Incoming Members of 111th Congress Say No to Automaker Bailout

By Josiah Ryan | November 17, 2008 | 7:08pm EST

Chevrolet sales consultant Sherie Howard takes a call Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008, in downtown Los Angeles. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called autos a "critical industry" Wednesday but said a $700 billion financial rescue program wasn't designed for them. The White House was noncommital, but said it was open to new ideas. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)

( - Congressmen-elect who were visiting the Capitol for freshman orientation on Monday told that they do not think a $25-billion bailout of the auto industry is a good idea.
Two of the congressmen-elect said if Congress provides a financial rescue package to the Big Three automakers – General Motors, Chrysler and Ford – both management and unions must be expected to make sacrifices in terms of compensation.
“I think we are at a point where we are bailing-out industries and companies that are not taking the steps to correct themselves,” Michael McMahon (D-N.Y.), told  
“I am somewhat skeptical about the bailout, though I haven’t seen all of the details yet. The question is, ‘How much can the American people pay for these companies to hang on by their fingernails?’”
“I do not” support an auto-maker bailout, Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) told “Bailing-out the Big Three allows them to avoid making an evaluation of how to become lean and mean and provide a product the American consumer likes better. My preference would be to avoid the bailout and allow the marketplace to work.”
Congress, which is returning this week for a lame-duck session, is expected to grapple with legislation originating in both chambers that would provide faltering automotive giants GM, Ford, and Chrysler with $25 billion in aid, which potentially would come out of the $700 billion allocated for the financial bailout in early October.
Charlie Brown (D-Calif.), who is still in the midst of a recount battle in California, told that he thinks if the Wall Street bailout begins to unfreeze credit as it was intended to do, automakers may not even need their own bailout.
“There is still the possibility that the first package works and we get the credit out there and people may start buying again,” Brown said. “Let’s not rush into another package here until we see what the first one is going to do.”
Incoming freshman Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) also told that he is “cautious” about Congress interfering with private companies.
“I am very cautious of the federal government getting involved in private industry,” said Schock. “I was not very excited when the Congress decided to get involved in our financial markets. Fundamentally speaking, I am more of a free market person though I think that from time to time the government can get involved in the markets.”
Democrats Brown and McMahon agreed that if the money were to be given to automakers by Congress, company management and autoworker union members ought to make sacrifices in terms of pay and benefit cuts.
“It [sacrifice] has got to be across the board,” Brown told “Any package that goes out there needs to be looking at everything. Nothing gets ruled out.”
“Certainly, in any industry that is hanging on by its fingernails, both management and the work force are going to have to take cuts in pay and cuts in benefits to keep it going,” said McMahon.

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