This is the Memorial Day weekend, when we commemorate our fallen heroes and raise our cancer risk by burning chopped beef. Listening to the media, it looks and sounds like the fallen heroes of the year are not the ones who gave and give their lives in ceaseless wars, but the auto industry. It didn’t quite die. It was medevaced in a TARP and helped by the PTFOA to get over its PTSD.
Instead of thanking the nation’s heroes (he did so in an afterthought, asking for “single acts of kindness”) VP Biden thanked himself:
“When President and I came into office, we faced an auto industry on the brink of extinction, total collapse. At the time, many people thought the President should just let GM and Chrysler go under. They didn’t think the automobile industry was essential to America’s future. The President disagreed – and, in addition, he wasn’t willing to walk away from the thousands of hardworking UAW members who worked at GM and Chrysler.”
By taking full credit for the bailout, Biden once and for all put the argument to rest that the bailout had been inherited from G.W., and that the heirs had no other choice. Time for another pat on the administration’s shoulders:
“Because of what we did, the automobile industry is rising again. Manufacturing is coming back, and our economy is recovering and it is gaining traction.”
Some (see below) have a different opinion. The video is above and in full length, but don’t let the hamburgers go up in flames while you watch.
Meanwhile, over at the National Public Radio, an organization which is generally not under suspicion of right-of-center leanings, Memorial Day was celebrated by yet another commemoration of the heroic rescue of our auto industry.
That program was headlined “Chrysler Repays Billions, Was Bailout Worth It?” Which signaled some skepticism.
NPR is a fair and balanced station, so they had someone who was pro bailout, and someone who was against.
The pro-bailout-person, Micheline Maynard, senior editor for CHANGING GEARS, the public radio project that looks at reinventing the Rust Belt, offered only lukewarm support for the bailout:
“There a lot of people who said the court system is available. Why don’t we put the auto industry – or at least General Motors and Chrysler – through that same system? But there were also fears because the recession was, I think, at its deepest point a couple of years ago, when this all – the subject came up.
There was also worries about the auto parts part of the industry, because if Chrysler had gone bankrupt, for example, and liquidated, these auto parts suppliers served not only General Motors and Ford, but Toyota and some of the other foreign carmakers. So that was part of the argument, that we can’t let the whole network go down.
But there is this other argument that you have other ways to do this, and this is the cost of doing business. Some companies make it. Other companies don’t.“
The anti-bailout-man, Dan Ikenson of the Cato Institute, generally called “a libertarian think tank,” first said that “I don’t think that we’re really in a position to measure” whether the bailout was worth it. But then he laid into the directors of the rescue operation:
“It should have gone to court. I think that we were in a sort of crisis mode, you know, as Rahm Emanuel, when he was in the White House, as he said: Never let a good crisis go to waste.
Paulson, former Secretary Paulson, told Congress they need to pass this financial bailout right away, or else we’re all doomed. It prevents us from really thinking clearly and with circumspection as to what we’re getting into.
So the costs of the rule of law, property rights were trampled with respect to the Chrysler bondholders, and this competitive process was stymied.
And so I think we need to – and if we look at the economy today, this regime uncertainty, which still persists – you know, we’ve been trying to come out of this recession. We’ve been moving slowly. Business is keeping money on the sidelines.”
We have linked to the full 30 minute program (sorry for the empty box …), but again, don’t forget those hamburgers.
It sure was a memorable Memorial Day. We’ll remember it as the beginning of the Presidential campaign 2012.
Did you check the $3 box on your tax return?