The bailout binge continues apace. I’ve pointed out to you already that both Barack Obama and John McCain support the $25 billion automakers’ bailout. It’s speeding through Congress as we speak. President Bush will sign it this week after both parties fall in line and pass it (vote is expected in the House tonight).
Detroit Free Press reports:
Michigan lawmakers hailed the imminent passage of $25 billion in loans for the U.S. auto industry on Wednesday as a key step toward saving thousands of jobs in the state, and vowed to press for an additional $25 billion to boost the industry’s retooling.
Under the bill expected to pass the House this evening, the Bush administration will have two months to write the rules for the loans, and Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow said she expected the money to begin flowing to automakers and parts suppliers by the end of the year.
“There is no bigger issue for Michigan than what we’re accomplishing today,” said Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph. “This is a testament to the strengths of every member.”
The clause speeding the loans should ease concerns of some automakers and parts suppliers that the money would not be available for several months. Officials said the U.S. Department of Energy had told them it would take a year to write the rules for the loans.
While lawmakers did not win changes that would have let companies use the loans on a broader array of projects, they said they would closely monitor the program and press for changes if the loans did not flow freely. The industry had asked for up to $50 billion over three years, but eased off after the idea met strong resistance.
“We’ve got the best deal for the industry that we can,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn. “I think we got that which they need to go forward.”
God save us from bipartisanship:
After the push ramped up in August – and the automakers doubled their bid to $50 billion – critics attacked the proposal as a unnecessary bailout for uncompetitive companies. Yet as Wall Street’s problems worsened, and the Bush administration escalated its rescue efforts into a $700 billion bailout, the auto industry’s request came to be seen as a small step to help an industry with blue-collar roots.
Lawmakers said the support of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — whose backing was brokered in part by Upton and other Michigan Republicans — was key to getting the loans paid for.
The industry had warned that because the loans could only apply to vehicles that were 25% more efficient than direct competitors, few new models would qualify. Those rules still apply, as do restrictions limiting the loans to covering no more than 30% of the costs for a single project.
“It’s been a struggle here in Washington to secure an acknowledgment that a domestic-based auto industry is vital for America,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak. “What this does is to embody that idea, and to help it continue to be.”
The loans were included in a budget resolution that held several other spending measures to keep the government open through March. The Senate was expected to pass the bill on Thursday, and the measure should get a signature from President Bush shortly thereafter.
What was that I wrote last week? Oh, yeah: Death of fiscal conservatism, R.I.P.
The road to serfdom is paved with ever more “investments” to secure “stability” in the marketplace.
As I’ve noted from the start of stimuluspalooza over a year ago, this ain’t the first one and it won’t be the last one. (Funny how you’ve heard almost nothing about the Washington Times report I blogged about yesterday on the addition of student loans and car loans to the bank bailout).
If you’re one of the foolish people out there still paying your bills on time, you might want to reconsider your responsible ways.
Got debt? The government’s got your back.
The rest of us are screwed.