Monday, August 25, 2008

Auto Execs: Can You Spare Some $50 Billion Dollars?

Corporate America hates to see government assistance go to the poor. They had Reagan call them "Welfare Queens" and George W even made the poor poorer. Yet when the titans of industry make bone-headed mistakes, they expect us to bail them out. Case in point here at the end of the 110th Congress is the auto industry and their plea for $50 billion in low-interest loans.

From RawStory:

WASHINGTON -- Automakers plan to urge Congress to support funding up to $50 billion in low-interest loans over three years to help them modernize their assembly plants and develop next-generation fuel-efficient vehicles.

Industry officials said the loans, twice the amount authorized in last year's energy bill, will be a top priority when Congress returns next month because of the declining fortunes of Detroit's automakers and tightening credit markets.

"The amount of concern and urgency from the Detroit companies has increased in the last month and significantly ratcheted up what they're communicating what their funding needs are," said Alan Reuther, legislative director for the United Auto Workers union.

The sad thing is that this could have all been avoided if Detroit employed people that recognized the future and the demand to get off of oil, not to consume as much as possible. Sticking with SUVs and not giving a damn about clean energy is wrecking them in the international marketplace. Now because of that, they are coming to the taxpayer for some TLC.

The big issue here is that a representative from the UAW on their side because the money will keep union workers in their jobs...and rightly so. What I'm getting at here is that because of bad planning, our auto industry has its hat in hand but we shouldn't just be an enabling parent and say "just be careful this time Jimmy." This loan should have strings attached and simple assurances for retooling our factories isn't enough. For this money, the unions should be getting a better deal and standards for clean energy must be raised to a maximum. They've already gotten $25 billion in loans, the next $50 billion must have restrictions and a clear direction on how that money will be used not just to keep business as usual in the auto industry, but to move it into the 21st century.