Archive for the ‘automakers’ Category

Does the bailout spree signal the end of democracy?

December 22, 2008

“A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship….

“Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

These words – the author is unknown – are particularly sobering today. In the past few months, Uncle Sam has bailed out Wall Street, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, home-owners, banks, and US automakers, while the incoming administration promises a massive infrastructure investment.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

Is it any surprise that cities, counties, and states are jostling for space at the federal trough? Who’s next? Big Media? Big Sports? Agribusiness?

By Randy Salzman
Christian Science Monitor

With the bailout “mother of all precedents,” it’s become difficult for Washington politicians to say “no” to any special interest that’s too massive, too economically important, or too well connected to fail.

Nor can politicians forget the poor. Or the crucial swing voters in the “struggling middle class.” And they can’t ignore seniors – AARP members are very vocal.

Virtually every group today is trying to meet with the Obama transition team to convey the urgency of its “crucial” spending requests. My local paper recently informed me that our area university is preparing its wish list for infrastructure dollars. Even the National Council for the Social Studies and the American Sportfishing Association have sent pitches to President-elect Obama.

Have we gone from “rugged individualism” to the complacency or even dependency of the national trajectory quoted above?

At the time of America’s founding, the Federalist Papers discussed the dangers of democratic politicians being forced to count on the votes and support of citizens or organizations too self-involved or uneducated to realize that short-term individual or group gain often precludes long-term prosperity.

And Thomas Jefferson sought to deal with politicians’ catering to their constituents’ convenience by founding the University of Virginia (UVA). He wanted an informed, intelligent, and thoughtful population in hopes of helping democracy survive. Today, sadly, UVA is the area university I read about in the paper seeking funds for its infrastructure wish list.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20081222/cm_csm/ysalzman

Advertisements

Auto Bailout: Not Monday: White House Mulls Option

December 15, 2008

The White House tossed out no lifeline for the teetering auto industry Sunday, although  President Bush reiterated that he was considering using money from the $700 billion financial bailout fund to provide loans to the carmakers.

“An abrupt bankruptcy for autos could be devastating for the economy,” Mr. Bush told reporters Monday aboard Air Force One during an unannounced trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’re now in the process of working with the stakeholders on a way forward. We’re not quite ready to announce that yet.”

In a photo provided by the Ford Motor Co., the final Ford Expedition ...
In a photo provided by the Ford Motor Co., the final Ford Expedition is driven off the assembly line as production ends at Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008. The move signals the beginning of the transformation of the auto plant to be retooled as a car plant to begin producing small, fuel-efficient vehicles in 2010. (AP Photo/Ford Motor Co., Sam VarnHagen)

Mr. Bush wouldn’t give a precise timetable but said, “This will not be a long process because of the economic fragility of the autos.”

White House officials said they did not expect to make an announcement Monday. The administration is considering ways to provide emergency aid to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which have said they could run out of cash within weeks without federal aid.

Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, who blocked legislation that would have provided $14 billion in loans to the automakers, said he had spoken with the White House early Sunday. “I don’t think they yet know what they’re going to do,” he said. Ron Gettelfinger, the president of the United Auto Workers, said the union had not held discussions with the White House.

CBS VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS Sen. Bob Corker spoke with White House officials and said, "I don't think they yet know what they're going to do."

Sen. Bob Corker

Associated Press

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec/
15/bush-takes-no-action-to-salvage-auto-industry/

Auto Bailout: White House Has President’s Hand in the Door

December 14, 2008

As if President George W. Bush had his hand stuck after slamming it in a car door, the assembly line is moving and the White House, Treasury and Fed are trying to figure out what to do.

Bush supported and endorsed the Congressional plan, brought down by Senators of his own party last week.

Advocates now want the money to bailout the auto makers to come  from the Troubled Asset  Relief   Program (TARP).  But half the TARP money is gone and only about $15 Billion is available for carmakers.  Add to that the fact that Congress approved the TARP for purposes other than a “bailout” for auto makers.

The White House could get the money from the Federal Reserve.  But this is problematic too:  before the Congressional bailout failed, Fed Charman Ben Bernanke alread said the automakers had insufficient collateral (or ample “unencumbered assets”)  to secure a $15 Billion loan from the Fed.

In a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Bernanke wrote that any decision about whether to provide financial aid to Detroit is best left to Congress.

A key consideration in letting an auto company draw emergency cash loans from the Fed is whether the company has sufficient collateral or other security to ensure repayment of the loan. “It is unclear whether the auto manufacturers have unencumbered assets of sufficient amount and quality to meet this requirement,” Bernanke wrote.

US Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke pauses during ... 
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

So, President Bush is between a rock and a hard place.

Finally, the sticking point with Republican Senators remains unresolved.  They want to know the plans of the automakers and their unions to get the workers’ pay and benefit packages more in line with the pay of their competitors like Toyota.

Bush Administration people are going over the automakers’ books and some announcemnt on a bailout could come ….on Tuesday….

File photo shows assembly line workers on a Toyota Motor's ... 
File photo shows assembly line workers on a Toyota Motor’s production line at the company’s Tsutsumi factory in Aichi prefecture, Japan. Commercial rating agency Fitch Ratings have downgraded the auto giant by two notches, warning that in the current slump even the strongest carmaker no longer deserved its top rating.(AFP/File/Toshifumi Kitamura)

Senate Fails To Bailout Automakers But Bush May Fund Shortfall

December 12, 2008

The Bush administration would consider using money from a fund intended to rescue U.S. financial markets to prevent the collapse of the nation’s auto companies, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Bloomberg

“Under normal economic conditions we would prefer that markets determine the ultimate fate of private firms,” Perino told reporters aboard Air Force One. “However give the current weakened state of the U.S. economy we will consider other options if necessary, including use of the TARP program to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers.”

General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC have said they need a total of $14 billion in loans to keep operating. An aid package for the automakers failed in the Senate last night.

Bush was pressed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to tap funds from the Treasury’s $700 billion bank-rescue fund.

The Bush administration had warned of a million lost jobs if the industry imploded. The Senate vote was a repudiation of Bush, who personally lobbied for the bill. Only 10 Republicans in the Senate voted to move forward on the auto-rescue plan.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20081212/pl_
bloomberg/avqpiejeowq

$14B auto bailout dies in Senate

December 12, 2008

A bailout-weary Congress killed a $14 billion package to aid struggling U.S. automakers Thursday night after a partisan dispute over union wage cuts derailed a last-ditch effort to revive the emergency aid before year’s end.

Republicans, breaking sharply with President George W. Bush as his term draws to a close, refused to back federal aid for Detroit’s beleaguered Big Three without a guarantee that the United Auto Workers would agree by the end of next year to wage cuts to bring their pay into line with Japanese carmakers. The UAW refused to do so before its current contract with the automakers expires in 2011.

The breakdown left the fate of the auto industry — and the 3 million jobs it touches — in limbo at a time of growing economic turmoil. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC have said they could be weeks from collapse. Ford Motor Co. says it does not need federal help now, but its survival is far from certain.

Democratic leaders called on Bush to immediately tap the $700 billion Wall Street bailout fund for emergency aid to the auto industry.

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writer

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee chairman Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) speaks on the phone after a vote on Capitol Hill on Thursday night.

Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut after the vote on Thursday night. Mr. Dodd was among the negoti ators working on the bill.Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the bill’s collapse “a loss for the country,” adding: “I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow. It’s not going to be a pleasant sight.”

GM said in a statement it was “deeply disappointed” that the bipartisan agreement faltered. “We will assess all of our options to continue our restructuring and to obtain the means to weather the current economic crisis,” the company said. Chrysler, too, said it “will continue to pursue a workable solution to help ensure the future viability of the company.”

The White House said it was evaluating its options in light of the breakdown on Capitol Hill.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081212/ap_on_go_co/co
ngress_autos;_ylt=AtfAzt2dXAA4LvS8E6_k3g.s0NUE

******************

GM, Chrysler Could Collapse

The Senate on Thursday night abandoned efforts to fashion a government rescue of the American automobile industry, as Senate Republicans refused to support a bill endorsed by the White House and Congressional Democrats.
.

The failure to reach agreement on Capitol Hill raised a specter of financial collapse for General Motors and Chrysler, which say they may not be able to survive through this month.

After Senate Republicans balked at supporting a $14 billion auto rescue plan approved by the House on Wednesday, negotiators worked late into Thursday evening to broker a deal, but deadlocked over Republican demands for steep cuts in pay and benefits by the United Automobile Workers union in 2009.

Read the rest from the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/busin
ess/12auto.html?_r=1&hp