Hey, You Senators: Thanks for Nothing
A Few Parting Words for the Senators Who Squashed the Auto Rescue
December 13, 2008
By MITCH ALBOM
DETROIT FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
Do you want to watch us drown? Is that it? Do want to see the last gurgle of economic air spit from our lips? If so, senators, know this: We’re taking a piece of you with us. America isn’t America without an auto industry. You can argue whether $14 billion would have saved it, but your actions surely could have killed it.
We have grease on our hands.
You have blood.
Kill the car, kill the country. History will show that when America was on its knees, you lawmakers wanted to cut off its feet. How does this happen in America?
Suddenly, the worker is the problem? Suddenly, unless union members, overnight, drastically slash their wages with a hard deadline, you pull the plug on an industry?
Suddenly, Detroit is the symbol of economic dysfunction? Are you kidding? Have you looked in the mirror lately, Washington?
In a world where banks hemorrhaged trillions in a high-priced gamble called credit derivative swaps that you failed to regulate, how on earth do we need to be punished? In a bailout era where you shoveled billions, with no demands, to banks and financial firms — who created the problem in the first place — why do need to be schooled on how to run a business?
Who is more dysfunctional in business than you? Who blows more money? Who fashions and molds its work based on favors and pork and traded compromises?
At least in the auto industry, if folks don’t like what you make, they don’t have to buy it. In government, even your worst mistakes, we have to live with.
And now Detroit should die with this?
In bed with the foreign automakers
Kill the car, kill the country. Sen. Richard Shelby, Sen. Bob Corker, your names will not be forgotten. It’s amazing how you pretend to speak for America when you are only watching out for your political party, which would love to cripple unions, and your states, which house foreign auto plants.
Corker, you’ve got Nissan there and Volkswagen coming. Shelby, you’ve got Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota. Oh, don’t kid yourself. They didn’t come because you earned their business, a subject on which you enjoy lecturing the Detroit Big Three. No, they came because you threw billions in state tax breaks to lure them.
And now — this is rich — you want those foreign companies, which you lured, and which get help from their governments, to dictate to American workers how much they should be paid? Tell you what. You’re so fond of the foreign model, why don’t you do what Japanese ministers do when they screw up the country’s finances?
They cut their salaries.
Or they resign in shame.
When was the last time a U.S. senator resigned over the failure of his policies?
Yet you want to fire Rick Wagoner?
Who are you people?
More money for the lords of Wall Street
There ought to be a law — against the selfishness and hypocrisy our government has demonstrated. The speed with which wheelbarrows of money were dumped at the feet of Wall Street versus the slow noose hung on the auto companies is reprehensible. Some of those same banks we bailed out are now saying they won’t extend credit to auto dealers. Wasn’t that why we gave them the money? To loosen credit?
Where’s your tight grip on those funds, senators? Or do you just enjoy having your hands around blue-collared throats?
No matter what the president does, history will not forget this: At our nation’s most uncertain hour, you stood ready to plunge tens of thousands of families into oblivion. Push them onto public payrolls, unemployment, no health insurance. And you were willing to put our nation’s security at risk — by squashing the American manufacturing we most rely on in times of war.
And why? So you could stand on some phony principle? Crush a union? Play to your base? How is our nation better off today now that you kept $14 billion in the treasury? Are you going to balance the budget with that?
Don’t make us laugh.
Kill the car, kill the country. You tried to slam a stake into the chest of this business, and you don’t even realize how close to the nation’s heart you’re coming. Shame on your pettiness. Shame on your hypocrisy. This is how we behave two weeks before Christmas? Honestly. What has become of this country?
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Martin County Democratic Executive Committee has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Martin County Democratic Executive Committee endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)