Thursday, December 11, 2008

Senate Rejects Auto Industry Bailout

DOW futures are currently down 300 points...

Unfortunately doing the right thing is sometimes hard. We have bankruptcy procedures for a reason. The problems with the automakers can be traced all the way back to the original Chrysler bailout. Had they been allowed to fail, had the markets been allowed to correct fully without stimulus, stimulus, and still more stimulus, then we would not be where we are today.
Senate Rejects Auto Industry Bailout After Talks Fail

By Nicholas Johnston and John Hughes

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The Senate rejected a $14 billion bailout plan for U.S. automakers, in effect ending congressional efforts to aid General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which may run out of cash early next year.

“I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow,” Majority Leader Harry Reid said before the vote in Washington. “It’s not going to be a pleasant sight.”

The Bush administration will “evaluate our options in light of the breakdown in Congress,” spokesman Tony Fratto said.

The Senate thwarted the bailout plan when a bid to cut off debate on the bill the House passed yesterday fell short of the required 60 votes. The vote on ending the debate was 52 in favor, 35 against. Earlier, negotiations on an alternate bailout plan failed.

GM said in a statement, “We are deeply disappointed that agreement could not be reached tonight in the Senate despite the best bipartisan efforts. We will assess all of our options to continue our restructuring and to obtain the means to weather the current economic crisis.”

Reid said millions of Americans, “not only the autoworkers, but people who sell cars, car dealerships, people who work on cars,” will be affected. “It’s going to be a very, very bad Christmas for a lot of people as a result of what takes place here tonight.”

Asian stocks and U.S. index futures immediately began falling after Reid’s comments. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slumped 2.2 percent to 86.13 as of 12:33 p.m. Tokyo time, while March futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 3.4 percent.

‘Deja Vu’

“Remember when the first financial bailout bill failed” in Congress in late September, said Martin Marnick, head of equity trading at Helmsman Global Trading Ltd. in Hong Kong. “The markets in Asia started the slide. Deja vu, this looks like it’s happening again.” Congress approved a financial-rescue plan weeks later.

Senator George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, urged the Bush administration to save the automakers by tapping the $700 billion bailout fund approved earlier this year for the financial industry.

“If this is the end, then I think they have to step in and do it -- it’s needed even though they don’t want to do it,” Voinovich said.

Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd, who helped lead the negotiations, said the final unresolved issue was a Republican demand that unionized autoworkers accept a reduction in wages next year, rather than later, to match those of U.S. autoworkers who work for foreign-owned companies, such as Toyota Motor Corp.


“More than saddened, I’m worried this evening about what we’re doing with an iconic industry,” Dodd said. “In the midst of deeply troubling economic times we are going to add to that substantially.”

Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee, who negotiated with Dodd, said, “I think there’s still a way to make this happen.”

Earlier today, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino warned that an agreement was necessary for the U.S. economy.

“We believe the economy is in such a weakened state right now that adding another possible loss of 1 million jobs is just something” it cannot “sustain at the moment,” Perino said.

Also earlier, South Dakota Republican John Thune suggested that if talks collapsed, the Bush administration might aid automakers with funds from the financial-rescue plan approved by Congress in October.

“I think that is where they go next,” Thune said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they explore all options.” The Bush administration thus far has opposed that option, which was favored by Democrats.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicholas Johnston in Washington at njohnston3@bloomberg.netJohn Hughes in Washington at