The whole mass has been a fascinating, and depressing political show. I listened to a few hours of the hearings over the last few days, and pompous arrogance of some of the members of Congress was infuriating. Even the sympathetic members, such as Chris Dodd (D-CT) offered ridiculous and unhelpful advice, such as suggesting with a straight face that maybe the Detroit 3 could retool their plants to build mass transit products such as busses and rail cars. "The truck and SUV plants you are closing... these have pretty long wheel bases, don't they?" said Dodd, who apparently acquired a manufacturing engineering degree somewhere, secretly.
Then came the spectacle of Maxine Waters (D-CA) complaining that dealers, specifically small dealers, specifically, minority dealers, were being hurt by all the cuts, and inquiring what the Detroit 3 were planning to do to protect the dealers. This at a time when many commentators, and many other members of Congress correctly realize that having too many dealers their hurts profitability, and reduces the efficiency of the service and distribution divisions.
But the most delicious part of the political battle, for me, was the brawl between Bush and the Democrats on where to take the loan money from. Bush said from the beginning that the financial bailout money ($350 Billion now, $350 Billion later, maybe) was for protecting the financial system, and that Congress should rewrite the Advanced Technology Manufacturer Vehicle Assistance Program (aka "section 136") law to allow that money to be used for bridge loans. The Democrats wanted Bush to use money from the financial bailout money, and to save the ATVM loan program for fuel economy retooling.
Bush stuck to his guns (he is very good at it) and forced the Democrats to make a painful choice: do nothing, and throw the UAW under the bus, or cave, and anger the Greenies. From the Detroit Free Press:
A breakthrough on the long-stalled rescue came when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yielded to President George W. Bush on a key point: allowing the aid to be drawn from a fund set aside for the production of environmentally friendlier cars.And, at the 11th hour, the Democrats wisely decided it was the Greens who should be thrown under the bus.
May it always be so.