CommunityFDL Main Blog

The Wrestling Match over the Auto Bailout

The press is reporting that a deal has been reached on the bridge loan to the automakers.

But that’s not right. What has been accomplished is the drafting of a bill that will proceed to get beat to a pulp in the Senate. It’s not yet clear whether it will survive that beating.

Here are the outstanding issues:

Busting the Unions or Busting our Economy

A number of Republican Senators still insist that it would be worth busting our economy for the opportunity to bust the UAW. Note that McConnell has officially joined those holding the auto industry hostage to busting the union–and he’s using the $73/hour lizard lie to do so.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the industry’s predicament came from "decades of complicity between management and labor" and that the draft failed to force necessary cuts.

"I will not support a bill that revives the patient with taxpayer dollars yet doesn’t secure a commitment that the patient will change its ways so future help isn’t needed," McConnell said.

"It’s delusional to expect a company that spends $71 per labor hour to compete with a company in a neighboring state that spends $49 per labor hour," he added.

McConnell’s criticisms mirrored those of Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who has said the automakers and the UAW need to commit to steep cuts in return for aid, namely immediately cutting UAW wages to those at foreign automakers’ plants and accepting half of the money for the retiree health care trust fund in stock.

[snip]

Corker has said he would vote against the bill as drafted so far, and a spokesman for Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said he would place a hold on any rescue plan, which can be overcome with 60 votes.

Note on implication of this: if McConnell is going to insist on bringing the lizard-lie number in line with the Japanese manufacturers (that is, the hourly wage plus retiree benefits), it would require bringing the hourly pay of UAW employees below that of Toyota employees (since the Toyota employees’ wages don’t get advertised as including retiree benefits). In other words, McConnell isn’t just talking about bringing wages down, he’s talking about really busting the union.

Busting the Environment or Busting our Economy

In addition, there are a number of Republicans–including some at the White House–who prefer to bust our economy than agree to the assertion that our emissions need to be raised. The Administration–along with a slew of Republicans–won’t support the bill if it retains what I dubbed the Nancy Pelosi clause, requiring that manufacturers that get the loan withdraw from their suit against CA’s higher emission standards.

Democrats kept a provision, opposed by the White House, that would bar the car companies from pursuing lawsuits against California and other states trying to implement tougher tailpipe emissions standards. Republicans say the move would undercut the automakers’ profits, but Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said yesterday in a letter to Reid that GM and Ford have laid out business plans indicating that they intend to outperform the California fuel economy standards within a few years anyway.

The administration official predicted that if the prohibition is not removed, the bailout proposal will not be approved by Congress.

This is a key issue because, if it gets pulled, you’ll begin to lose Democratic support; if it remains in, you’ll lose potential Republican support. If I were GM and Chrysler, I’d announce now that they’re dropping the suits, to take this off the table.

No Free Ride for Dan Quayle and Friends

A bipartisan group of Senators are seeking a way to hold Cerberus–as opposed to just Chrysler–responsible for paying back the loans.

Democrats also included a provision that would permit the government to take warrants in Cerberus Capital Management, the private-equity firm that owns 80 percent of Chrysler, rather than Chrysler itself, according to a senior congressional aide. The White House balked at that idea, congressional aides said, but even some Republicans are troubled by the possibility that Cerberus could profit from the bailout.

Yesterday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said taxpayers should not pour cash into Chrysler if Cerberus was unwilling to do so.

This one is getting fun–because we are closer to the point where BushCo admits it thinks their Republican cronies at Cerberus should have a free ride.

Veto Power Over $100 Million Expenditures

So from what I see, only a few things have been fixed in the latest drafts. One that has improved is raising the level of expenditure the Auto Czar would have to approve to $100 million. Given how many auto contracts would have exceeded the $25 million level that the bill had been set at, this is one improvement made since Monday.

The Votes in the Senate

So here’s how I think the votes will come out in the Senate, just based on gut:

We Hafta Dems: While most Democrats don’t love this idea, I think we’ll get about 42-45 of Senate Dems supporting the bill, though the prohibition against lawsuits is a big issue. (42-45)

Skeptical Dems: There are a few Dems who are on the fence–and they’re not just the Blue Dog conservatives. Tester, for example, remains skeptical (as has been clear from his questions in the Banking Committee). (4-7)

Absent or Non-Voting Senators: Kerry and Klobuchar are scheduled for an overseas trip at the end of the week. Kennedy’s presence always remains questionable. Hillary will vote, but it’s not clear whether Biden will do so. Coleman is not only still trying to get re-elected, but worrying about getting busted. (4-5)

US Auto Manufacturing Senators: Then there are at least 2 Republican Senators who will whip this bill–Kit Bond and George Voinovich.

We Hafta Republicans: This is the key group–those Republicans who may hate this, but would vote for cloture. I’d imagine it might include: Snowe, Collins, Specter, Coleman (if he votes), Murkowski, Smith (if he votes), Bennett, Martinez, Grassley. McConnell is a big question mark, but he seems to be leaning toward supporting a filibuster. (3-10)

Bust the Union Senators: Then there are the Senators who will try to stage a filibuster: Shelby, Sessions, Bunning, Corker, Kyl, Ensign, DeMint, Vitter, Coburn. I don’t think they know whether they have numbers to stop this yet–but they’re definitely winning the PR war. (35-44)

Add in one more factor: Reid has, thus far at least, signaled that he will make Republicans actually filibuster this one.

Mr. Reid said he would urge lawmakers in both parties to be available to vote on the auto rescue package. “I would suggest it’s not a very good vote to miss,” he said. “Maybe multiple votes.”

Multiple procedural votes seemed increasingly likely given the Republican displeasure with the way the legislation has been handled.

Given Reid’s past history–and just as importantly, the number of Dems who may be absent or not voting, that is subject to change. But one of the most likely ways to get those Hafta Dems (and wavering Dems like Tester) to cave is to require them to stick around DC through the weekend and into the holiday season.

CommunityEmpty Wheel

The Wrestling Match over the Auto Bailout

The press is reporting that a deal has been reached on the bridge loan to the automakers.

But that’s not right. What has been accomplished is the drafting of a bill that will proceed to get beat to a pulp in the Senate. It’s not yet clear whether it will survive that beating.

Here are the outstanding issues:

Busting the Unions or Busting our Economy

A number of Republican Senators still insist that it would be worth busting our economy for the opportunity to bust the UAW.  Note that McConnell has officially joined those holding the auto industry hostage to busting the union–and he’s using the $73/hour lizard lie to do so.  

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the industry’s predicament came from "decades of complicity between management and labor" and that the draft failed to force necessary cuts.

"I will not support a bill that revives the patient with taxpayer dollars yet doesn’t secure a commitment that the patient will change its ways so future help isn’t needed," McConnell said.

"It’s delusional to expect a company that spends $71 per labor hour to compete with a company in a neighboring state that spends $49 per labor hour," he added.

McConnell’s criticisms mirrored those of Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who has said the automakers and the UAW need to commit to steep cuts in return for aid, namely immediately cutting UAW wages to those at foreign automakers’ plants and accepting half of the money for the retiree health care trust fund in stock.

[snip]

Corker has said he would vote against the bill as drafted so far, and a spokesman for Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said he would place a hold on any rescue plan, which can be overcome with 60 votes.

Note on implication of this: if McConnell is going to insist on bringing the lizard-lie number in line with the Japanese manufacturers (that is, the hourly wage plus retiree benefits), it would require bringing the hourly pay of UAW employees below that of Toyota employees (since the Toyota employees’ wages don’t get advertised as including retiree benefits). In other words, McConnell isn’t just talking about bringing wages down, he’s talking about really busting the union. 

Busting the Environment or Busting our Economy

In addition, there are a number of Republicans–including some at the White House–who prefer to bust our economy than agree to the assertion that our emissions need to be raised. (more…)

Previous post

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 60: The United States Does Not Comply

Next post

Has the US Supreme court just thrown out DOMA?

emptywheel

emptywheel