Holding out hope that Obama's victory and McCain's gracious concession signaled that maybe just maybe we'd actually experience a month of two of bipartisanship at least on major issues led me to hold my tongue, er, fingers on the real reason that the Detroit rescue plan got shot down in the Senate.
Thankfully, The New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman took the words right out of my mouth and thus has shamed me into stating right here why I think the Grand Old Party's leaders in the United States Senate quashed the federal loans to the Big Three: Grand old union-busting. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Krugman wasn't even writing about Detroit (he was remarking on German politics of all things), but still he managed to lay out this gem: "No, I’m not talking about Bob Corker, the Senator from Nissan — I mean Tennessee — and his fellow Republicans, who torpedoed last week’s attempt to buy some time for the U.S. auto industry. (Why was the plan blocked? An e-mail message circulated among Senate Republicans declared that denying the auto industry a loan was an opportunity for Republicans to 'take their first shot against organized labor.')"
They said it-- not me and not Krugman. But geez, come on. Attack organizer labor? Is it the 1920s or nearly 2009? No wonder their Party is doing about as well nationally as the Big Three's gas guzzling SUVs.
If you ask me Sens. Corker, McConnell (who in November barely won re-election in his red state by the by) and friends could all stand to use a history lesson on how the wages that rose steadily over decades earned by unionized workers in all sorts of industries was the major factor in creating the rock-solid middle class that until recently served as the backbone of our economy-- not to mention, at least in my humble opinion, providing much of the stiffener in our collective moral fiber. too.
Yup, Big Labor got too big for its britches just as Big Business and Big Government did in so many ways. Still, that doesn't mean what is left of trade unionism in this land of the free needs stamping out by a herd of elephants or any other political force.
I have heard it said many a time that even though the car plants in this country run by foreign-owned firms pay their workers less than Detroit, the reality is they don't pay them THAT much less. If they did, their workers would be being organized even as I furiously type this. Where on earth did the unions come from in the first place? They rose in response to the horrible treatment and virtually slave wages industrial workers in this country once endured. If you don't believe me, go look it up in a history book.
UAW workers on "sit-down strike" against GM in 1937
To be sure, don't listen to Krugman and me. After all something tells me both of us could be plastered with the Pinko label in a heartbeat by right-thinkin' Americans all over this land of the free that that so many of our fellow citizens-- including everyone from card-carrying union men and women to businesspersons of all types-- fought and died for in so many wars right up to the two being waged right now.
Nope, nope, why not listen to that darling of the right, yet another op-ed columnist for the Times-- the one and only William Kristol?
Here is what he had to say on the whole save Detroit thing the very same day as Krugman:
"Last week, Senate Republicans picked a fight with the U.A.W. on union pay scales — despite the fact that it’s the legacy benefits for retirees, not pay for current workers, that’s really hurting Detroit, and despite the additional fact that, in any case, labor amounts to only about 10% of the cost of a car. But the Republicans were fighting Big Labor! They were standing firm against bailouts! Some of the same conservatives who (correctly, in my view) made the case for $700 billion for Wall Street pitched a fit over $14 billion in loans for the automakers.
"So Senate Republicans chose to threaten to filibuster the House-passed legislation embodying the George Bush-Nancy Pelosi deal," continued Wild Bill. "The bill would have allowed President Bush to name a car czar, who could have begun to force concessions from all sides. It also would have averted for now a collapse of the auto industry, and shifted difficult decisions to the Obama administration.
"Instead, Bush will now probably have to use the financial rescue funds to save G.M. — instead of being able to draw from sums previously authorized for the green transformation of the auto industry, a fight he had won in the negotiations with Pelosi," he went on. "And Senate Republicans now run the risk of being portrayed as Marie Antoinettes with Southern accents."
Thanks, Bill. Now I feel not only extra-vindicated, but not the least bit like a Red for holding my viewpoint! However, I still must wonder whether those GOP warhorses in the Senate still fighting the political wars of years and years ago even paused for a moment to think about who all were those voters who turned so many red states blue with their votes for Obama before they decided to throw GM, Chrysler and maybe also Ford-- and all their many workers-- under the bus?
Union-busting did not work in the last century and it won't work now. Moreover, why should it?