Thursday, December 11, 2008


Joe Conason:

... What Americans may not know about the problems of the automotive business seems at least as pertinent as what they have been told so far. The chances are that voters ... have no idea how heavily the livelihood of auto workers in competing countries is subsidized by their governments -- starting with health care and moving on to child care, pensions and a host of other benefits that American workers have not begun to imagine.

Such comparisons tend to be absent from most mainstream analysis of the auto crisis. Equally relevant and usually missing, too, is the news that competitor nations are preparing to provide many billions in aid to their car companies. Right now, the European Union is considering a loan package to the Continent's auto industries that may exceed $50 billion....

Jane Hamsher:

Bob Corker ... hasn't mentioned the subsidies his own state of Tennessee has given to foreign automakers, making it harder for the Big 2 1/2 to compete:

Tennessee offered its richest incentive package -- and perhaps the most government assistance and tax breaks ever for an American automobile plant -- to lure Volkswagen to Chattanooga.

But the state's chief business recruiter said Wednesday that the benefits from VW's $1 billion assembly plant far will exceed what could top $500 million in government assistance and tax breaks for the project....

Just a little perspective for this:

A $14 billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate Thursday night after the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts.

... Republicans ... balked at giving the automakers federal aid unless their powerful union agreed to slash wages next year to bring them into line with those of Japanese carmakers.

Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio, a strong bailout supporter, said the UAW was willing to make the cuts -- but not until 2011.

... The autoworkers' contract doesn't expire until 2011....

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