Thursday night a filibuster by Senate Republicans against the bailout bill for the Big Three automakers and their unions effectively killed the bill.
Thank you to the thirty five Senators who voted no because they know there is a better way to help the auto industry while avoiding throwing billions more down a rat hole.
I'm especially proud of the role South Carolina's conservative Senator Jim DeMint (R) played in the process. In an interview with National Review DeMint described the problem at General Motors this way:
We don’t want any of these auto companies to fail. And they won’t fail unless they completely ignore their responsibilities and wait for the government to bail them out instead of doing what they need to do — what they should have done a while back. GM had its best sales year ever in 2007. It sold over 9 million cars around the world — the same number as Toyota. But Toyota made $20 billion, and GM lost $40 billion. Their viability is not going to change if the cost structure is such that they cannot succeed. Until they restructure, we’d just be throwing good money after bad to prop them up for a few months.What good would it have done to simply hand the big three billions more with nothing in return from their management and unions except a promise that they would try harder to address the fundamental problems which keep the companies from making a profit?
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) has also been a key player in the negotiations and put his finger on the problem: the unions are refusing to voluntarily agree to concessions that will make the restructuring of auto companies feasible. Last night he said: "We were about three words away from a deal," referring to any date in 2009 on which the UAW would accept wage cuts. In return, Corker is being vilified by Tennessee union bosses who will fight tooth and nail to retain their privileges even if it destroys the companies they work for.
It may be true that the big three automakers are "too big to fail." Too many people depend on the jobs at the Big Three and their suppliers and many are already being hit with layoffs. But to simply throw more money at the problem without solving it would force those who work at profitable businesses to pay even more in taxes to cover the mistakes of the greedy union bosses at these failing firms who don't seem to care what impact their intransigence and greed has on the rest of us.
Senator Corker has a plan which will permit the Big Three to restructure. He covered key points of that plan in his speech on the Senate Floor last night.
The question is: will Democrats ever agree to any plan which forces the United Auto Workers union to compromise and accept the contract changes necessary to save the Big Three?