Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) today announced his opposition to “any additional relief” for the auto industry, a little more than a month after voting for the troubled $700 billion bailout for the financial industry. In an online chat with the readers of the conservative website RedState, Chambliss was asked where he stands on the auto industry bailout. He responded:
The automobile industry has systemic, deep-rooted problems that money will not solve and I will not support funding any additional relief to the auto industry.
Despite the “systemic, deep-rooted problems” in the financial industry “that money will not solve,” Chambliss voted Yea in both of the Senate votes on October 1st for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package [Vote #212, Vote #213]. The Treasury has since disbursed hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to investment firms and banks, but “few are rushing to make the loans that companies and consumers need to cushion the economic slump.”
It is true that the auto industry needs to be retooled to be a leader in America’s green recovery. But inaction now could mean irrevocable damage to jobs, businesses, and communities that would make industry reform exponentially more difficult. The implosion of the auto industry would be catastrophic for thousands, if not millions, of American families. As Center for American Progress fellows Bracken Hendricks and Dan Weiss, with Ben Goldstein, explain:
The auto industry is a bedrock of the economy, with “one in 10 American jobs related to auto manufacturing.” Its survival is essential for the future of advanced clean vehicle and energy manufacturing. What’s more, this extra help is imperative to preserve jobs.
The implications of a collapse of General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler are beginning to become apparent. On Thursday, “Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service lowered the credit ratings of two big auto suppliers, and put 13 others on watch for possible reductions, because of their ties to car makers.”
In an October 24 debate with his run-off opponent, Jim Martin (D-GA), Chambliss claimed the hundreds of billions in loans made by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson “went to free up liquidity so that people in Georgia can once again begin to have the- the freeing up of that credit so that they buy automobiles.”
By the time the “freeing up of that credit” actually takes place, there very well may be many fewer automobiles for Georgians to buy. As economist and blogger Duncan Black commented on news that Congress lacks the votes for action on the auto industry, “It’s pretty interesting that we’re propping up the fake economy and letting the real economy wither.”