The Chrysler and General Motors restructuring processes, which will result in an unprecedented number of auto plant closings in the United States, the layoffs of tens of thousands of auto workers and of an estimated 100,000 employees of auto dealerships has the potential to deliver a devastating blow to local economies in communities across the Great Lakes states and the Upper Midwest.
The process is being driven by the Obama administration’s auto-industry task force, which is made up of investment bankers and proponents of off-shoring who have little or no experience with manufacturing. The task force, which is coordinating the investment of tens of billions in U.S. tax dollars in an effort to “save” the domestic auto industry is overseeing a process that will result in a dramatic shift of manufacturing from the hard-hit factory towns of the United States to foreign countries.
So where is Congress, which unlike the auto task force includes a number of representatives of manufacturing communities and working families?
That’s exactly what Ralph Nader and Multinational Monitor editor Rob Weissman are asking.
“The government-led restructuring of Chrysler and General Motors has been twice delegated — first by Congress to the Executive, and then by the President to a task force. Formally made up of cabinet officials and high-level political appointees, control over the process has in fact been delegated, without adequate standards, to a handful of special advisers,” argue Nader and Weissman, who have long histories of challenging misguided auto-industry policies. “Thus has the future of a centerpiece of American manufacturing capacity been delegated to a small unelected and largely unaccountable group arranged to avoid the Federal Advisory Committee Act.”
In an urgent letter dispatched to Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs chair Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, and House Committee on Financial Services chair Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, Nader and Weissman write, “At the very least, the Congress must exercise its oversight powers. It should, at the very least, urge the Obama administration to defer any plans for bankruptcy or other irreversible moves until after the task force plan has been subjected to close and careful review via thorough Congressional hearings. If delay requires some additional bridge funding for GM, surely such funding with suitable equity positions is appropriate, in light of the potential risks of bankruptcy to millions of families and further governmental relief programs, and the vastly greater sums that have been so recklessly expended on the virtually condition-free Wall Street bailout.”