The GOP Bungles the Auto Bailout

Republicans shouldn't be hung up on how much factory workers get paid.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The GOP clearly isn't happy with its popularity ratings in the tank. They threaten to send the Grand Old Party spiraling down into political Middle Earth. At least that's the impression Senate leaders are making by killing the Big Three auto bailout.

It's quite understandable to want to spare taxpayers the financial burden of the bailout. But wait until GOP leaders feel the sting of killing up to 2 million jobs, hearing from constituents who can no longer find parts for their Chevys or Cadillacs, and worst yet, the prospect that the United States may no longer have a domestic auto industry.

Democrats played this one perfectly. They scaled down the size of the bailout from its original request of $35 billion to a much more manageable $14 billion. But Republicans hung up negotiations over pay for factory workers:

The collapse came after bipartisan talks on the auto rescue broke down over GOP demands that the United Auto Workers union agree to steep wage cuts by 2009 to bring their pay into line with Japanese carmakers.

Clearly there was room for compromise in there somewhere. But grandstanding Republicans chose politics over practicality. This despite the fact they received an overwhelming message from voters last month telling this is not how they want Congress to act.

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