The political horror show that has been the auto hearings took another turn today as Congress and the Republicans refused to offer any relief. As Wednesday’s Times notes,
But with the House set to adjourn at the end of Thursday, the automakers were left with only the dimmest of hopes that Congress would provide any assistance this year.
And faced with this, how does our would-be governor respond?
But (Hoekstra) said if lawmakers are inclined to dole out $25 billion to Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, executives at the Detroit Three and the thousands of employees across the nation need to make concessions, including slashing pay and developing new business models.
While the clock ticks, he’s basically fiddling. Of course new business models have to be found. And yes, it’s pretty clear that workers are going to get it, too. Underneath the reluctance of the present Republican leadership is the hope that maybe, perhaps it won’t be as bad as the executive leadership has portrayed it (though the idea of GM burning through $5 billion a month is simply staggering. That’s not sustainable). So behind their actions lies the rather pathetic hope that if worst comes to worst, there’s always the President
A punt to the President who really doesn’t want to play.
There are of course, some crass political calculations. This has all the makings of a classic stand-off, the kind where the President has stood firm and the Democratic congress blinks. But other factors are also in play. First, the prospect of a new administration certainly is stiffening the spine of some on the Democratic side; and second, there is the question again of legacy. If an economic disaster looms, it threatens to add one lasting black eye to an already punched-out administration.
At the local level, the prospect of a GM collapse doesn’t seem to play so well. If the President doesn’t help, what happens to the perception of the GOP? Can they switch the blame to the UAW? Or are they stuck as the agents of this collapse, willing to spend billions on the financiers but nothing on the guy on the line? It’s Hoover II. This evident political risk renders Hoekstra’s stance all the more peculiar. No amount of righteousness protects them from a collapsed state economy — even the possibility for blaming the UW will scarcely help if the corpse of GM is deposited at the doorstep.
So the politicians — and especially the GOP — seem to be playing the high stakes game. Meanwhile, at the level that most of us understand, at the line at the grocery store, or at the hardware store, this is a situation that threatens us even more. And whoever gets the blame will keep that albatross for a generation. Or more.