Mitch McConnell: We can't vote for the House's auto bailout

Reid and Pelosi were counting on him to bring Republicans around, of course, which means the bill’s probably dead. The plan now is to let the Senate vote on alternative Democratic and Republican compromise plans later today, followed by a “test vote” tomorrow morning on the House proposal. Should be a fun day on Wall Street if they flunk.

K-Lo has the text of McConnell’s speech. No explicit threat of a filibuster, but given the way things are going I wonder if Reid even has 50 votes, let alone 60. Blue Dog Democrats can read the polls, too; if they think the bill’s going down, they have every reason to jump on the bandwagon. The money bit from McConnell:

Somewhat lost in the recent debate over the auto industry is the fundamental difference between it and the financial rescue plan that Congress approved in October. While that plan was intended to rescue the entire economy, this one is intended to save a single industry. That plan was intended to help everyone — from small business owners to college students; and every lawmaker who voted for it acted on the belief that that is what it would do…

A lot of struggling Americans are asking where their bailout is. They wonder why one business would get support over another. When it comes to the auto industry, many Republicans in Congress have asked these same questions.

There are many principled reasons to oppose this bill. But the simplest one is also the best: “a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take everything we have.” This is as true for individuals as it is for business. It’s the primary principle on which American industry, including the auto industry, was built. And even in turbulent moments like this — perhaps especially at moments like this — it’s a principle well worth defending.

Some argue that the effects of an auto industry collapse would be too acute and far-reaching for an already-struggling economy to bear. This is impossible to know. And even if we grant that these companies would fail without taxpayer help, we would still have to ask ourselves whether the proposal before us achieves the goal that everyone claims to embrace — namely, the long-term viability of ailing car companies — and, in my view, it does not.

I think Dan Riehl’s idea is better, but you already knew that. Exit question one: Reid’s not actually going to tank the market by putting this up for a vote which he knows will fail, is he? Exit question two: McConnell concedes that the systemic effect of the Big Three going down is “impossible to know.” Wasn’t that also true of the bank rescue in October, which he insists was vital to save the economy? The difference, arguably, is that the risk of systemic failure was much greater in letting banks fail; in that case, what makes him confident that the risk this time is sufficiently low as to be tolerable?

Update: One more belated exit question. How do you suppose those 32 Republicans who voted for the House bill feel right now, with their biting of the bullet having gone for naught?