13 December 2008

Bob Corker, bailout-killer

Perhaps the thing that aggravates me about political extremists is the parochialism. 

There will always be Republicans who defend President Bush's every move as they fall over the cliff with him, and there will always be Democrats who try to excuse some of President Clinton's late-second-term antics or unabashedly root against the U.S. military to succeed in Iraq.

Over the last 8 years, Medicare Part D, out-of-control deficit spending, military blunders overseas, secrecy, bureaucratic incompetence and, now, enormous bailout checks from the federal government have all come about as a result of the efforts of a Republican administration.

I can't comprehend how 3 in 10 people still approve of the job our president is doing.

But for the efforts of a Republican senatorial contingent led by Tennessee's Bob Corker, this brilliant Republican administration that has all but spat on the grave of Ronald Reagan would have put another $30 billion bailout package on the collective back of the American taxpayers. 

Mitt Romney wrote a thoughtful op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last month, reversing his primary-season stance and arguing that it's time for Detroit to reinvent itself on its own. Bloated wage and benefit packages ($30 an hour for working on an assembly line?!) and an unholy alliance between the Big 3 and the UAW have nearly bankrupt at least one of the automakers and have brought the Big 3's executives crawling to Washington for a handout. Bailout checks, Romney said, would only postpone the inevitable -- until Detroit becomes more responsible in how it spends its money, it deserves nothing from the federal government.

Sen. Corker, echoing some of Romney's thoughts on Friday, noted that had the Democrats been willing to acquiesce by mandating that Detroit's benefit packages be brought in line with those of Toyota (whose costs per man hour come out to around $29 per hour), more than 90% of the body would have come to a resolution. It's no secret, as Sen. Corker pointed out, that Senate Democrats, long in the pockets of the UAW bosses, were one of the key culprits in this deal.

But where was the supposedly conservative Bush administration? How in the world, after a $700 billion bailout of the financial sector, could this administration possibly afford to write another enormous check to another completely irresponsible industry?

Hats off to Sen. Corker for a job well done.

No comments: