A snippet from the noon presser on filbustering; behind him are Ensign, DeMint, Vitter, and Coburn, “five true mavericks” in the boss’s words. I maintain that she’s setting herself up for disappointment, but the public’s firmly on her and Shelby’s side when it comes to prospects for recovery. Just 14 percent think the Big Three will do better under government supervision than they’re doing now. Fully 67 percent think otherwise.
Even so, note well: He’s not saying they’ll filibuster any auto bailout, just this one in its current incarnation. The goal isn’t necessarily to cut off funds but to use the feds’ leverage to exact a sustainable restructuring plan. To that end, a highlight from the House GOP’s alternative proposal calling for a pre-packaged bankruptcy and insurance:
Congress should instead establish firm benchmarks and a tight timeline for restructuring. Such benchmarks will include for example requiring that by March 31, 2009 each company should reach agreement whereby:
* The companies’ creditors agree to a framework to reduce each company’s indebtedness by at least 1/3.
* The UAW holds to concessions already made and further:
o Concedes the elimination of Supplemental Unemployment Benefits;
o Concedes elimination of the Jobs Bank Program;
o Agrees to either reduce company retiree health care obligations or otherwise convert a portion of such obligations into equity; and
o Agrees to reduce wages and benefits to the levels paid by non-Big Three manufacturers.
Good luck on those last two, even though no less than the NYT concedes that it’s retirement benefits more than any other element of compensation that puts U.S. auto at a competitive disadvantage. Exit question one: How much will it cost taxpayers if Congress doesn’t act? Figure somewhere in the range of $13 billion to, er, $156 billion. Exit question two via Time: Reid’s not going to bring this to the floor unless he knows he has the votes to beat the filibuster, right? Please, one FUBAR congressional floor vote to avert economic catastrophe per year is more than enough.