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Old 11-08-2006, 09:49 PM   #1
NYCshopper
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Default U.S. automakers turn to Dems for help

U.S. automakers turn to Dems for help

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061108/...congress_autos

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DETROIT - They won't celebrate in public, but the Big Three domestic automakers are hoping that Democratic control of the U.S. House and perhaps the Senate will bring a government that's more responsive to their plight as they fight for business with Asian competitors.

Top U.S. auto executives have grown increasingly frustrated with the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress on energy policies, health care costs, currency manipulation by other countries and protection of intellectual property.

After months of trying, leaders of the Big Three are scheduled to meet Tuesday at the White House with President Bush, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Wednesday.

No one is expecting major changes with Democrats holding only a narrow majority in the House, but still, changes could be coming.

"None of this is a slam-dunk for anyone, but I think our prospects on the issues ... are a lot better," said Alan Reuther, legislative director for the United Auto Workers union, which has sought incentives for flexible-fuel vehicles and help for manufacturers on health care costs for retirees.

Industry-friendly lawmakers already are preparing to push legislation that will help General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group.

"I think there's a greater recognition here that our manufacturers are not just competing with companies overseas. They're competing against countries that support their manufacturing," Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich, said in a conference call with reporters. "We're going to have to be a much stronger partner with our auto companies and with our other manufacturers if we're going to stem this loss of jobs."

Democrats say nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since Bush took office as companies continue to move production to low-wage countries, driving up the trade deficit.

Levin predicted that Democrats in Congress will try to prod Bush into taking action with the World Trade Organization against countries that throw up barriers to imports of American goods.

American manufacturers say China is keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar to make Chinese goods cheaper in the U.S. and American-made products more expensive in China.

"I think corrective action ought to be taken, particularly on the currency manipulation," said Rep. Paul Gillmor (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio, whose district includes numerous manufacturers. "They must think we're fat, dumb and happy the way we sit back and let them take advantage of it."

Gillmor, who was re-elected Tuesday, said both Bush and former President Clinton have been too soft on enforcing trade agreements, especially with China.

Other countries have copied U.S. technology in violation of trade pacts, Gillmor said.

"That's just another area where we have to be tougher. They simply have not lived up to their agreements," he said.

Japanese automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have increased their profile in Washington in recent years, bolstered by the creation of jobs at new plants in the South and Midwest. Any advantages given to the Big Three would likely need to benefit the entire industry.

"We're going to be making our point that whatever is done should apply equally and equitably to all auto manufacturers," said Mike Stanton, president and chief executive of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers.

The auto industry will have a strong ally in Rep. John Dingell (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., who will become chairman of the key House Energy and Commerce Committee in January. Dingell, who represents thousands of auto workers, has opposed increasing fuel economy standards because of concerns about potential job losses and negative economic consequences for automakers.

Dingell said Wednesday that fuel economy "is a long lead-time item" and would need to be considered in the context of its economic costs and the "ability of industry and market to absorb the costs."

Dingell said the committee would look into the development of alternative fuels and vehicles and the use of diesel fuels in the marketplace.

"We want to reduce the dependence on foreign oil and we will do what we can to move forward on energy independence," Dingell said.

The issue of making vehicles get more miles per gallon will be closely watched. The auto industry has resisted upgraded requirements and stressed the need for vehicles fueled by alternatives such as ethanol, diesel and long-range projects involving hydrogen.

"In recent years, attempts to increase fuel economy standards have been met with broad bipartisan opposition and we're hopeful that that opposition continues," said Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Environmental groups have urged Bush to address funding for alternative energy sources and improved fuel economy standards. The administration reformed fuel economy rules for light trucks and has sought changes to the passenger car system, but the increases have been derided as minimal by critics.

"Energy policy and fuel economy standards for the past 20 years have been a bipartisan failure," said David Friedman, research director for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program. "The next year will tell us a lot about how serious people are."
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Old 11-08-2006, 10:06 PM   #2
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Now tell me WTH do this have to do with their crappy cars (with the exception of 2 or 3 models). I mean, give me a freakin' break already!!!
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Old 11-09-2006, 12:33 AM   #3
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ok.. just because asian car makers make better cars, they blame the govt??? make a comprable car, then they can discuss.
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Old 11-09-2006, 12:51 AM   #4
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Since when are the democrats more sympathetic to big business? I don't get it.
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Old 11-09-2006, 12:56 AM   #5
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A piece of **** with a rebate is still a piece of ****.
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Old 11-09-2006, 01:05 AM   #6
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This democratic person from Michigan should not be in his position, I believe we need individuals that can help promote an increase in CAFE requirements are necessary for the well-being of our country. Just by saying we should support other alternatives that make little to any dent on fuel imports and make us burn more fuel (ethanol) makes this guy sound like he's got one hell of an agenda and already lining up for a scandal.

I don't think the gov't needs to help them out, they have enough brains to do the job right. Pay attention to what and why customers are purchasing. Do that and I think that will go a long ways.
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Old 11-09-2006, 01:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freon View Post
A piece of **** with a rebate is still a piece of ****.
Kind of like you can only polish a turd so much? It's still a turd in the end.
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Old 11-09-2006, 08:30 AM   #8
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Bush has been very specific on which big business he supports. Yes the auto makers feel left out because they are and yes they make crap.

The more this #$%$@ goes on the more we are reverting to communism. One of the largest companies in the world and they are claiming they need help because they are getting picked on...... Everyone is on the dole.

The next thing you know you will hear that Subbie is going to kill the Legacy wagon.... Oh wait, never mind..

Sorry I had to.

Peace,

Greg
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Old 11-09-2006, 08:49 AM   #9
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The Big2.5 have no right to say that they are getting "picked-on" (for lack of a better word) by the Asian car makers - simply because the Big2.5 have been producing crappy cars. Make better cars and people will buy them...

... BUT on the flip side, W has allowed wholescale outsourcing of US jobs. Middle-class jobs. Well-paying jobs. Jobs that represent the backbone of this country. That has got to stop or be prepared for a country that is even more divided by rich and poor. You can't complain about people on welfare and crap like that, when you approve of jobs getting shipped overseas.

What I find ironic though, is that Detroit out of all the carmakers are some of the worst offenders of this practice.
While the Mazda6 is built in the US, it's Ford cousin is built in Mexico! The Chevy Equinox uses a Chinese built tranny.

Detroit does have a point though, when it comes to complaining about healthcare - burdening companies with that cost is a sure fire way of getting more and more companies to outsource as many of thier employees as possible. If healthcare costs were spread out throughout the populace - in the form of Universal Healthcare - costs would go down for everyone.


Simply put, this issue is quite complex.
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Old 11-09-2006, 09:11 AM   #10
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I totally agree. Its easy to spectulate on the internet about problems, but solutions are the key issue. I dont have them. But I do know that anytime the UAW president speaks up, I get suspicous. The DEMS are not going to promote slack CAFE standards! Please, they are the tree hugger party.

Its been said before. Produce better vehicles, and people will start to forget the last 20 years. It will take time, but dedication to quality rahter than profit margins will get you there. GM and Ford do not need a bail out, they need a swift kick in the pants to wake up some of the old greybeards there that are stuck in their money hungry ways.

Its time to give up some of that profit margin and put more money into R&D, and really wow the rest of the world. I still believe GM can produce amazing things if given the chance by the CEO's and the UAW.
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Old 11-09-2006, 09:12 AM   #11
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As far as healthcare goes.... thats trickier than fixing the big three.
I dont even want to touch that one. I know what I am going to teach my kids. If the country is growing the gap between rich and poor, then make damn sure you one of the rich ones.
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Old 11-09-2006, 09:22 AM   #12
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Are there really less auto manufacturing jobs in the US? Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Subaru, and Mercedes all manufacture in the US. (Did I miss any?) Or just less big 2.5 jobs? GM and Ford both import cars into the US.

There may be less overall manufacturing jobs in the US, but automanufacturing is still doing just fine in the US. Even the Chinese want to do some manufacturing here.

I don't think the new democrats are going to buy wholesale into their pre-1994 positions. I don't think union workers and socialists are their base anymore.
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Old 11-09-2006, 09:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themarxist View Post
Since when are the democrats more sympathetic to big business? I don't get it.
They are sympathetic to unions and to protectionism in general. US car companies need to make better cars, not a bailout (which would just be throwing good money after bad).
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Old 11-09-2006, 10:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCRAPPYDO View Post
I dont even want to touch that one. I know what I am going to teach my kids. If the country is growing the gap between rich and poor, then make damn sure you one of the rich ones.
Well, that certainly fixes the problem!

Are you going to teach them to abuse the downtrodden, too?
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Old 11-09-2006, 08:08 PM   #15
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This is my personal 2 cents, having worked in healthcare for several years, and having done research on it.

Not to open up a can of worms, but people who push for universal healthcare look to europe and canada as models of what "works", and think "if only we can do that." The problem is for primary care, their systems work OK, but for everything else, it doesn't. A big problem proponents of europe-style healthcare overlook is that America's population is at least twice the closest european state. So saying "Finland has great government provided healthcare, why can't we! Stupid (Insert Punching Bag Politician) hates (Insert victim group, i.e. poor, minorities, one legged mailmen.)" is being disingenuous and not helpful to the discussion. We can't do a Finland style system because we have 60 times the number of people, can't staff the hospitals we have already, and don't want to pay Finnish tax rates.

Now if you look at the wait times, they are horrendous for any sort of major surgery or even simple procedures like an MRI in most large socialized systems. If I want an MRI in America currently, it costs my insurance company a couple grand, but i get it the same day, or AT MOST in 2 weeks. I remember reading that in canada, the average wait is 6 weeks. As much as Americans complain about how awful healthcare is in America, it really is among the best in the world in service and care.

How does this relate to what the UAW guy said? When you look at healthcare for elderly, it is FAR FAR more complicated than your average person needing primary care. And FAR more expensive. I don't want to make this too complicated, but socializing will deteriorate the quality for the elderly, who are supposed to be being helped by this.

Another problem is that governments which fund their health systems through higher tax rates than America has, not just for the rich, but for everyone. In the end it is a zero sums game which punishes higher wage earners because the middle class ends up paying the same in taxes as they would in insurance premiums, which many employers subsidize, and your boss ends up paying double what he used to. This is all fine and dandy if you think the "rich" should be punished and forced to pay for everyone else, like in socialism. I don't agree with it and neither does your boss.

From what my colleagues and I have discussed, a huge cost of healthcare right now is due to malpractice and legal fees. Suing doctors and hospitals is big business and it needs to be fixed. Another issue is the reason healthcare costs so much: A signficant portion of people cannot afford to pay the bill and hospitals realize that. To offset the cost, they charge health insurance companies an arm and a leg for things that don't actually cost that much in terms of equipment and man hours. Finally, a better solution would be for poor people to band together and negotiate low cost insurance premiums. However there is no money in this, so no company currently wants to step up to the challange. However, government involvement in such a scheme will only lead to overburdened, inefficient (private enterprise is ALWAYS more efficient because they have a vested interest in being so), and ineffectual solutions like medicare.

As a side note, I tried to make this as apolitical as possible and I think both of the current parties are useless. But unions are more useless and half the problems the domestic manufacturers have are because of unionized labor and the other half is sort of a result of that; they have to make crappy cars because they can't afford to make nice ones, since they are paying several thousand union employees to do nothing.
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Old 11-09-2006, 10:28 PM   #16
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I'm sure the Japanese car companies are so successful because they went and begged certain elements of their governement to make allowances and subsidies that would make them competitive over here.

:yawn:
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Old 11-09-2006, 10:30 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Freon View Post
A piece of **** with a rebate is still a piece of ****.

then it's a cheap piece of ****
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Old 11-09-2006, 11:13 PM   #18
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Is the government going to bail them out just like the did with:

a) The Farm industry and their subsidies
b) Construction industry and their crappy highway construction praticies
c) Oil companies and their rip off of the american consumers
d) Manufacturing companies.. Very sad what's happened here but sadly the government was responsible.
e) Or the last fiasco.. The airline industry. Look how far they've gotten.

Bottom line... All these people running these massive corporations are crooks. They all want the big bucks without putting in the hard work.. "OHH yeah. We'll just beg to the government. They'll bail us out"

PS... I am not saying some of these aren't legit, but comon people smell the coffee. All these shelters and bail out's are hiding a much bigger issue..

Okay end Rant!! Go Subaru!
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Old 11-10-2006, 06:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooby-Doode View Post
Is the government going to bail them out just like the did with:

a) The Farm industry and their subsidies
b) Construction industry and their crappy highway construction praticies
c) Oil companies and their rip off of the american consumers
d) Manufacturing companies.. Very sad what's happened here but sadly the government was responsible.
e) Or the last fiasco.. The airline industry. Look how far they've gotten.

Bottom line... All these people running these massive corporations are crooks. They all want the big bucks without putting in the hard work.. "OHH yeah. We'll just beg to the government. They'll bail us out"

PS... I am not saying some of these aren't legit, but comon people smell the coffee. All these shelters and bail out's are hiding a much bigger issue..

Okay end Rant!! Go Subaru!
^^ Agree with that 100%.... but you forgot the Insurance industry and how they got assurances and protection from lawsuits and such by the government right after 911 and then Katrina.

It's good to be a multi-billion dollar corporation in America where you can buy influence.
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Old 11-10-2006, 07:16 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooby-Doode View Post
Is the government going to bail them out just like the did with:

c) Oil companies and their rip off of the american consumers
Oil companies are not ripping us as consumers they are a leach on tax payers.
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Old 11-10-2006, 08:02 AM   #21
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I think we all agree that there are many messed up things here in the good old USA right now. But in all these cases, business and politics, it has to do with money. Everyone will screw the next guy for money and they will justify it anyway they want. The problem is I am usually the guy getting screwed.

What a great base for a society...

Peace,

Greg
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