Let Republicans filibuster if they choose

Published 12:18 pm Friday, December 12, 2008

The U.S. Senate is debating a financial aid plan for General Motors and Chrysler this week. There is no assurance that the plan will pass amid significant Republican objection to the rescue.

In fact, several Republicans have indicated they may use a filibuster to prevent the passage of the $14 billion dollar aid package. They should filibuster.

In the last two-year session of Congress, Republicans in the Senate conducted 97 “painless” filibusters, where the Senate withdrew voting on issues that could not muster the 60 votes required to end a filibuster.

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Effectively the Republicans close the Senate during this period. Now they propose to continue these tactics, and as the Obama presidency approaches, it is time for them to accept the consequences of their choices. The Senate should require the Republicans to actually conduct the filibuster, that is, to freeze the floor of the Senate with endless speeches.

Let them talk for a day, or a month, or a year if they wish to assert this Senate right.

The Senate Republicans are practicing union busting at the risk of the collapse of our economy. And make no mistake, if the Senate allows one or two of our auto manufacturers to fail because they will not extend the requested loans, then our economy will face consequences unimagined for the next decade.

So give the floor to those who would destroy the American economy rather than allow the auto unions to continue to exist, and let them stand before the nation and lay claim to their dishonor.

The Republicans, who have had no objections to the gift of $350 billion to the financial crooks who robbed the nation and have spoken not a word on behalf of the millions of homeowners who have been ignored in the greatest corporate bailout in history, suddenly cannot tolerate $14 billion in loans to save an American industry.

America created this industry and it affects literally millions of jobs in the nation, for the most part good jobs, with living wages, benefits, and retirement benefits. And this is what the Republicans object to, these good jobs and benefits and pensions. Republicans want the workers pay reduced, the pensions jettisoned, the benefits cut…because they like cheap labor for business more than living wages for working Americans.

Sen. Richard Shelby, Republican from Alabama leads this dishonorable charge, all the while protecting his base of foreign manufacturers in his home state. Manufacturers who located in the South because lower standards of living there allowed them to pay workers less.

Manufacturers who do not have the historic burden of retirees’ costs. Manufacturers who were granted tax free status to locate in the South, while the American manufacturers pay taxes to support our schools and communities.

The Big 3 automakers are guilty; guilty of keeping too many plants open to protect jobs and families. Guilty of paying better wages than their Southern and import competitors; and guilty of assuming responsibility for those who worked a lifetime to earn a good retirement.

Republicans simply oppose Americans earning a living wage, and the companies that support those wages with their commitment to the workers. They prefer lower wages, dumped pensions, cuts in benefits and justifying import products based upon slave labor.

So filibuster away Republicans … stand before the nation and destroy one of the last great American industries. Do this and your next convention can be held in a hotel lobby and your exile will require you to re-name your party to the NWAE for never win another election.

Do your worst … just take credit for your acts.