Category Archives: GM

>Dubious Distinction

>[UPDATE]:

Thank you, Bob Corker!

GM to temporarily close 20 plants to slash output

General Motors Corp. said Friday it will temporarily close 20 factories across North America and make sweeping cuts to its vehicle production as it tries to adjust to dramatically weaker automobile demand.

[…]

The move affects most of GM’s plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. During the shutdowns, employees will be temporarily laid off and can apply to receive a portion of their normal pay from the company. They can also apply for state unemployment benefits, Lee said.
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ThinkProgress brings us the list du jour: “20 senators who bailed out Wall Street but refused to rescue auto workers.”

Without further ado:

Yes to TARP, No to auto

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Kay Hutchison (R-TX)
Sen. John Isakson (R-GA)
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. John Thune (R-SD)

Yes to TARP, Absent for auto

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Sen.Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Sen. John Sununu (R-NH)

Look at all the “R”s. Good to remember when the economy collapses further into the abyss.

And lookie here: is that both of Tennessee’s Senators voting no or else absent on the auto vote? Why, yes it is!

Sen. Corker, of course, has led the charge against the auto bailout. Sen. Alexander was recovering after surgery, but is on record for saying he’d have voted no. (For those who are interested, John Kerry was in Poland attending the climate change talks. I don’t know about Biden.)

Maybe someone should tell Tennessee’s Senators that General Motors is the largest employer in Spring Hill, TN. Hmm?

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Filed under auto bailout, GM, Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee politics

>Remember The Treaty Of Detroit

>I blogged about this back in July but now that a bailout of the American auto industry appears imminent, it’s time to remember the Treaty of Detroit.

From Roger Lowenstein’s July 2008 New York Times column:

General Motors established its pension in the “treaty of Detroit,” the five-year contract that it signed with the United Automobile Workers in 1950 that also provided health insurance and other benefits for the company’s workers. Walter Reuther, the union’s captain, would have preferred that the government provide pensions and health care to all citizens. He urged the automakers to “go down to Washington and fight with us” for federal benefits.

But the automakers wanted no part of socialized care. They seemed not to notice, as a union expert wrote, that if Washington didn’t provide social insurance it would be “sought from employers across the collective bargaining table.”

Okay, all of you conservatives blaming unions for the demise of the Big Three need to step away from the GOP talking point, especially since last year’s labor contract “nearly eliminated the labor cost difference between the Detroit Three and the Japanese.”

I do think that the failure of America’s auto industry affects far more than just Detroit. It affects parts manufacturers, businesses dependent upon those manufacturing sites, retailers, etc. … It will reverberate throughout the economy. I have no sympathy for General Motors or the rest of them, which I’ve blogged about many times. But just because I’m angry at the Big Three’s exceedingly inept management and decision making doesn’t mean I want to see the American economy thrust into a deep depression.

But if it’s true that the Big Three are partially to blame for America’s sucky healthcare system, well that ticks me off. And I don’t see why, instead of just throwing a bunch of cash at the automakers, we can’t kill two birds with one stone by providing universal healthcare for everyone, which would take that cost off of the automakers’ ledgers.

This isn’t my idea, it’s something Atrios mentioned this morning, inspired by Josh Marshall’s post about seeing opportunity in the crisis. Marshall wrote we should

use the ‘company’ as the vehicle for leapfrogging the US into the 21st century, non-hydrocarbon auto industry.

[…]

The danger is that we spend all the money and come out the other end still with a big region of the country tied to a dying industry, no true progress on the energy/climate crisis front and a lot more debt.

This is absolutely correct. The automakers’ backwards decisions related to healthcare, higher CAFE standards, gas guzzling SUVs, etc. are what sunk them, but these are problems affecting us all. So any “bailout” plan needs to be presented in a way that benefits us all in a more tangible way than just protecting us from the economic ripples of a dying auto manufacturing industry.

I think providing universal healthcare to all Americans would benefit the American people and it would benefit companies like GM that currently have to carry that cost. Let’s make these bailout packages work for everyone, not just high-powered executives awaiting their golden parachutes.

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Filed under economy, GM, healthcare

>Toyota Tops GM–AGAIN

>Here we go again:

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it sold more than 4.8 million cars and trucks worldwide through the first half of the year, putting the Japanese automaker ahead of rival General Motors in the race for the global sales crown.

I caught a small bit of NPR’s “Day To Day” yesterday where the subject was how Toyota surpassed GM. Among the things the guests mentioned were that in a couple of years, GM would be manufacturing more cars in China than in the U.S., and so it’s really no longer accurate to refer to GM as an “American company” just because they have a P.O. box in Delaware.

Interesting.

They also mentioned that the reason GM has been so far behind the eight-ball where the marketplace is concerned (something I’ve complained about a lot) is because of the way U.S. public corporations are structured. It stifles innovation and long-range planning, they said, because the need is to achieve short-term results to appease stockholders. Toyota was able to invest billions of dollars in their hybrid technology without seeing a return for years, but the corporate culture in Japan allowed for that kind of long-range planning.

GM, meanwhile, kept churning out the SUVs and pickup trucks that were profitable in the ‘90s. That was great for short term profits, but when market trends changed, they had nothing to fall back on. They were looking at the next quarter’s profits, not the profits of three or four years down the road.

I found that very interesting. I don’t think American innovation is dead but I do think our culture of immediate gratification is the source of a lot of our nation’s problems, not just in the business world but in politics and public policy, too.

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Filed under GM, Toyota