On Monday, the House of Representatives reconvened to discuss a new plan that would provide up to $15 billion in emergency loans to the Big Three Detroit automakers. While it may be described as a compromise between the auto industry and Congress, I will not support the federal government’s continued bailing out of private businesses with taxpayer dollars.
The American automobile industry is a vital part of the national economy, but no amount of additional taxpayer money can fix the Big Three's outdated business models. It is worth noting that none of the foreign owned auto makers who build cars in America are asking for a bailout. They had the foresight to avoid the union contracts that are burying Detroit, and they build cars that consumers want. If we would simply keep the tax collectors, lawyers, regulators and bureaucrats away from the auto industry, I am confident it would thrive.
Congress has gotten no assurance that a $15 billion “bridge loan” will not lead to a $34 billion “bailout,” as auto executives requested last week, further down the road. Detroit’s problems are myopic. Their platinum level union contracts put them at a competitive disadvantage with foreign auto makers (click hereto see a brief NPR comparison between GM and Toyota). Since the unions are not offering any major concessions in exchange for the bailout, the Big Three will still go broke once the money is all spent.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy has been used successfully by other struggling corporations over the years and would allow for the renegotiation of these crushing labor contracts. New management and common sense would lead to prompt restructuring and innovative, new products that can compete in today's markets.
Instead of increasing the debt burden on taxpayers, Congress should give American car manufacturers an immediate and drastic cut in their corporate tax rates and relief from the strict fuel economy standards passed last year. I also support the temporary tax incentive proposal set forth by Democrat Senator Barbara Mikulski, which would reward car buyers with tax deductions on interest payments, car loans, and sales and excise taxes on cars purchased through the end of 2009. These tax breaks would reduce the purchase price of a $25,000 Dodge minivan by an estimated $1,553, and would apply to loans of up to $49,500.