PLAYING WITH "OTHER PEOPLE'S" MONEY...
By Rick Carlton - The Auto Channel
"A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." - George Washington
Yesterday afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi again offered comments on the progression of the current auto industry restructuring bill, as it winds through the halls of government. While Ms. Pelosi is always ready with a handy sound bite, the results of her yammering are rarely useful, and more times than not, downright destructive. Granted, the political game is based on equal parts power and money, but when a central, (no; THE CENTRAL) component of the American economy, is pleading for relief from financial liquidity constraints, our "leaders" could get over themselves long enough to get, at least, one thing right. Instead, however, we get this:
"In the course of (yesterday), Barney Frank, (has) masterfully, engaged in discussions about the auto package, which we will hear from him about. I am pleased with the progress that's been made. We don't -- unless he does -- in the next few minutes have an announcement to make."
First, that was yesterday, and we still have nothing workable to discuss. But more importantly, those were some inspiring and confidence-building comments don't you think?. In other words she said, uh, nothing; aside from suggesting that whatever happens, it'll be Barney Frank's fault. But to additionally pour salt on the wound she offered this:
"...the auto CEOs know that we are willing to give them a chance to restructure and turn themselves viable, accountable to the taxpayer. As long as that is the path, we have a place to monitor it and support it. But again, if that is not the path, we are not going to be engaged in corporate welfare, and they will not succeed."
Leaving the doctrinal reversal associated with One Minute Management, aside, a veiled threat is not good for anybody in the event. And I'm baffled by this attitude, since this is the same woman who created the final bill that created the sub-prime mortgage bailout, allowing us to experience her "management leadership," as they picked our pockets to the tune of nearly one trillion dollars, in the "Big Financial Company Give Away of 2008." In this case, all the auto companies are asking for is, in effect, commercial bridge funding, rather than the previous taxpayer-leveraged economic grant. And, furthermore, the companies are clearly willing to accept particularly odious operating constraints, to get what they need to keep the lights on. So what's the problem here, and why get nasty about it?
Win or lose, Pelosi, and those who follow her thinking, are the wrong tools to judge anything, let alone the efficacy of today's American automotive economy. Whether it's the emergence of new designs, production processes, supply-chain collaborations, and speed of action - the current clutch of old school politicians need to be put out to pasture, because they simply don't get what's going on in today's America. Nonetheless, they've got the power and the money on their side, so until the off-year elections come around, we're just going to have to eat Che' Pelosi's "flavor of the month," and try to survive the cooking.