asking for, we should just buy up all of their common stock for $3 billion and own them outright. Here, in case you haven’t seen Moore’s article, is a clip:

…Transporting Americans is and should be one of the most important functions our government must address. And because we are facing a massive economic, energy and environmental crisis, the new president and Congress must do what Franklin Roosevelt did when he was faced with a crisis (and ordered the auto industry to stop building cars and instead build tanks and planes): The Big 3 are, from this point forward, to build only cars that are not primarily dependent on oil and, more importantly to build trains, buses, subways and light rail (a corresponding public works project across the country will build the rail lines and tracks). This will not only save jobs, but create millions of new ones….

As a Michigander, it irks the hell out of me to see the Wall Street fat cats belly up to the feeding trough time after time, with no questions asked, while the CEOs of our state’s largest employers are ridiculed and forced to jump though hoops. I’d like to join the chorus of locals demanding that we should get “our share” of the bailout bonanza, but the truth of the matter is that they aren’t being too hard of the Big Three. They’re just being too easy on everyone else. They should be grilling the CEOs of Fannie Mae and AIG about their jets, but they won’t do that, because they’re friends. The men and women of the Big Three, it’s become painfully clear, don’t know shit about how this country is run. The sad truth of the matter is that Michigan is fly-over state that no one in power gives a shit about. Our influence, if we ever had any, has gone the way of the Dingell.

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  1. Posted December 4, 2008 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    I agree that they are being way too easy on everyone else. That should have stopped long ago but they keep giving and giving. There is no more to give.

    The auto is obsolete. No one wants the expense of owing one anymore because they have begun to realize the true expense. I do not know one young person who wants to own a car.

    I don’t think it’s about Michigan or the fly-over status. I do think it’s about vision, which the automakers lack and the politicians appear to lack.
    Perhaps the lack of vision in both will lead them to the same place.

    If we could get off the kick of building roadway infrastructure and concentrate instead on rail, think of the possibilities. Depot town could be booming. Rail cars, built by automakers, could be sleek and jobs would be saved. Sleepy rural towns where many auto employees live could become rail stops again.

    Here in NM an increased sales tax has been voted on to support a spaceport. I guess the Wall Street fat cats will be the only ones using that. Instead that tax money could have gone to extend rail and would have increased far more tourism/transportation for locals.

    Lack of vision is epidemic. Automobiles are obsolete.

    Battery technology is another sector the auto industry could expand within.

  2. Posted December 4, 2008 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that the automobile is obsolete. That’s not exactly realistic. Not everyone lives in the city and not every business could be accessed via rail. It would take everyone to relocate, residentially and commercially, into a big cluster and there’s just no money to do all that. If this was sim city we could just start over but that’s just not the way it is. Rail needs to be a supplement to cars but not a replacement. And I think sales are down mostly because people still use cars, but they’re just holding onto their perfectly good used car instead of selling it for a brand new one.

    I think the Big Three will get their bailout, but congress is just leery of public opinion and wants to reassure taxpayers that they’re not just handing out money like it was nothing.

    I’m just wondering what the long term effects will be of printing money from the treasury like it was nothing.

  3. egpenet
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Michigan has no one in Congress with leadership status on committees or in the White House.

    I have written to Pelosi, Waxman and others about giving money to the Big Threee to retool for mass transit in exchange for reducing personal transportation products by 60%.

    Michael Moore and others have done the same.

    Michigan has little negotiating power other than the voice of the people. If we win help from the Feds it will be from the bottom up, not from the top down.

    The unions and the people of Michigan needs to be heard. The Feds are NOT going to respond to the corporations, who appear to want to simply save what they have and not truly reshape their business model.

  4. Bob
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I think people are mostly missing the point. It’s a war on the working class in America. It started with the Regan administration and has continued to accelerate. Clinton being just as guilty as W. in the grand scheme of things. Congress continues to roll over for the elite, providing a huge cash gift to the greedy bankers, and asking for nothing in return. Meanwhile the auto industry (union workers) gets humiliated for trying to get a much smaller amount of money in the form of a loan.

  5. Posted December 4, 2008 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Several of us environmental law professors / public interest attorneys have been in touch with key Congressmen and Senators this week asking why is Congress not going to simply enact – as a condition of any bailout money – a statute that says federal courts in Vermont and California were right: the federal fuel economy law does not preempt state greenhouse gas laws? That would put an end to the lawsuits by GM and Chrysler against the 14 states covering half of our nation’s population that are trying to require better fuel efficiency. It would remove the risk of a conservative appellate panel of the 9th or 2d circuit courts of appeal reversing Judges Sessions or Ishii, even if people like me think the states will win these appeals. It would remove the risk of the Rhode Island or New Mexico cases currently pending yielding a different result from those reached by the Vermont and California courts, again even if people like me think the states will win all these cases all the way through all the appeals.

    We’ve also asked that the Congressional hearings be used for asking questions of the Detroit CEOs like “Will you drop your lawsuits against the states in exchange for the bridge loans?” “Will you (GM) agree as a condition of the loan package to sell your intellectual property for the EV1 electric vehicle – the vehicle that you killed and crushed under the pretense that no one wants a plug-in electric car – to someone else willing to build that car?”

    Well, we are starting to get some potentially good news. Barney Frank (the House committee chair holding hearings) is saying to us that (1) no federal loan money should go to Detroit without enactment of a legal provision making clear that EPCA (the CAFE standard law) does not preempt state greenhouse gas regulations on motor vehicles that are duly adopted under the Clean Air Act and further that he will talk to the Speaker about that; (2) he will ask questions of the CEOs or other company witnesses on Friday about whether they would drop the lawsuits as part of the federal loan package deal; and (3) he will ask questions of GM about the EV1, in particular, whether GM will sell its EV1 intellectual property to another company to make that vehicle as part of federal loan deal.

  6. Robert
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Worse than the folks at the Big Three not knowing how the country is run is the fact that the folks in Congress generally don’t know how critical manufacturing is to an economy.

  7. Meta
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I guess $65 million doesn’t buy as many friends as it used to. Here’s a quote from CBS News:

    The auto industry spent nearly $50 million lobbying Congress in the first nine months of this year. And people tied to the auto industry gave another $15 million in campaign contributions.

  8. Meta
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    That article also has some good stuff n Dingell’s financial ties to the industry.

  9. Suzie
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    >simply save what they have and not truly reshape their business model.

    The financial industry was no different.

    Noah- some great ideas there.

  10. Kazoo
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Cyndy are you mad? The automobile is far from obsolete. And further, I don’t know a single person young or old that doesn’t want a car. I lived in Chicago for many years. the only reason people don’t have cars in big cities is it costs hundreds of dollars a year to park the thing, and if you want to drive somewhere, there is never enough parking spots. Its a matter of practicality, not desire.

  11. Kazoo
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    EDIT…i mean hundreds of dollars a MONTH.

  12. Brackache
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink


    Bailouts suck, intervention bad, blah blah blah.

  13. Posted December 4, 2008 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    “The auto is obsolete. No one wants the expense of owing one anymore because they have begun to realize the true expense. I do not know one young person who wants to own a car.”

    This is dumb. Most people want a car. Maybe you are hanging around with some fruity hippies who don’t work?

  14. Robert
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Brackache just isn’t putting the energy into his posts he used to. He needs to get his rant back.

  15. Brackache
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Ach, it’s pointless. I’m even sick of hearing myself.

  16. applejack
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I guess this discussion is as good a place as any to finally reveal the (slight) connection I have to Michigan politics which I alluded to in one of my first posts on the site:

    The link above is a video clip from a c-span segment this morning with my uncle, Virg Bernero (mayor of Lansing), talking about the auto bailout. I don’t necessarily agree with him on this issue, or many others, but I think he does a decent job of making the case for the bailout. He also appeared on FoxBusiness and CNN recently to talk about it. I think the FoxBusiness clip with Neil Cavuto is online somewhere too.

    I’ve heard him quoted on Michigan Radio once or twice before, but seeing him get some national exposure is pretty cool.

    Not that I need to say this, but just in case: any views and opinions that I’ve expressed on this site do not reflect the views and opinions of my uncle.

  17. egpenet
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Detroit … the new VW Jetta “clean” diesel with stick shift gets 50mpg on the highway cruising at 60mph.

    No … nothing wrong with personal transportation. If I lived out in Bisbee, AZ, I’d want a Hummer, too.

    We do NOT need to crush Detroit. We need to look forward and incentivize the Big Three (or Two) to retool for mass transportation … while at the same time rewarding them with fewer obstacles for new technologies.

    Quid pro quo … dropping the lawsuits, selling EV1 technology? OK. Why sell EV1 … get it into production!

    I think all of these delays are just Democrat grandstanding until the new year.

    As the song goes: “Gonna be a bleak Christmas without you.”

    Where are the Threee Wise Guys when we NEED them?

  18. Kurt A>
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    The Mini Cooper D gets 65 MPG.

    Chrysler also has a complete line of US made diesel powered cars but they don’t pass emissions here in the US.

  19. Posted December 5, 2008 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Gulf Oil executives now suggest that gasoline prices at the pump may drop to $1.00 per gallon in 2009. I’m already starting to see those Ford Excursions and Hummers that were mothballed this summer out and about on the road again.

    It’s extremely difficult to convince folks to ride the bus (no matter how nice of a system we have here in Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor) when a gallon of gasoline costs less than a gallon of milk.

    For the sake of all those that appreciated the environmental and social benefits of $4.00 per gallon gasoline, hopefully Governor Granholm and President Obama will make your dreams a reality once again with those massive tax hikes they keep dreaming about….

  20. Robert
    Posted December 6, 2008 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Designated republican is a clairvoyant now. Apparently he can read people’s dreams.

  21. egpenet
    Posted December 6, 2008 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Dear Republican:

    The price of gasoline in Cuba is pretty low, but no one in Cuba can afford to buy a new car, let alone repair the old Chebbies they’ve rescued from the 50’s.

    With more than 1,000,00000 unemployed and growing, and with the car companies on the verge of collapse … good luck parading around town in your Hummer this summer. Don’t be surprised if a mob doesn’t tear you to pieces.

    Not telling how old you are … but you need to really and truly understand what deflation means. Too late to stop it at the moment, but hopefully you and yours will survive the coming twelve months. You may have to LIVE in the Hummer.

  22. Brackache
    Posted December 6, 2008 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I propose a new local currency: the Ypsi Dick. Backed by gold and silver, but not just any gold and silver — little gold and silver sculptures of different Ypsi Dick personalities, each weighing a certain amount of precious metal.

    For example:

    Negative Nancy — 1 oz silver
    Status Conscious Sam — 10 oz silver
    Big Ego Eliot — 100 oz silver

    Peter Pessimist — 1/4 oz gold
    Cynical Cyndie — 1/2 oz gold
    Self-sabotaging Sue — 1 oz gold.


    They should look cartoonish and easy to sculpt. Patent pending.

  23. Brackache
    Posted December 6, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Shave and a haircut: two bitches (each 1/8 oz silver).

  24. Oliva
    Posted December 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I think the Gov and Mr. President-elect are too busy even to let their dreams dwell on the $4/gallon gas this moment. It’s up to us to keep that dream alive. $4/gallon, $5/gallon, ahhhh . . . sweet dreams.

    Check out what the “Motoring” column in the UK Telegraph had to say in late November about the new Ford Fiesta: “The Fiesta is one of the new generation of super-minis that almost make the credit crunch a pleasure.” (The Fiesta’s been selling steadily in Europe for decades. Will be back in the USA next year.)

    Re. the auto industry, I bring this up a lot, but for years the execs asked to meet with Bush and didn’t get a meeting until 2006, and it lasted an hour, and the creepy oilman Cheney was present. Not excusing bad decision making re. SUVs and trucks, but the problems are so complex and way deeper than just the domestic auto industry but affecting it disastrously, and it’s difficult to hear nincompoops from right-to-work states like Shelby and Corker spout their simple-minded, misinforming opinions about the U.S. auto industry and what autoworkers, dealers, suppliers, retirees, and all of us sharing their economy are worth.

    Applejack–I saw your uncle on C-SPAN too. Was impressed and really enjoyed hearing him. He fielded those calls with confidence, intelligence, and flair. I really liked him and so appreciated what he was telling viewers. He (and you) oughta be proud.

  25. Oliva
    Posted December 7, 2008 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Trouble with commenting when you’re half-asleep and frozen . . .

    I meant to specify that the $4-5/gallon “dream” includes a new tax, scrupulously managed and used to build and maintain infrastructure, innovate, and enter (belatedly) the new century.

    YES we can.

  26. Posted December 7, 2008 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I sincerely hope for purely political purposes that both Governor Granholm and President Obama manage to get huge gas tax increases passed that raise our gasoline prices back up to that $3.50 – $4.50 per gallon range. It will make 2010 and 2012 so much easier for the rest of us.

    I agree with Oliva’s sentiment about the Bush Administration and the auto industry. They have been dangerously clueless when it comes to American manufacturing, especially automobiles. They left the political floor entirely to the Democrats on this issue, and look at where they took us….

  27. Brackache
    Posted December 7, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    A huge gas tax is not a zero sum game, wherein it will just automatically make all this great environmental stuff happen and not cause a bunch of side problems, such as increased cost of everything and poor people getting desperately porked in the ass financially. I can’t believe I even have to waste time typing to point that out. Blowback: unintended bad consequences of fucking with shit. Good intentions don’t make up for it or hide you from culpability.

    I really can’t believe it’s not obvious to everyone what a bad idea that is, especially during a recession. I don’t know how I can persuade people of what should be common sense.

    Think of all the things that would affect! How many different sectors would have to raise prices to cover gas costs, and how many other prices would have to rise to cover those services in a ripple effect! How many more companies would go belly up right now, how many more people would lose their jobs, how many more people would be unable to afford sevices!


  28. Brackache
    Posted December 7, 2008 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    If you believe artificially raising gas prices to $4-5 /gal is a good idea, I am baby-shaking you vigorously right now.


  29. Marty
    Posted December 15, 2008 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Bush has told the Big 3 that they’ll get the funding the need to stay afloat, but there’s no deal yet.

  30. Brackache
    Posted December 16, 2008 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    …because overriding the system of checks and balances is okay if redistributing someone else’s money to people who haven’t really earned it is involved.

    I think I just summed up the last century or so of U.S. governing philosophy quite nicely.

    Ready for deserved hard times yet?

  31. kjc
    Posted December 16, 2008 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Brackache, I know what you think is stupid and shouldn’t happen. What do you think should happen? I’m sincerely interested.

  32. Brackache
    Posted December 16, 2008 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    The government shouldn’t intervene at all; let them fail, go into bankruptcy, get bought out, whatever is going to happen. That’s business for ya. Sometimes the company fails. Freedom includes the freedom to fail.

    Both options (to bailout or not to bailout) are going to hurt, but I believe the noninterventionist option will hurt less: it’ll lead to a quicker resolution and stronger industry in the future for everybody. The bailouts will devalue the dollar eventually, drag out the economic downturn, and lead to more usurpation of unconstitutional authority by the Federal government (a car czar, for instance) and that hurts everyone for much longer.

    As we’ve hopefully learned from the Bush administration, giving any branch of the Federal government more power, even if they say the world will end if you don’t, WILL lead to tyranny.

    So, to sum up: nothing. The short-term pain is worth it.

  33. Brackache
    Posted December 16, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    As far as a gas tax and global warming and all that, social pressure and trendiness (no value judgement implied) seem to be making quite a bit of headway without having to force people to do stuff by law or penalizing via tax. Remember, everyone here is just as much a part of the free market as anyone else. You are a market force, and you want green. Businesses are picking up on that and starting to go more green. Why involve legislators and the guys with guns they use to make people do stuff?

  34. Robert
    Posted December 16, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with Brackache. I don’t think it’s necessary anymore to do anything more than provide incentives to alternative energy developers. There isn’t the resistance there was years ago.

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