Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
George Bush’s deep unpopularity, lack of a positive agenda or accomplishments, and his waning days in office have sapped most of his presidential powers save one: the ability to say “no.” His intransigent opposition to long term bridge loans to save General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford has forced Congressional leaders to scramble to provide assistance to prevent bankruptcy, which would devastate the already ailing economy. It appears that there is a tentative deal that will keep GM and Chrysler on life support until the new president and Congress can provide long-term assistance to nurse them back to health.
The possible deal would loan GM and Chrysler up to $17 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program, established by Sec. 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act. This program provides up to $25 billion in loans to retool factories so that they can produce more efficient vehicles that meet new fuel economy standards. Already, the Big Three and smaller innovative start up companies are seeking these funds.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposed using these funds for the bridge loans because they are supposed to jump start efforts to build significantly more efficient cars. Taking this money would only delay this critical effort, slowing American companies’ efforts to win the race to build the super efficient cars of the 21st Century.
November’s shocking unemployment figures of another half million people out of work made it imperative that GM and Chrysler avoid bankruptcy. Speaker Pelosi acted responsibly to provide the only solution that Bush and conservative lawmakers would accept:
“Congress is considering various short term funding options for the American automobile industry. We will not permit any funds to be borrowed from the advanced technology program unless there is a guarantee that those funds will be replenished in a matter of weeks so as not to delay that crucial initiative. Regardless of the source, all funding needs will be tightly targeted with vigorous supervision and guaranteed taxpayer protection.”
This weekend, Congressional leaders will hammer out the conditions for the loans. Read more