Virtually as soon as the Obama administration began, it landed two distinct blows on the American automotive manufacturing industry.
First was the unconstitutional forced restructuring of GM and Chrysler. A proper bankruptcy would have spread the pain equally among current and former employees, stockholders, and vendors. To pay off its allies in the UAW, the administration forced a non-bankruptcy restructuring on both, closing down some 3,000 auto dealers, weakening or destroying thousands of vendors by defaulting on their receivables, cheating bondholders, arranging a fraudulent stock swap that had the taxpayer absorb the majority of losses, and utterly avoiding the desperately needed reforms to their contractual compensation and pension plans.
This was welcomed by the UAW, as they thought it saved both their jobs and their benefits, but now they’re beginning to realize that, since it didn’t strengthen their employers, it’s all just made their long-term future even more tenuous than it was in 2008…especially the employees of Chrysler, which the Obama administration forced into acquisition by Fiat, the official auto company of one of Europe’s most bankrupt economies.
The auto workers of America are, after all, still dependent for their salaries and benefits upon strong employer financials, and upon a strong stock market in which their pensions are invested. All these are suffering as ObamaCare and other increases in taxes and regulations take their toll on the American business climate.
The second punch in 2009 was the notorious Cash for Clunkers program, a peculiar grant program in which the federal government gave people four or five thousand dollars to destroy their old cars and buy new, more fuel-efficient ones.
While that sounded like a costly and foolish but relatively harmless program at first, its results were soon proven to be disastrous indeed. Hundreds of thousands of people who had never considered anything but an American car were now paid by their government to destroy their American cars and buy little Japanese and Korean ones instead. People who were the core of Detroit’s clientele — derisively referring to foreign econoboxes with the pejorative “rice-burners” for generations — were now paid by their own government to overcome that prejudice and buy foreign.
In addition, by removing hundreds of thousands of used cars from the roads (a condition of the deal was the destruction of the old car), the program raised the cost of other used cars for lower-income car-buyers, while dealing a fatal blow to many auto repair businesses dependent on used cars for service. In a normal recession, the Midases and Merlins and Car-Xs of the world prosper, because people take care of their old cars longer due to their inability to buy new ones. The Cash for Clunkers project chose to sacrifice the used car market and its service industry, in exchange for…what? A tiny blip in new car sales, the vast majority being Asian imports. Amazing.
At every level, the Democratic Party — not just the Obama administration, but their congressional leadership and the green front groups that they’ve spawned throughout the land — assaults everyone involved in transportation on a daily basis. Their willful choices have raised the cost of fuel, hammered our manufacturing sector, made work more costly, and rendered vacationing prohibitive.
And all this is without even considering the other tangential effects of their policies. The excessive importation of oil wreaks havoc on our currency, our foreign policy, our investments. The ARRA “stimulus” doubled the cost of federal highway repairs, through Davis-Bacon-style labor requirements, providing half as many repairs as the money should have produced. And the Obama recession leaves cities, counties, and states too strapped for upkeep of their own existing roadways, let alone for building new ones, driving up toll and tax rates. With every misstep, they make driving more painful, dangerous, and costly for everyone.
How can anyone in transportation still vote Democrat? Only by shutting one’s eyes to reality.