Southern lawmakers sour on Detroit bailout

WASHINGTON (AP) - If it's no surprise that Michigan lawmakers are behind the pitch for a $25 billion lifeline for Detroit automakers, then it might be just as predictable that Southerners would be leading the charge against it.

Southern politicians have spent years luring foreign automakers to build cars in their states, with huge success.

South Carolina has BMW. Mississippi recently landed a major plant for Toyota. Alabama boasts plants run by Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Honda. In Georgia, the governor recently began using a Kia SUV in honor of the company's planned $1.2 billion manufacturing facility in West Point.

Neither of Alabama's senators, Jeff Sessions (R) or Richard Shelby (R), are for the bailout. On November 14th Sessions sent a letter to President Bush asking him to immediately limit government interference in the economy. Sessions wrote "Approval of the bailout plan represents a dereliction of congressional responsibility that should never have been allowed to happen."

For his part, Senator Shelby recently said the American automotive industry was a "dinosaur" and a federal bailout would only postpone its demise.

It's not that Southerners are secretly wishing for the Big Three to collapse.

But if those automakers were to falter, the new players are poised to ramp up production and possibly turn the South into the next Detroit.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)