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Barack Splits the GOP

By John Martin - Posted on 30 March 2009

I'm not sure how many people also saw this, but there was a very telling silence in the days after the AIG bonus outrage among typically angry conservatives.  It was like everyone was looking at each other, reading up on the situation, and trying to figure out what the proper conservative response should be.  At the end of the day, the only thing the hard-rights could agree on was that Chris Dodd was a bad man. 

This time around, the GOP leadership began yakking out of control almost immediately.  As the current lead story on Politico says, "Detroit plan has GOP all over the map." 

I get it.  Obama shows that he will not just throw taxpayer money at failed companies who refuse to change-- that's being responsible with our money.  He's also willing to let Chrysler die if it can't survive-- that's being a smart capitalist.  He also is proposing tax credits to help people buy American cars-- every Republican is supposed to like tax credits, right?

Here's some of their flat-footed response:

Sen. John McCain, the Republicans’ 2008 presidential candidate, accused Obama Monday of “unprecedented window dressing” and said his plan didn’t go far enough. But Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter, chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, complained that Obama was being tougher on Detroit than he’s been on Wall Street.

California Rep. Darrell Issa praised Obama for having “struck the right chord.” But Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander said Obama’s plan was “not the right direction.”

Ohio Sen. George Voinovich, co-chairman of the Senate Auto Caucus, said he was happy that the White House was “insisting that American auto companies receiving taxpayer dollars can stand on their own two feet eventually.” But Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker called Obama’s plan “a major power grab by the White House” that would leave the federal government with almost complete control over General Motors. 

With Obama presenting a mixed bag of solutions to a multi-pronged crisis, the GOP just can't figure out how, where, or whether to attack.  The best they can do is to cry for Rick Wagoner, who is probably relieved to not have to deal with this mess.

And anyway, who cares about Rick Wagoner?  He was obviously very bad at what he did, and quite frankly, I'm fine with a President "firing" an executive whose company bleeds billions in public cash.  Wagoner's lucky he lasted this long. 


In all fairness to McCotter, I wish Obama were giving the same kind of "tough love" to the financial sector/banking industry as he is to the auto industry.  It doesn't make sense to say to one of them: "Okay I'll give you temporary aid but you have to restructure and prove you're worth additional funding," and then turn around and say to the banks/financial sector: "Okay here's a whole bunch of money.  Here you go.  Spend wisely now," and assume they will!  The standard of forcing the company/industry asking for help to prove it will restructure itself and is worth additional federal funds should be applied to ALL!  Other than that, I think Obama's handling things well but I wish the G.O.P. would stop behaving like sleep deprived infants!
One question: Is part of Obama's restructuring plan for the auto industry, forcing the auto companies to produce better car models than the stuff they're making now?  Because that should definitely be part of the "restructuring!" 

From what I hear, yes.

#1-- consumers will be encourged to purchase more fuel-efficient cars.

#2-- One option with both GM and Chrysler would be to split up each company, allowing only the most profitable models to stay in place.

#3-- I think I caught Fiat's president say that his focus would be on getting Chrysler to produce more fuel efficient cars.  Not sure if "fuel-efficient" is always the same as "better," but things obviously have been headed in that direction.

GM had already deep-sixed its Oldsmobile line... and they are going to do the same to Pontiac. They will be left withCadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC brands. Excess inventory on these models is currently a big problem, and this inventory has to be sold BEFORE a long-term solution (including concessions from the UAW) can be reached to make this company viable again. Controlled bankruptcy, which would likely void the labor contracts anyway, followed by emergence with an emphasis on fuel-effecient, hybrid, and/or electric models.

Same, basically. goes for Chrysler.

In all of this, Ford has been almost deafeningly silent. But its turn is coming too!


I think Ford will come out of this okay in the end.  Both the Ford Fusion and the Focus are getting decent reviews for performance, and indicate that maybe Ford decided to look at the service history of its products, and learn something from it.


I wonder what will happen with these companies credit anf financing divisions? I would guess that any reorganization would have to take these divisions into account also.

By the way, UAW includes not only "auto" workers, but lots of workers in the aerospace program.


<In all of this, Ford has been almost deafeningly silent. But its turn is coming too!>

Ford hasn't taken any bailout money, correct?   Are they managing to pull out of this on their own, without taxpayer help?  What do you mean when you say their turn is coming too?

Ford has been doing better than GM or Chrysler, and they have not used any bailout money. But as the parts suppliers dry up, Ford is going to have to find parts suppliers elsewhere (maybe foreign sources) which will make their vehicles more expensive.

Ford also posted a quarterly loss, and even though their cash reserves are in a lot better shape than GM or Chrysler, their red ink will likely not end anytime soon.


Thanks, wc.  I hadn't thought of the parts angle.  I knew they posted a loss, but wondered if they would be able to come out of it. 

Excess inventory on these models is currently a big problem, and this inventory has to be sold BEFORE a long-term solution (including concessions from the UAW) can be reached to make this company viable again.

I'm sure they will pull out all the bells and whistles to sell these dirt cheap but do we want these cars out there since they may not be the best in terms of fuel efficiency? Or is the important thing to get rid of these and start fresh, hoping the fuel efficient trend begins in a few years?

This is where the purchase of huge amounts of government vehicles in the stimulus would have been a big help.  To jump start the fuel efficient models sales would have been a win/win situation. 
Thanks for explaining that, Suzi. Makes sense!

Think about it....It helps the auto industry, cuts down on fuel bills for the government, and also takes a step to lessen dependency on foreign oil.  Win/win/win!!

Was that taken out of the package, or did it make it through?  For some reason, I have in my mind that it was removed, but I could well be wrong!

You have a directionless minority party hellbent on finding a way to undercut those who won an election with no direction.   That's all.

I'm also starting to think that the fundamentals of restoring the financial system should start with the ABC'S - AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup.  Let 'em tank they're full of assholes.

Great blog!

I was also surprised by the GOP responses being "all over the map." As a group, perhaps they should have directed a clear message of unity (preferably showing at least some support for the president) before releasing all those opposing statements. I think the problem is they really don't know where they stand.

When I read this post, it hit me what a multi-pronged approach this administration is taking. I think that "confuses" the Republicans (you mean there is not just one solution/aspect to his plan? Stop all that multi-tasking, Pres. Obama!) and they aren't sure where to turn. This is a tricky situation and I like how Pres. Obama is sending a liason out in the field to address worker needs, not just ignoring them. But it will be a tightrope as workers (not just a big CEO) face the reality of job loss.

As for the idea that Pres. Obama should fire some bank CEO's to make things "even" may feel good but I'm not sure if it's one of those temporary satisfaction things (like when you'd fight with your brother and demand that you both get the same punishment to make it fair-you both end up punished, afterall.) I think perhaps the Wall Street related decisions may be looked at differently simply because there is more of a ripple effect (housing market and lots more jobs, etc.) BTW-I thought some of the Wall Street higher ups were fired or stepped down (or am I mixed up?)

We can't just let the banks "tank!"  The smarter thing to do, which Obama is doing, is find a way to clean up their toxic assets on their balance sheets.  If the banks go under, aside from unemployment shooting up (hey they are the world's largest banks) peoples' 401ks and pensions and everything ordinary people had invested in them will be totally shot to hell and you'll see the market and economy crash like never before!  Better we work with them to clean up their balance sheets as Obama is doing and enact some laws that prevent them from acting like irresponsible nuts again without some repercussions!
It's okay.  I don't think anybody really listens to my rants anyway.
That's okay Lep.  I'm sorry if I got a little heated myself =).  I'm just a very passionate, engaged voter/citizen.  No hard feelings, friend =).  
no problem here, really.  I have been thinking there are still plenty of banks out there that aren't on the edge.

I think if you have two car company's that it is easier to look at their upside/downside an sucess and failure and planning and pick out a direct person or person not doing their jobs makeing it profitable. Compared to several BANKS that deal with national/international dealings/stocks/bonds/toxic axcess and etc. and try to find just one or two people at the top that are to blame for the failure. So it is unreasonable to think we can go after Wall St. in a simple fashion, as we can Auto Comp. Certainly the American people and GOP can identify and compare the difference's/and oppertunity for success in this?

Hi John,

I think the Auto issue is difficult for some of the remaining republicans from the industrial states.

 Now jupitor has a good point. Why not give the same treatment for Wall street?

 follow the money ;)

 Hi Suzi!! waves!

Hey Warsame!! ;-)

I think the biggest difference is that the Auto Industry doesn't carry the economy of the nation on it's back, as does Wall Street.

Hey Warsame,

I know it's a tough issue.  I'm fine with Republicans in different regions having views that are in-line with what their constituencies want and believe.

Now if only we could get national Republicans to accept pro-choice and pro-gay rights candidates in the Northeast.


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