The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research announced recently that the current recession started in December 2007. Horrible auto sales figures dragged November retail sales down for a record fifth consecutive month. This is seen as confirmation that the current recession is catching up with the buying public, who can't or won't make major purchases.
This fact clearly escapes the Senate Republicans, who are accused by AutoWeek of "looking for something — anything — to kill this deal." Senator Bob Corker claimed "union resistance to wage cuts" killed the bill, but United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger argued on WJR-AM's The Paul W. Smith Show that the Senate Republicans weren't just anti-union, but were also "anti-Big Three." Gettelfinger pointed out that if UAW members were "working for nothing" it would not save GM from bankruptcy. Gettelfinger also added that the proposed legislation had been agreed to by the White House, which remains in Republican hands for now. This indicates even more how little respect there is for George W. Bush, especially within his own party.
Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm accused Senate Republicans of ignoring the livelihood of three million American workers, choosing instead to "drive the American manufacturing industry — and perhaps the American economy — into the ground." Big Three CEOs have testified that the auto industry accounts for one in ten jobs in the US. GM, Chrysler, and Ford employ around 250,000 people directly, with their shared supply chain accounting for the remainder.
The outspoken Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson appeared with Gov. Granholm in the Detroit suburb of Southfield and defined GOP lawmakers in Washington as "ruthless" and declared that "the arsenal of democracy is under attack by the arsenal of hypocrisy."
Odd words coming from a Republican, but we'll take it as it comes.
With so much vocal opposition to the position of the Senate Republicans, President Bush was forced by events to reverse his previous opposition to using TARP funds for the automakers. Maybe he now feels that the economy cannot withstand another major hit due to rising unemployment lest his attempts to improve his legacy be adversely affected. Businesses have already eliminated nearly two million jobs this year alone, and some economists predict it could reach three million by 2010. This could cause people to remember who was the real destroyer of the middle class when the GOP goes after Obama in 2010.