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Obama’s Auto Plan Gets Mixed Reviews on Capitol Hill

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Susan Davis reports on politics.  From the Washington Wire.

Reactions are mixed to President Barack Obama’s announcement that General Motors and Chrysler were operating under tight deadlines to come up with viable restructuring plans in order to receive future government assistance. (For more, read this story.)
Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, who has been perhaps the industry’s strongest ally in Congress, said the president’s announcement will allow the auto industry to re-emerge as a leader of American industry.
“I share the President’s confidence in GM and Chrysler and will go even further and state that I steadfastly believe that both companies are on the verge of emerging from this dark period as industry leaders once again in sales, fuel economy, safety and customer satisfaction,” he said in a statement.
Dingell likewise praised GM chief Rick Wagoner, who was forced out of the top job, as a “decent man” and said his exit marks a fresh start for the ailing auto giant. Dingell reiterated the view that GM’s future is more discernibly viable than Chrysler, which is working on a deal with Italy’s Fiat SpA.
Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who has played a key role on recent legislation aiding the auto industry, however, strongly criticized the ousting of Wagoner as a “sideshow” used as a distraction to deflect criticism of the White House. “The administration is hoping the media and the public will stay focused on Wagoner and fail to notice that negotiations have not progressed since December,” Corker said in a statement condemning the federal government’s intervention in the private sector.
“With sweeping new power the White House will be deciding which plants will survive and which won’t, so in essence, this administration has decided they know better than our courts and our free market process how to deal with these companies,” he continued. “It’s been a long time since Washington has seen the kind of kowtowing that’s about to occur among members of Congress” vying to keep their home state plants open, he said.
California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, echoed Dingell in praising the plan and deeming it necessary to help the economy. “President Obama has struck the right chord in seeking balance between supporting the American auto industry and calling for a much-needed restructuring of GM and Chrysler,” he said. “It has become abundantly clear that in order to remain viable and competitive, these companies must re-organize, revamp and restructure.”

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