Republicans seek to break U.S. labor

Published 11:02 am Friday, November 21, 2008

You might not be a supporter of all things that begin with the word “Bailout.” Most people are not.

But after a decade of fictional rules that let the American banking industry become a bigger gamble than Vegas, that house of cards fell not only on us, but around the planet. And now we are stuck dealing with the ripples of that continuing fiasco.

Keep in mind what happened with the financial industry. While creating exciting new ways to avoid and ignore regulation and lend money for kids to buy cap guns with no down payment, the leaders of that industry, which produces nothing, filled their pockets, their hands, their shoes and their briefcases with your money before calling for help. And help came.

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Henry Paulson, the Bush administration Treasury secretary told Congress if it only would advance Treasury a mere $700 billion he would see to it that regular people would be able to avoid losing their homes to foreclosure.

This week Mr. Paulson reported that he had not done as he promised. In fact, he had done absolutely nothing to save homeowners from foreclosure … but he was thinking about it a lot. Great.

Now Mr. Paulson wants to hurt American families just a little bit more, by his refusal to allow help to our troubled auto industry. And in his efforts he has the full support of his party, the Republican Party, which opposes all things for the middle class in America.

Now let’s acknowledge that the Big Three auto CEOs are not so much likeable representatives of their industry. They ride into Washington begging for help in private jets, they make salaries and bonuses that should embarrass them and do embarrass us. When asked if he would consider reducing his salary to $1 while getting federal help, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said “I think I’m OK where I am.” Mr. Mulally’s compensation is $21.7 million. Not a very lovable beggar.

But the auto industry did not create all their problems. They are the only producers of cars that pay the burden of insurance for their employees, which adds about 35 percent cost to the average auto worker. In every other auto producing nation, the state pays those costs. Nor are the auto companies responsible for the current lack of available credit to buy cars. That distinction goes to the financial industry collapse. Nor are the auto companies responsible for our weak economy that is killing sales in all consumer products.

In short, our auto industry, which actually produces products and employs lot of American workers, deserves help right now whether we like or hate bail-outs. But Paulson and the Bush administration, with the help of Republican Sen. Bond want to trick the American people into believing they will help the industry, while actually standing aside and hoping GM goes bankrupt.

You see, if the Republicans can allow GM to fall into bankruptcy, then all the labor contracts are voided and all the pension commitments denied. The federal government will pick up the pension plans after cutting those benefits by as much as 70 percent.

Workers, well, their chance at a living wage must fall for the GOP to be happy, so they would have to accept non-union wages and benefits.

So the trick is that Paulson, Bond and Bush support “expediting” the existing $25 billion set aside for the auto industry, money restricted to new product development. They want to claim that by pushing money the industry can’t spend right now on survival, they are saving the industry, all the while pushing it to bankruptcy.

All simply to destroy American labor.