Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Auto Zone on Capital Hill

The new $14-Billion Automotive Bailout Package has something for everyone, so long as you’re an autoworker, large transit system operator, or a Federal Judge. The House tonight passed a bill for $14-billion in emergency loans to GM and Chrysler, with a safety net for Ford, if needed.

It’s not a done deal, however, because the Senate has yet to weigh in with their version, so there is no lock for passage yet. The plan passed tonight would also create the position of “Car Czar,” to be appointed by President Bush before leaving office, whose job it would be to administer the money and enforce compliance with the agreement.

All three car makers must renegotiate with Labor Unions, and submit by Spring a plan for reorganization. One sore spot is the fact that some of the bailout bucks are coming from a fund created to help the auto manufacturers re-tool factories to build greener cars…but pragmatically speaking, what good is such a fund, if the manufacturer is out of business?

The House version also restricts executive compensation, prohibits paying dividends to investors, and stipulates that the government/taxpayers be repaid first before shareholders. The bill also requires the car makers to get rid of their corporate jets…and provides an unrelated provision giving a pay raise to Federal judges.

Ah, yes.
Change you can believe in.

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