GM has bowed to political pressure, deciding that it won’t use taxpayer money to import compact vehicles from China. Instead, Aveo II (a.k.a. the Chevy Viva) will be built at one of three existing GM plants. (Hello, DOE retooling loans!) Up for the contract are Michigan’s Orion Township, Tennessee’s Spring Hill and Wisconsin’s Janesville assembly plants, and GM’s Troy Clarke is meeting with workers and unions from the three locales in order to determine the best site for Viva production. Oh, did I say workers and unions? I meant congressional delegations. Because, in the post Barney Frank-gate environment, “(GM’s choice is) going to be based on pure business decision,” according to Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI). Would Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) like to clarify? “We’ve been in the front line of pain and we very much believe that one of the factors that should be taken into account is the impact of other decisions,” Levin tells the DetN. Gosh, that sounds almost . . . political. Hit the jump to find out which congressional delegation is most likely to build the new generation of GM compacts.
Orion Township—The Michigan Congressional Delegation (3-1)
Similar to “real business,” the political economy rewards those who buy in early. And the Michigan congressional delegation was shuffling political rewards to its home-district auto industry when much of the congress was still funneling student body government contracts towards political contributers. And they’ve got the approach down pat. Rep. Gary Peters (quoted above) indicates that local tax breaks will help GM justify a decision as a “pure business decision,” while Rep. Sander Levin provides the touchy-feely, “feel our pain” rationale. Plus, the Orion Township plant doesn’t shut down production until the Fall. And let’s not forget that the Levin twins are renowned for their spot-welding skills. Orion is by far the front-runner.
Janesville, Wisconsin—The Wisconsin Congressional Delegation (5-1)
Wisconsin Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Paul Ryan do not have the long record of experience reflexively supporting the auto industry that Michigan’s corps does. On the other hand, Janesville’s plant has 90 years of history, meaning there will be plenty of material for a heart string-tugging PowerPoint presentation. Which makes a difference with these things. Also, as a former truck plant, Janesville could get mucho green kudos for performing the whole truck-to-compact transformation. And we hear that Russ Feingold runs a mean paint shop.
Spring HIll, Tenessee—The Tennessee Congressional Delegation (10-1)
Senator Bob Corker has been a huge fly in the bailout ointment, scuttling the first round of congressional bailout beggary. Ever since, his (and fellow TN senator Lamar Alexander’s) rhetorical commitment to free market principles has been an inconvenient presence that draws legitimacy from the effort to pour billions into GM and Chrysler. Expect this principle to be duly rewarded with a real unwillingness to retool the Spring Hill plant. Oh, wait, it already has been. TN Governor Phil Bredesen has already been told that the only way to make up for his recalcitrant Senators is $200 million. “They don’t care about tax credits and those other kinds of things,” Bredesen tells the Tennessean. “It certainly was a new look for me at how they’re approaching this thing, which is absolutely, ‘Tell me how big of a check you’re going to write.’” Don’t bet that Corker’s efficiency on a stamping press is going to make a difference here.