The Press Reporters on Local Legislators’ Reactions to Big 3 Bailout

Yesterday, The Grand Rapids Press reported on area legislators’ positions on a proposed bailout of the “Big 3” automakers. Unfortunately, the article contained no labor or independent perspectives.

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Yesterday, the Grand Rapids Press published a story on the positions of Representatives Vern Ehlers, Fred Upton, and Peter Hoekstra on the proposed taxpayer bailout of the US auto industry.

The story quotes each of these lawmakers with Ehlers and Upton in full support of the proposed auto industry bailout. Ehlers–in response to the current economic crisis facing GM–said “By and large, it would have a disastrous impact on Michigan if GM goes belly-up.” Upton also supports the bailout by stating, “If we can spend $150 billion on AIG, we can do it to maintain a manufacturing base.” Second Congressional District Representative Peter Hoekstra isn’t as convinced and wants to see some conditions on the bailout before he supports it. Hoekstra said, “Their (the auto industry) union relations still puts them at an advantage to other people who build cars in the US.”

Nowhere in the Press article does the reporter ask what the lawmakers’ relationships are to the auto industry and whether or not that would influence their position on the bailout.

In looking at the data provided on the Center for Responsive Politics, it seems clear that each of the three Michigan Representative cited in the story would support the bailout of the auto industry, since each have received a sizeable amount of money from the auto industry. Congressman Ehlers has received $95,130 from the auto industry, making the auto industry the seventh largest donor to Ehlers during his career in Congress. Hoekstra has received $81,315 and Fred Upton $303,730 from the auto industry. In fact, during the last election cycle <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/mems.php&quot;?the auto industry gave $8,699,799 to presidential and congressional candidates, with a larger share going to Democratic candidates.

The Press attempted to contact Michigan Senator Carl Levin for his response but was unable to do so. However, Levin has a short statement posted on his website which suggests he supports the auto industry bailout. “I am confident that there will be bipartisan support for legislation to support the U.S. auto industry, beginning with my co-chair of the Senate Auto Caucus, Senator George Voinovich of Ohio.” It is not surprising at some level that Levin would be in favor of the bailout since he has received $432,904 from the auto industry during his years in the Senate.

Unfortunately, there are no opinions or perspectives from autoworkers in the Grand Rapids Press article. The UAW seems to be clearly behind a government bailout, stating “Make no mistake: The domestic auto industry cannot succeed in today’s unstable economic environment without immediate help from the federal government.”

There are also no perspectives provided by taxpayers on this issue or any independent perspectives such as that of writer Lee Sustar who thinks that the auto industry should be run by workers, especially since management of the Big Three auto companies are the ones responsible for the current crisis:

“GM, Chrysler and Ford kept pushing SUVs and pickup trucks that were profitable in the 1990s and resisted pressure for higher standards on fuel efficiency. As a result, the companies are still hemorrhaging money even after eliminating an estimated 100,000 jobs since 2006 and extracting tens of billions more in concessions from the UAW.”

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org

3 thoughts on “The Press Reporters on Local Legislators’ Reactions to Big 3 Bailout”

  1. In the case of the auto-makers’ bailout, it’s a relief to have a national issue that is so straightforward: American cars tend to break down and fall apart therefore people have stopped buying them. If GM and Ford don’t want to go out of business, they should start making decent cars. To bail them out would be to reward their terrible manufacturing standards.

  2. How do you account for Hoekstra’s opposition? It seems like you are arguing that all 3 should support a bailout cuz they receive money from the automakers. Yet Hoekstra has received a lot of money and he is still opposed to it.

  3. John, I was trying to point out that the difference with Hoekstra is that he supports the bailout on the condition that the UAW/auto unions will have less power. Hoekstra doesn’t object the giving taxpayer money to the auto industry he just wants to have language in the bailout agreement that will take away power from the unions.

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