John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Not on His Watch

Posted on December 19, 2008



            Today, the President basically said that GM wasn’t going to go bankrupt on his watch.


            Congressional Republicans, predictably, are livid.  But I don’t really know what choice the President had.


            Republicans lost the last election.  They lost especially in the Upper Midwest, Northeast, and in the West.  The remaining southern Senators and Representatives seem intent on making this a fight between labor and Republicans, and dragging GM down as a point of personal privilege.


            That many foreign manufacturers happen to have plants in the states of the biggest critics of the GM bailout only complicates the Republican message.  Are they condemning this bailout over ideological principle or are they doing the bidding of German and Japanese manufacturers?


            The idea that car companies should be able to survive on their own, without government help, is certainly not shared by Germany, Japan and Korea, who give considerable help to their domestic car manufacturers.  And the idea that these foreign manufacturers get no help from American taxpayers is also a myth.  They get great incentives to locate in Alabama, South Carolina etc.


            Republicans are blaming Bush for everything now, mostly because his poll numbers are in the ditch.  But Congressional Republicans should look in the mirror and see what role they had in the current state of the Republican Party.


            Does it seem to you that the country really wants a dramatic shift to the right?  Does it seem to you that the American people want the government to do nothing when it comes to creating or keeping jobs?


            Sure, there is great bailout fatigue and I get the frustration that many taxpayers feel.  But arguing forcefully that all American domestic car manufacturers should go out of business doesn’t seem like a smart political strategy to me.  Unless, of course, you have some foreign manufacturers in your back yard.


            In the interests of full disclosure, Ford is one of my clients.  But even if Ford was not one of my clients, I would argue that keeping GM around is a national security imperative for the United States of America.


            Republicans are now saying that they are troubled by the precedent that has been set by the President tapping into the TARP.  No kidding!  That is why they wanted to get a Congressionally approved legislation that included real concessions by labor.  But Republicans scotched that deal, and now the President is forced to tap into the TARP.


            Yes, this action represents a big victory for Big Labor and sets a bad precedent that the next President will use many times over.  But Congressional Republicans have no one to blame but themselves on this one.


            The President did the only thing he could do to keep GM afloat.  GM was not going to go down on his watch.  No way.