Iowa delegation splits on Detroit bailout

The three Democrats in Iowa's congressional delegation (Congressmen Bruce Braley of Waterloo, Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon & Leonard Boswell of Des Moines) voted for the bailout destined for Chrysler and General Motors.  The two Republicans in Iowa's congressional delegation (Congressmen Tom Latham of Ames & Steve King of Kiron) voted against it.

Four Iowa congressmen (all but Boswell) issued statements last night.  Read them below:

Latham Reaction to Auto Industry Bailout

Regarding the congressional vote on the U.S. auto industry bailout, Iowa Congressman Tom Latham had the following reaction:

"I am deeply concerned about the health of our nation's auto industry and the impact it has upon American workers and communities. There is no doubt that this industry plays a key role in our national economy and a key role in the livelihoods of many of my constituents and neighbors in Iowa. Nevertheless, just as the bailout of Wall Street has failed, another poorly crafted bailout plan will not truly solve the ills of the auto industry. This bailout bill would take the power to formulate long-term solutions for the problems facing the auto industry from those who are most familiar with the industry and put it in the hands of a Washington bureaucrat. American taxpayers should not be responsible for the failure of Detroit's poor business model. This bailout is unfair to American taxpayers and I have no confidence that it will help the auto industry back on track."


WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Steve King made the following statement today after voting against a taxpayer-funded bailout package for the “Big Three” domestic auto manufacturers.
“Today the House was given the opportunity to push for major reform of poorly-managed automakers and the UAW, but, instead, the House chose to kick the can down the road. Under Speaker Pelosi’s leadership, the House voted to pick up the tab for overpriced labor and managerial mistakes without meaningful concessions from either. The very business practices and labor agreements that led to this situation remain in place.

“This bailout tells the Big Three and auto unions that taxpayers are willing to pay for Detroit’s poor decisions for several more months. What is going to change over the next few months? Other than more government intervention in the private sector, nothing will be different, and this same crew will be back on Capitol Hill asking Congress for more of your taxpayer money.

“Without any concessions from automakers or the UAW, this bailout package sends a dangerous message that taxpayers will bail out any industry deemed too big to be allowed to fail. This looks like the beginning of an historic level of market socialism in America. I am extremely disappointed that liberals like Pelosi and Reid failed to press the Big Three and the UAW to put some skin in the game and make real concessions.”

In Iowa, Almost 34,000 Jobs Are Impacted By the Auto Industry

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Dave Loebsack joined a bipartisan majority of his colleagues in supporting H.R. 7321, the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act.  This legislation provides up to $15 billion in short-term bridge loans to American auto manufactures who agree to comply with strict regulations, adhere to comprehensive oversight, and commit to innovation and efficiency.

“The failure of the American automobile industry could jeopardize millions of jobs and have a devastating impact on our already struggling economy, especially here at home on Main Street,” said Congressman Loebsack.  “Today I joined a bipartisan majority of my colleagues to support a responsible assistance package for American automakers that requires these companies and their employees to overhaul their operations to ensure long-term viability while adhering to rigorous oversight.”

As our families, small businesses, and communities continue to feel the painful reality of this economic recession, Congressman Loebsack is working with his colleagues to protect current jobs, create new jobs, and help families struggling most during these difficult times.  The Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act is one part of this ongoing bipartisan effort in Congress because one in 10 American jobs is linked to the domestic auto industry, and it is a key pillar in  an American manufacturing  sector critical to our national security and economic competitiveness for decades to come.

The legislation passed today in the House of Representatives contains the following measures to ensure strict accountability to American Taxpayers:

 The Selection Of A Car Czar – The President will designate one or more individuals to hold the car companies accountable for developing and implementing viable long-term restructuring plans and ensure compliance on financing efforts.

 Taxpayer Protections – The government will get warrants for stock to allow taxpayers to profit from the companies’ recovery.  The structure of the federal bridge loans puts taxpayers ahead of all other lenders for repayment.

 No Dividends Paid – Over the life of the loans, shareholders will not earn dividends.

 Bans on Corporate Excess – No ‘golden parachutes,’ no bonuses for the 25 most highly paid employees at each company, and no corporate aircrafts, with requirements to sell or end leases on any existing aircraft.

 Strong Independent Oversight – The Government Accountability Office and the Special Inspector General overseeing the TARP financial rescue funds will both have oversight powers.

 Shared Sacrifice – auto executives, employees, labor unions, dealers, suppliers, creditors, and shareholders must all participate in the restructuring efforts.

 Commitment to Restructuring – to ensure the companies restructure to achieve viability, international competitiveness, fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions the Car Czar can require immediate repayment of the loan if the company has not made adequate progress by February 15th to develop a long-term restructuring plan.

Braley Supports Plan to Shore Up Auto Industry

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement today after voting in favor of a plan to shore up the ailing auto industry:

“My decision to support this legislation is a decision to protect American jobs.  I believe extending these bridge loans to the auto industry is necessary to prevent a bad recession from growing worse.  The ripple effect of auto companies’ bankruptcies would be enormous.  From small-town Iowa dealerships to suppliers and beyond, thousands of jobs in Iowa and this country depend on the auto industry’s financial health. 

“Our domestic auto industry has a long way to go to restore their competitiveness and the American people’s confidence.  This legislation is a first step to help transform the Big Three into world leaders in innovation and energy efficiency.  That being said, I’ll be working in the coming months to provide oversight of this program to make sure taxpayer money is used wisely.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.