In an interview yesterday morning with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, Fox contributor Jonathan Hoenig calls the domestic auto industry a “Ponzi scheme” and possible government efforts to prevent their bankruptcy “thievery.” His advice to auto workers? “Buy a Honda. We’re going to get by just fine without General Motors and Ford.” After the interview, Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett scoffed:
You retire and you get health care for life? Since when? I mean, no wonder the Big Three are broke.
Watch clips from the interview:
The potential collapse of the domestic auto industry, the ensuing devastation of manufacturing communities, and the dissolution of the safety net for the millions of retired auto employees and their families doesn’t faze Fox News. Nearly 3 million U.S. jobs would disappear and hundreds of billions of dollars would leave the U.S. economy if GM, Ford and Chrysler were to cease operations in 2009.
The Fox News outrage at government intervention in the auto industry comes as the AIG bailout alone has reached $150 billion. But the auto manufacturing sector is much more important to American families than the financial industry. “Every auto plant job generates another five jobs among suppliers and the surrounding community,” writes auto industry representative Dave McCurdy. “By comparison, a Wall Street job generates two additional jobs.”
Ironically, the Fox anchors are right when they criticize the manufacturers for their history of fighting higher fuel economy standards (although they completely ignored the proximate causes of the frozen credit markets and a spiraling recession). Of course, Fox is normally rabidly against any government regulations or conservation of fossil fuels. Their mindless drumbeat against global warming legislation and for increased offshore drilling is exactly the kind of right-wing propaganda that has prevented innovation in the auto industry.
KELLY: As I understand it now, the feds have already approved 25 billion, and now they want another 50 billion to go to the United Auto Workers, among other … or to go to these industries in part to pay for members’ retirement and health care benefits?
HOENIG: Indeed, indeed. And it is thievery, Megyn. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s thievery by the Democrats, it’s thievery by the unions. I’m sorry, but these companies, which have been poorly managed for decades, have no right to it. They have no right to taxpayer dollars. These people have no right to a job. And the automakers as an industry have no right to any benefits that, oh I don’t know, Circuit City, which filed for Chapter 11 today, or Lehman Brothers, or any other industry has. If you’re headed to bankruptcy that’s exactly where they should end up.
HOENIG: I don’t understand what’s socially responsible about taking money from taxpayers and giving it to these Ponzi schemes called the Big Three.
HOENIG: Why don’t you buy a Honda. I buy a Honda, Megyn, and it runs great. This country has gone by without Studebaker, we’ve gotten by without Packard, we’ve gotten by without the Pullman Porters. We’ve gotten by without a lot of industries that, you know, many thought were essential. We’re gonna get by just fine without General Motors, Ford, and more taxpayer dollars for them.
JARRETT: We like snarky. I’ve never heard of the Big Three referred to as a Ponzi scheme as Jonathan did. I always enjoy listening to him.
KELLY: Ha ha ha ha. It’s always a good sign when Rhonda is laughing.
JARRETT: Heh, yeah.
KELLY: Rhonda is behind my camera. Ha ha ha. She enjoyed that segment.
JARRETT: You retire and you get health care for life? Since when? I mean, no wonder the Big Three have been — are broke.
KELLY: Right, if a company goes under, you know, why should the feds be stepping in to fund that? I mean, I know that doesn’t come as good news to the folks that want those benefits, but to the taxpayers, I mean . . . You see the controversy.
JARRETT: Didn’t they learn, by the way, thirty years ago we gotta build more fuel efficient cars? I thought we learned that thirty years ago, in the seventies.
KELLY: The one piece of good news that came out of that is that the gas is really no longer $4 a gallon. I’ve been feeling that. It’s been down in the tubes!
JARRETT: It’s been great.
KELLY: Keep it going!
JARRETT: You worry then they’ll say, we can go back to building big cars.
KELLY: Of course they will.