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Hullabaloo


Friday, November 21, 2008

 
Half The Battle Is Showing Up

By digby

Following up on my post earlier, here's a video from yesterday: when asked why the congress was avoiding its responsibility and kicking the can down the road on the crisis in the auto industry, Harry Reid said:

What kind of a message are we sending the American people by having a bunch of failed votes here? We do not have the votes. What happened here this week in Washington has not been good for the auto industry. I know it wasn't planned but these guys landing here in their corporate jets does not send a good message to people in Searchlight Nevada or Las Vegas or Reno or anyplace else in this country.

Oh please. We're not going to figure out a way to forestall the horrifying meltdown of the auto industry and potentially throw millions of people out of work because of some trumped up PR problem? Fine -- structure a deal where the CEOs all have to march through the streets of Detroit in their underwear singing "Whistle While You Work," whatever. But don't say that you have to throw in the towel because you don't have the votes over some trivial bullshit when the fact is that you and the white house are at loggerheads about what account the money should be withdrawn from. Here's a clue --- that's paper work. Nobody cares about that -- it's all taxpayer money, no matter which little designated pile it comes from.

But people are going to care quite a bit if the country goes into a depression. This is fiddling while Detroit burns.

And by the way, here's how people who listen to talk radio are going to think about this:

Rush's Advice for the Big Three, Dems Who Caused Dow Crash

RUSH: I have some questions. You know, Pelosi, Reid, that crowd, they sent the auto execs home yesterday and they said, "You come back with a plan. We don't have the votes and you're not going to make us look bad. It sends a bad signal to the American people. We don't have the votes. So you come back with a plan. You tell us what you want for the $25 billion." Okay, I have some questions for the people like Pelosi and Reid and these other liberal hacks, just tough questions for you to ponder. With gasoline prices now under two bucks in most places and dropping, and the price of oil (I checked it right before the program) below $50 now ($49 a barrel it was earlier today.) So with the gas price under two bucks and oil plummeting, what would you say, Pelosi and Reid, if the car companies could become profitable by selling SUVs or go broke by turning out the green cars that you're going to demand they make? What would you say, Pelosi and Reid, if the best auto executive in the world could come in and fix the Detroit problem but he demands a hundred million dollars a year in income? Would you insist that they hire somebody who has no clue what they're doing and earns less than $400,000?

If the auto executives came back to you and say that they can turn profits if they tear up all existing labor -- this is what I wish they'd do, I wish Nardelli and Wagoner and Mulally would come back and say, "You want our idea? You want know to know what we need to succeed? Fine. We need to tear up all our existing labor contracts. We need to eliminate all these CAFE standards that you placed on manufacturing. That's what we need; that's what we need to do. We can turn this business around if you get the shackles off of us." What would they say? You know damn well what they would say. They'd say, "Screw you, because we're going to run the auto business now." Barney Frank is going to say it -- and I have another question for these liberals. You've been attacking the Big Three auto companies all of your political careers. Why are you defending them now? You've been attacking them, you have been making them out to be the enemy just like Wal-Mart's the enemy, just like Big Drug is the enemy. Big Oil is the enemy. Anything big corporate has been the enemy of Ted Kennedy on down. Now, all of a sudden, you find a need after you've had your role -- and let's make no mistake about this. Congress has had a role in destroying these companies, or harming them greatly, and now all of a sudden you want to defend 'em? Why? Why are you defending these companies that you told everybody else were evil?
There is no point in avoiding fights over important things. There will always be people like Rush out there with big microphones who will tell the American people incoherent nonsense like this and sway many of them, no matter what you do. The right wing, including the ghost administration that now resides in the white house, wants the Big Three to fail and they want it to fail because they hate unions, they hate environmental laws and they hate safety regulations and they are eager to blame all the pain to come on those things. They will happily put millions of people out of work if that's what it takes to "prove" their point.

The Democrats need to realize right now that they do not have partners in dealing with this economic crisis. And they are going to have a lot of trouble keeping the American people on board with all the things that have to be done because it goes against everything they've heard for the last 30 years. And while the right won't help solve any problems, it will continue to hammer home its soothing, familiar lies over and over again to counter everything the Democrats need to do. There is a lot of work to be done right now --- political work and governing work. They can't just sit on the sidelines waiting for Obama to wave his magic wand and make it all magically go away.

Reid is wrong. The message they would be sending to the American people if they stayed on the job and fought this out, even if they had failed vote after failed vote, would be that they take this situation seriously and are trying to fix it. They go home and the only people talking about this are Rush and his army of evil yakkers.

Scarecrow over at FDL wrote this earlier:

Dean Baker, whose earlier excellent post provides a compelling argument for a bridge loan to the auto industry, reminds us (via TPM) that the economy needs much more to keep a likely deep recession from becoming another depression.

Baker's plea joins those we've seen from Paul Krugman and Nouriel Roubini (video at right -- h/t Stoller) as well as 375 other economists signing a letter organized by the Center for Economic Policy Research. From Dean Baker:

We know how to keep the economy from collapsing. We didn't have this information 80 years ago. The secret is to spend money, lots of it.

CEPR just circulated a letter that garnered 375 economists' signatures arguing for a stimulus between $300 billion and $450 billion. This might be too small given all the bad news that we are seeing. We may need to spend $500 billion or $600 billion a year to get the economy back on its feet, possibly more. The key point is that we can get the economy back on its feet; we just have to spend the money to do it.

So where are Congress and the Administration? Despite the growing economist consensus on what needs to be done, Thursday Congress was able only to pass a narrow bill extending unemployment benefits a few more weeks. The President says he'll sign the bill.

That's good, but this effort, while undoubtedly worthwhile, is trivial compared to what the country needs.


no kidding.

I get the feeling that a lot of people (not Scarecrow obviously) still don't quite get just what serious deep shit we are in right now. Here's Roubini, who is not known for his sunny outlook to be sure, but who has also called this one down the line:



Our congress can't kick the can down the road. Some of this stuff can't wait until after we have a new president and people have a right to expect that their government is at least showing up to work. What are they thinking?"