Don't let them fool you. Republicans sound like they're concerned about wasting money bailing out the US car industry. But this is not about giving money to the car companies, and a concern about getting it back. This is about killing the last major bastion of American manufacturing, and breaking the unions.
If you doubt that, take special note of WHO is speaking in the following article from the New York Times:
Mr. Corker said he was also concerned that G.M., which was negotiating with bondholders to cut much of its debt to them, would continue to ask for more money.
“They’re coming back for debt that will load down their balance sheets,” he said in an interview. “How much better off is the capital structure of G.M. when another $30 billion of public lending supplants that private debt?”
Bob Corker. Tennessee.
Ring any bells, folks?
Come on, you're not thinking. No, it's not because he won his seat in part by airing the infamously racist "Harold, call me!" ads against black Democrat Harold Ford, Jr.
It's because of his state.
See, Tennessee is the only state in the country that has a union American auto plant, and several non-union Japanese and German auto plants. In Spring Hill, they have a unionized GM factory that used to build Saturns, and now makes SUVs. Nissan has a couple non-union auto plants near their US headquarters in Nashville. Near Chattanooga, they're building a huge Volkswagen plant; the first one in the US since that company close a plant in Pennsylvania when Reagan was president. The state also features a number of non-union parts manufacturers, who supply parts to most automakers.
Now, a cookie for anyone who can guess why Bob Corker, a sleazeball Republican Senator from a State with TWO nonunion auto plants, numerous nonunion auto parts suppliers and ONE union auto plant would be against bailing out General Motors.
Here's a hint for you. What might happen to auto plant wages in Tennessee, should the one union plant close, do you think? Yeah, you got it. Corker imagines Tennessee the Michigan of the 21st Century, and he's not above kicking the UAW's ass to do it. If he can get rid of GM's one union plant, he can make a case to get more auto plants in the state, by selling low wages.
It's really funny, you know; Corker doesn't seem to have a problem with foreign car makers getting lots of government money, even when they don't need it. According to the World's Most Popular Investment Blog (that's their name, not my editorial opinion, and I make no representations as to their actual popularity, of course…), the Nissan plant in Smyrna received $233 million, back in 1980; the Nissan plant in Dechard received $200 million in 1995; and the Volkwagen plant has thus far received $577 million, as of last year. That's $1 billion, without adjusting for inflation, just in Tennessee, and just for the "privilege" of opening a plant. When all subsidies are combined, we've given $3.6 billion to foreign car companies, just to open plants here. And that's without adjusting for inflation.
And once more, those are subsidies. They're not going to pay that money back. What GM is asking for are loans. And given the amount of money GM has earned for the American economy over the years, it
just seems silly to not invest in them one more time, and save some union jobs.
But then, this isn't about GM; it's about unions, and Republicans are hell-bent on busting the few unions that are left. This isn't about saving the country money. If Republicans gave a shit about that, they wouldn't have spent 20 times that amount in Iraq over the last six years. No; Corker is beholden to his foreign car company masters, and wants to make them happy. And the Republican Party would like nothing better than to kill all unions; they've made that crystal clear over the years.
By the way, do you know what makes this effort by Corker to kill the UAW in Tennessee especially shameful?
Of course, today's Republican leadership isn't known for its ability to feel ashamed of anything.
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