Maytag’s board of directors is reviewing the buy-out offers from its competitor, Whirlpool, and from a New York investment firm. Governor Tom Vilsack says Maytag’s situation highlights the need for federal officials to respond to the nation’s changing industrial economy. “This is a symptom of a much larger problem that this country has to face,” Vilsack says. “Iowa and some other states are trying to address this on a state-by-state basis, but it begs, I think, for a national response.” Vilsack, who is not seeking reelection as governor and is mulling the idea of running for president, says President Bush and Congress need to review a checklist. “Do we have an adequate safety net for those negatively impacted by trade and foreign competition? Is 26 weeks of unemployment enough? Are there other things we ought to be doing in terms of training?” Vilsack asks. “Secondly, what is the plan nationally for creating a different American economy that doesn’t put us in this kind of situation as frequently as it has in the recent past?” Vilsack talked (Thursday) with officials from Ripplewood, the New York investment group that bid for Maytag. “We continue to receive assurances from the Ripplewood folks that they are conscious of the importance that Maytag has in the Newton community and are anxious to do…what they can do in order to preserve jobs and opportunity at Newton,” Vilsack says. Vilsack suggested the Whirlpool offer would let Whirlpool acquire 50 percent of the U.S. appliance market, creating an illegal monopoly that would be struck down either in the courts or by federal regulators.
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