Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stabenow and Peters Talk Bankruptcy on "The Ed Show"

Sen. Debbie Stabenow was on the Ed Show Monday night and Rep. Gary Peters was on last night. They discussed a possible GM bankruptcy, which could jeopardize the pensions of 670,000 retires, with 335,000 seeing benefit cuts.

Both lawmakers agreed that bankruptcy should be a last resort, but Ed characterized Obama's Auto Task Force as throwing workers under the bus when it comes to their pensions. Stabenow had a different perspective:
SCHULTZ: But what about those retirees—senator, I have to ask you, what about these retirees. They didn‘t vote to have their benefits cut. These are your constituents in Michigan.

STABENOW: No question. If you‘re asking me, do I think bankruptcy is a good idea? The answer is absolutely not. I don‘t support bankruptcy as an option. And the reality is that taxpayers shouldn‘t either, because we‘re talking about 670,000 people with pensions with General Motors alone that would become potentially a federal responsibility. [...]

SCHULTZ: -- that if it goes to the Pension Guarantee Corporation, and people have to take a cut, I don‘t know how they are going to be motivated to come back and vote for the Democrats.

STABENOW: Well, first of all, people took a pay cut to get that pension, and they should not be cut in their pensions, period. People took pay cut after pay cut to keep their health care and to keep their pensions. And so there is a way to do this, even going into a bankruptcy.

Northwest Airlines, based out of Detroit substantially, went into bankruptcy, kept their pension obligations. We worked with them to help protect their pensions. They came out of bankruptcy. They kept their pension commitments. So it is possible to do that. And I am strongly urging the administration, whatever happens, to keep those pensions intact, because people have worked hard all of their lives for those.
Bloomberg reports that GM’s plan is in relatively better shape than others, because it’s about 87 percent-funded, but they also point out that as many as half of GM’s 670,000 pension-plan participants could see their benefits trimmed if the PBGC takes over the plan. Jack Dickinson, president of an advocacy group called Over the Hill Car People says, “Nobody really knows” what would happen with GM pensions in a bankruptcy." (The DetNews has more on how bankruptcy could affect workers' pensions.)

One thing struck me in the interview above. Schultz wondered why people would be motivated to vote for Democrats if General Motors files bankruptcy. Is Ed serious? As the Free Press recently pointed out...
Moreover, the government's track record setting policy that affects the auto industry is atrocious. Car companies have been flogged for not producing enough small, efficient vehicles, but the government eschews a national gas tax that would keep demand for such vehicles high. The companies have been derided for exorbitant labor costs, but in too many instances, government trade policy doesn't help them by holding other countries to decent labor standards.
Democrats and Republicans are responsible for that track record, but Republicans have been in control of the White House for the past 8 years and in control of Congress for almost 20 years. They were the ones actively pushing their free trade, anti-tax, kill the unions, drill, baby, drill rhetoric all that time. And when the chips were down last fall and the auto industry needed help, it was Republicans who pulled the plug on the industry and voted no.

If McCain had won the election, I have no doubt GM and Chrysler would be history already and the Republicans and their US Chamber of Commerce cronies would be giving one another high-fives.

And I won't soon forget how Republicans voted on minimum wage, SCHIP, equal pay, etc. They don't even feel we should have universal health care.

A vote for any member of the GOP is a vote against the middle-class, and General Motors filing for bankruptcy won't change how I feel about them. The lawmaker who does the most for the middle-class gets my vote, and the majority of the time that's a Democrat.


Kathy said...

I hope Ed mentions this news on his show tonight. It should tick off Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce (aka the Republicans).

Whether General Motors Corp. or Chrysler LLC file for bankruptcy, the Obama administration wants to protect retiree health care to a greater degree than the debt of banks and bondholders, said a person close to the talks among the parties.That means that while bondholders are being pushed to take pennies on the dollar for their debt, the union remains on track to receive a substantial ownership stake in the automakers if deals can be hammered out.

In return, the UAW would forgive the automakers part of the $30.6 billion they owe the union to start a retiree health care fund that takes huge liabilities off the automakers' books.

abi said...

If McCain had won the election...What a depressing thought. I don't agree with everything Obama's doing, but he's still a breath of fresh air who is trying to make real change. A McCain and (god help us) Palin administration is almost too painful to contemplate.

Yes, GM and Chrysler would be gone by now. Either that or their workers would have to make enough concessions to send them to the poorhouse.

Kathy said...

Abi, it's also scary to comprehend how much attention the press still gives Palin and McCain. Shudder...