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The first opportunity for the GOP to re-stake its claim as the party of small government and free markets has presented itself earlier than anyone could have expected.
A major U.S. industry is on the verge of bankruptcy and despite the fears of a short-term impact on the economy, Republicans must oppose a bailout of Detroit in order to set the auto industry on a path of self-reliance in coming decades.
Barack Obama ran against Washington-as-usual and it worked. One of the things that people across the political spectrum say they hate the most about the government is special interest influence in policy making, and throughout the campaign Obama claimed that he hated it as well.
That being said, Obama relied heavily on Union support and support from the United Auto Workers union in particular, for both money and organization in both the primaries and the general election.
The proposed government bailout, which Obama supports, would provide taxpayer money to an industry that have been losing money hand over fist, quarter after quarter for years. The government cash would prevent them from having to layoff their unionized employees, keep the assembly lines running and keep their CEO’s flying in private jets until the next time they get into trouble.
A long-term solution is what is needed and for the Big Three and bankruptcy is the first step in the long rehabilitation process.
Now, bankruptcy doesn’t not mean that Ford, GM and/or Chrysler will just disappear, never to be heard from again. What it does mean is that the auto companies will be forced to change the way they do business in order to survive and once again become profitable.
Most importantly, they will have to renegotiate contracts with the unions so that they can once again compete with overseas companies like Toyota, which are currently kicking their butts all over the marketplace. In addition to this, once the bankruptcy occurs, the government can use its new leverage to give Detroit real incentives to adopt new technology in the vehicles they produce.
Even though they claim to love hybrids, most Democrats are so beholden to the unions that they would support them regardless of the long-term environmental benefits associated with forcing the car companies to restructure from the bottom up.
The GOP, however, has nothing to lose. The House GOP was adamantly opposed to the original $700 billion bailout package, but went along with it in the end, essentially out of hope of preserving John McCain’s chances in the November election.
Without the electoral albatross around their necks, the GOP can stick to their guns and put immense pressure on Democrats in swing districts to kill a handout that the American people are almost certain to oppose.
Bailing out our financial institutions is one thing. Millions of investors and businesses relied on the money that was at stake in the preservation of the gatekeepers of our nation’s private wealth.
If the Big Three fail, jobs will be lost, the market will lose more of its value and the economy in the affected regions will assuredly suffer. However, letting the companies fail and rebuild from the bottom up (which they almost certainly will, not wanting to abandon their infrastructure) will have a long-term positive impact in that it will force a 20th century industry to adapt to a 21st century world.
When the bailout comes to the desk of President Bush, I am confident that he will veto it. When the same bill comes to the same desk before President Obama, he will be forced to either hold true to his campaign rhetoric, in which he billed himself as a new kind of politician, or risk losing the support of one of the special interest groups that helped him get elected. Not a good position for a president to find himself in only weeks into his presidency.
With the abdication of political power comes the ability to return to ideological purity without the threat of electoral repercussions.
With this opportunity also comes a chance to regain typically Republican voters who abandoned John McCain and the GOP for Libertarians like Ron Paul and Bob Barr. These voters are largely young males whose votes wouldn’t have made much of a difference for John McCain at the polls. But the energy and fierce loyalty they exhibited during the long campaign is exactly what we need to counter the Obama youth’s celebrity-driven dedication to their candidate.
Either way, this is the line in the sand that we as a party need to draw in order to reinvent ourselves and for the auto industry to reinvent itself.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
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Posted by Falling Panda at 11:25 AM