Several prominent Alabama politicians oppose Auto Bailout Plan

Mario A. Hendricks - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL. (WSFA) -- Several Alabama politicians voiced their opposition to the passing of the Auto Finance Bill in the House of Representatives.

Congressman Mike Rogers, Congressman Artur Davis and Congressman Spencer Bachus all released statements to show their disapproval of the auto bailout.

Here are the statements released by the congressmen.

Congressman Mike Rogers:
"While no one wants any company to fail or any person to lose their job, I could not in good faith support this bailout. These proud companies are in dire straits because of their own mistakes and questionable management decisions and need a long-term solution to help them return to prosperity, not the short-term funding included in this legislation.  Better proposals that do not put the taxpayer at risk, or possible bankruptcy reorganization, could have been better options than what passed the House.

"Our country is facing increasingly grim economic times. But I do not believe this legislation answered why the Federal Government should bail out these individual companies, while ignoring others that are in the same or worse shape here in East Alabama and across the country".

Congressman Artur Davis:
"While I am aware that American auto manufacturers are in crisis and acknowledge that the collapse of that industry is unacceptable, I believe that the bridge loan before Congress is the wrong approach.  I am convinced that this $15 billion dollar package is only an installment on an open ended commitment that is hardly guaranteed to make the industry more productive or efficient.

"I also fear that we need clear guiding principles as to what industries are eligible for federal intervention and exactly what role our government is going to play in aiding these troubled segments of our economy. Today, it is the domestic automobile industry that seeks federal help; tomorrow, it will be another industry, and then another. Rather than follow this path wherever it leads, we should be exploring private sector options such as forced consolidation or receivership."

"Finally, I have too many doubts about how our money authorized in the financial markets bailout package that Congress passed in October has been managed. There is too much evidence that taxpayer dollars have gone unintended purposes like executive compensation and too little evidence that the infusion of government dollars has made banks more inclined to loan to consumers and small businesses. Given that uncertain track record, there is too much of a risk that the automotive bailout will not work in the way Congress intends."

Congressman Spencer Bachus:
"We are here today because every one of us recognizes the importance of the domestic auto industry to our economy and to our manufacturing base.  Every one of us understands the cascading effects that could be unleashed if GM, Ford or Chrysler fails.  If one of the Big Three were to go under, that failure could bring down the auto suppliers.  Because you can't build cars without parts, if the suppliers shut down, their failure could not only bring down the other two, it could also affect the ability of the foreign manufacturers that have been successfully building cars in the United States to keep their factories running.  Millions of jobs are at risk."

"Even though all Americans want this industry to succeed, I cannot support this plan to spend taxpayer money to bail them out.  It is my view that any aid for the automobile industry should be limited to transitional assistance as a part of a fundamental restructuring plan and should fully protect the taxpayer.  This legislation does not meet that standard."

Some of the worst bills passed by Congress come when we rush to judgment, and my fear is that is exactly what is happening here.  Members have had only a few hours to evaluate this bill, a measure that was the product of closed-door negotiations outside the normal legislative process and the watchful eyes of the American people.

As I said, we have only had a few hours to study this bill, but certain flaws are glaring:

  • 1. We are creating a new "Car Czar," an all-powerful presidential appointee to help the parties fix the fundamental flaws in the Big Three's business models and contracts that have made the companies uncompetitive. Congress won't have a role, just one man. And that man will have a nearly impossible task.
  • 2. The legislation imposes new mandates on the auto companies. If they are in such bad shape that they need billions of dollars of taxpayer help, why are we imposing new mandates on them? The Car Czar will have the authority to suffocate innovation at the auto companies by rejecting any transaction that "materially changes" the financial condition of the companies or if any transaction exceeds $100 million. And the legislation mandates that the companies comply with state laws that impose inefficient and potentially excessive emissions standards instead of more reasonable federal laws.
  • 3. The legislation imposes the wisdom of the Federal government on the Big Three. Although it is clear that the management of those companies have made mistakes - a lot of mistakes - the solution is not to create a command and control central economy. When the Federal government gets involved in private enterprise, it dooms that enterprise to failure.

This was a bad process, and this is a bad bill that I believe we will come to regret.  I urge a "no" vote.