Congressman Steve King says the government cannot afford to bailout every struggling sector of the economy and he’s likely to vote against the proposed bailout for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.
"It becomes inevitable that either the government own and manage these auto manufacturers or they reform so they can compete in this environment — one or the other — and I do not want the socialization of industry in America," King says. "I think then we give up so much a part of our free enterprise that we will never become again a viable economic force."
King, who’s a Republican, says neither the executives of the "Big Three" automakers nor leaders of the United Auto Workers union have committed to any "meaningful reforms," and giving them billions in taxpayer dollars without serious concessions is "like giving an irresponsible teenager a credit card."
"We are going to get the most concessions now that we’re likely to get and after the first of the year when the new congress is seated and a new president is sworn in there, will be many more defenders of the union and apologists for the very highly-paid United Auto Workers and on top of that people that are not as willing to demand concessions — I don’t think — out of the management team of the ‘Big Three,’" King says, "so this is the best chance we have to get the best deal we can get and I don’t think it’s even close right now."
King says there’s no reason American taxpayers should have to pick up the tab for managerial mistakes. King also maintains the union contracts need to be renegotiated because both pay and benefits are too high.
"They can’t compete with foreign manufacturers," King says, "and if we don’t fix that and fix it now, there isn’t going to be a fix the other side of the first of the year and it becomes good money after bad."
Congress could vote sometime today on a Detroit bailout, and it’s likely to include appointment of a national "car czar" — something King ridicules. King, however, says he’s concerned about having American automakers go into bankruptcy, so he isn’t ruling out a "yes" vote on the package.
"I’ve pledged to keep an open mind and be able to take a look at the final package," King says. "At this point we don’t have a bill. All we have is what the news media has reported and what is flowing around the capitol here in rumors."
King argues "excess" funds in auto worker pension accounts should be used as collateral for any government loan.