A Democratic Congress, unwilling or unable to approve a $25 billion bailout for Detroit’s Big Three, appears ready to punt the automakers’ fate to a lame-duck Republican president.
Not our responsibility, countered the White House.
“If Congress leaves for a two-month vacation without having addressed this important issue … then the Congress will bear responsibility for anything that happens in the next couple of months during their long vacation,” said Dana Perino, the White House press secretary.
She said there was “no appetite” in the administration for using the financial industry bailout money to help auto companies.
GOP Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri and George V. Voinovich of Ohio were at work on that measure Wednesday, toiling to placate skeptical Democrats by including a guarantee that the fuel-efficiency loan fund would ultimately be replenished.
“It is the only proposal now being considered that has a chance of actually becoming law,” said Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
But there was little sign that Democratic leaders would go along. They are vehemently opposed to letting the car companies tap that money — set aside to help switch to vehicles that burn less gasoline — for short-term cash-flow needs.
The “Green Agenda” cash may not actually have been targeted for the auto companies anyway – it maybe directed to “alternative energy research firms” that Democratic Speaker of the House Pelosi and Democratic Represenative Waxman favor. Pelosi and Waxman are trying to unseat Democratic Representative John Dingell, (Dem, Detroit) from his Chairmanship Seat. Dingell has served longer than any other member of Congress. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-energy7-2008nov07,0,7068890.story?track=rss
Many lawmakers in both parties, however, are now openly discussing whether bankruptcy might be a better option for auto firms they regard as lumbering industrial dinosaurs that have done too little to adjust their products and work forces for the 21st century.
One point that several members of Congress hit on was the way the CEOs got to Washington.
Rep. Gary Ackerman, Democrat from New York, noted the irony of the CEOs flying on private jets and “getting off with tin cups in their hands.” “Couldn’t you have downgraded to first class or something, or jet-pooled … to get here?” he asked. The executives on Wednesday’s panel — GM CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli — said they flew on private jets.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, also expressed skepticism about helping the industry, “What I have not heard is a plan that convinces me that with the $25 billion, that you will achieve sustainability,” said Hensarling.
The Generals Motors CEO claimed his compoany was losing $5 Billion a month.