As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There Now, Be A Good Little Unitary Executive

The auto rescue is dead. Notice how the AP blamed it entirely on the UAW in the lede, and not the neo-Hooverist Republicans who want to blame workers for the sins of executives, and boost the heavily-subsidized foreign auto companies making cars in their home states.

A $14 billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate Thursday night after the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts.

The collapse came after bipartisan talks on the auto rescue broke down over GOP demands that the United Auto Workers union agree to steep wage cuts by 2009 to bring their pay into line with Japanese carmakers.

Here's Harry Reid's statement:

"Given the unhappy choice between a bridge loan and bankruptcy, Democrats have always believed that we must give the Big Three and the millions of Americans they employ every possible chance to succeed.

"By rejecting every good-faith bipartisan compromise – including those from the White House and Senator Bob Corker – it is now abundantly clear that Republicans have no interest in keeping the Big Three from collapsing.

"Because Republicans failed to act, three million Americans are more likely than ever to lose their jobs and our economy is at risk of suffering even greater damage. Our hearts go out to those families who will now have to deal with this burden as the holidays near.

"Republicans may think that rejecting this legislation sent a message to the auto industry. Instead, they sent a message to every single American that they are more interested in settling scores than solving problems."

They took a cloture vote tonight, which failed 52-35. You'll notice that bipartisan maverick John McCain voted no. The 52 votes don't include Biden, Kerry (in Europe, I believe), Kennedy and Wyden (?). Add in those 4 plus Reid (who voted no for procedural reasons) and you're 3 votes away. Lame ducks Gordon Smith, John Sununu and Series of Toobz Stevens sat this out by not voting. Merkley, Shaheen and Begich would be likely to vote Yes, and add in Biden and Obama's successors (whenever that is) and you have the votes to pass this come Jan. 6 when the new Congress is sworn in.

But we probably don't have that kind of time. And so the only hope for GM and maybe Chrysler is for the Treasury Department to use some TARP money for the loans.

The proposal to loan $14 billion to Detroit's struggling automakers collapsed late Thursday night but the Big Three may get some money anyway.

Bush officials warned wavering GOP senators that if they didn't support the legislation, the White House will likely be forced to tap the Wall Street bailout to lend them money, two Republican congressional officials told CNN earlier.

This is a noteworthy change since the White House and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have previously refused to use bank bailout funds to help General Motors (GM, Fortune 500), Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) and Chrysler LLC.

The sources asked not to be named because of the sensitivities of private conversations.

This probably plays well to Bush's inner decider. He gets to walk out and scold the Congressmen who didn't do his bidding and put it into law by executive fiat. And as much as I don't want to imbue the President with MORE executive power, at this point he already has it (in fact, Bernanke could hand out this money tomorrow), and faced with 3 million unemployed middle-class workers, I can handle my discomfort with the obliteration of checks and balances for just a few days longer. So I join the Democratic leadership in asking the Decider to go ahead and decide.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank today sent a letter to President George W. Bush to again urge him to use the authority provided under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) of 2008 to provide limited, temporary assistance to the automobile industry during this financial crisis. The letter notes that the failure of the Big 3 would have a major direct and negative impact on the financial sector, not just on the economy as a whole. The Treasury Department has stated that funding from the EESA should only be used to protect the U.S. financial sector.

In the letter, they further state: “Your decision to utilize the TARP funds, or to work with the Federal Reserve to make available assistance through its existing lending programs, or both, are essential to the Congress’ ability to address this critical economic situation in a timely manner, and would also eliminate the uncertainties inherent in the legislative process.”

If he's going to do this, he ought to do it EARLY in the day. Like before 9:30am. Between the imminent collapse of the domestic auto industry and this $50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme the SEC just uncovered, Wall Street is just going to be awful tomorrow.

In a crisis, we're all liberals. Make us proud, unitary executive.

...oh boy...

General Motors Corp. has hired bankruptcy counsel and restructuring advisers to prepare for a filing if Congress does not authorize $14 billion in emergency federal loans.

"The Board is meeting frequently and is monitoring the situation closely and is considering all options, as is management," GM spokesman Steve Harris told The Detroit News tonight. "And they have engaged appropriate advisors for all contingencies."

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