Congress Scraps a Good Car with Bad Steering

12/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Congress might as well be arguing about the sale of the state of Michigan as it debates the proposed bailout of the Big Three automotive makers.

Whatever message voters sent to the GOP on Tuesday, Nov. 4, it's become increasingly apparent the party leadership has not received it. The remarks of Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) - ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee - today are a disappointing case in point:

"My constituents do not understand why their tax dollars should go to support what they consider less efficient businesses," Bachus said today during the committee's hearing with Detroit automotive leaders.

I daresay Bachus' constituents have said the same thing about the very federal government for which the congressman works.

The fact is, Bachus - like the vast majority of his Republican counterparts and a growing number of Democrats - fundamentally misunderstands the crisis. No one - this Michigan resident included - is out to defend recent management of Ford, GM and Chrysler as "efficient." It doesn't take an industry analyst to determine the status quo broken.

But neither does it take significant economic expertise to realize that the strategy by bailout opponents to scuttle an entire American industry is dangerously counterproductive. In fact, such an argument is not dissimilar to (gasp) a major automaker scrapping plans for an otherwise viable model after discovering a minor problem with its steering system.

Who's inefficient now?

Rep. Bachus' Alabama constituents might not understand why they should dish out to save a failing American auto industry, but I'm guessing they're also not particularly going to like it when thousands of freshly unemployed Michigan autoworkers arrive in Montgomery begging for jobs and social services.

That is trickle-down economics: coming to an America near you if Congress fails to pass the automotive industry bailout.

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