Friday, December 05, 2008

Bullying Congress

I don’t know why I watch Hardball, really. I kind of like Chris Matthews, but the things I learn on that program aren’t really things that are much worth knowing, and Chris is sometimes a bit of an idiot.

He’s all over Sarah Palin, just thrilled to death with the prospect of her future as the leader of the Republican Party. He thinks she will be the next Republican presidential nominee; says she’s really smart (?) and that she has “star power.” He opined that “Goldwater did it, Nixon did it, she can do it.” Um, those two guys were presidential candidates who came back to get nominated, not vice-presidential selections.

And, “she’s really smart,” he says? I think he’s been feeling too many thrills up his leg.

He had one of the auto executives on and asked him if the company could assure that it would be able to repay a loan. The exec gave a pep talk about the importance of car companies; didn’t even pretend to answer the question. To me that means that, no, that cannot be even remotely certain of repaying the loan. Chris Matthews just thanked him and moved on to the next question.

Which brings me to the title of this post. The auto makers are doing the same thing to Congress that Paulson did.

“Armageddon is coming and you need to do what I tell you, precisely the way I tell you to do it, within days, or the world as we know it will end. I am the only one who knows the solution, your solutions will not work, and if I try to explain things to you your head will explode because you are entirely to stupid to understand these high principles. Shut up and do as I tell you, right now.”

How do we know that a bailout loan is the only workable solution? Because the auto executives say so. How do we know that Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not viable? Because the auto executives say so. How do we know that millions of jobs depend on the auto companies? Because the auto executives say so.

Well, everybody is saying these things now, but they got them from the auto executives and are taking them as gospel.

Congress caved to Paulson. They put some lipstick on Paulson’s pig, but it was still a pig when they served it up. Interestingly, the $700 billion that Paulson said it was imperative to spend buying toxic debt to avoid Armageddon was not spent the way Paulson claimed was essential. Half of it was spent in a different manner, a manner that Paulson said would not work. The outcome has hardly been pretty, but it certainly has not been the financial meltdown that Paulson predicted.

Congress will cave to the auto executives as well. They are busily lipsticking the pig, but they will serve it up in the end. Congress has proven that it cannot think for itself, and it cannot or will not act independently. It will do whatever it is bullied into doing.

So they will get the loans and build the cars, and then what? The cars will go where, exactly? Nobody is buying cars, not Detroit cars certainly, but not any brand in any quantity. With unemployment projected to continue increasing for up to a year, who is going to be buying these cars?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:47 AM

    No one; even Toyota lost money last quarter, the first in their history. And even if people were willing to buy cars, the banks seem unwilling to loan them the money to do so.
    Besides, when an auto executive says that their problem is not that they spend half again as much to build a car as a non-"big3" manufacturer, the industries problems will not be solved by loans. Firing the CEOs, maybe, but giving them more money to waste, no.