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Steve Parker

Steve Parker

Posted: November 1, 2008 11:52 PM

October car/truck sales reports - Fuel for Obama campaign


This Monday, the new car and truck sales reports for the month of October will be announced, and are expected to be the worst in 25-or-more years.

Those numbers should be used to bring more voters to the polls the next day, solid members of the Democratic Party and those who might vote that way for the first time. Democratic candidates and volunteers working phone banks in some key states should use these numbers to convince those still (somehow) undecided or too depressed by their own economic situation to vote to do something positive and vote for Barack Obama and other Democrats running for office, locally, statewide and nationally.

Friday on CNBC, an auto industry analyst said that if General Motors were to go bankrupt, more than two million Americans would lose their jobs, including those working directly for GM, at their hundreds of supplier companies, all of their dealership personnel - the list goes on and on.

And several analysts agree that GM is burning through $1 billion a month - in cash they don't have.

GM's cash condition is so bad that one of their most important new high-mileage vehicles, the Chevrolet Cruze, could be delayed in the US until 2011 or longer, while the car is now being built and sold in South Korea and plans call for building and selling it in Europe in March, 2009. And GM's much-vaunted Volt plug-in hybrid may also be delayed for the same reason - no cash for production start-up.
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(Chevy's Cruze, top, was introduced at the Paris Car Show in October, but the US version of the high-mileage car may be delayed until 2011; GM VP Robert Lutz, 76, introduces the Volt plug-in hybrid at last year's Detroit Auto Show, and Volt may also be delayed because the company doesn't have the amount of cash necessary for starting its production).

Candidates and volunteers in car- and parts-making states like Michigan, Alabama, Texas, California, Ohio, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New York and more should use these numbers when talking to voters.

At this point, merger talks between GM and Chrysler have ended; those two told Washington that another $10 billion, in addition to the $25 billion already going to Detroit, was going to be needed to finance any merger.

Discussions between Chrysler and Nissan/Renault have also stopped.

As recently as August, John McCain vigorously opposed a bailout for Detroit. According to
www.MotorAuthority.com, "His (McCain's) stance thus far is that it's not the role of the government to be a crutch to these businesses, a view also shared by current president George W. Bush."
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(Barack Obama has consistently told Americans about the importance of the auto industry to the country, and that creating a new, green car-making industry will help the nation and the world; French car-maker Renault, which also controls Nissan, has advanced technology thanks to their involvement in Formula 1 racing, but their talks with Chrysler about a merger have ended).

Also in August, the Detroit News reported that, "Barack Obama has previously vocalized his support for loan programs for domestic manufacturers, including 'loans and tax credits to retool the nation's auto plants and build the next generation of American cars'. Obama has also previously spoken about his desire to see the American auto industry at the forefront of technology for next-generation cars, rather than lagging behind as it is now."

Many of this Blog's visitors have said, essentially, that when it comes to the Detroit Three, "Let them go out of business - They did it to themselves, anyway."

And I couldn't agree more - but only with the second half of that statement.

Realistically, with the specter of two million unemployed Americans looming on the horizon if just one of the Detroit Three goes bankrupt in the US, can our economy afford to support, re-train and create new jobs for those workers? And should Washington step into this situation at all with tax payers' money?

I say, again, that the Detroit Three should merge into one single large car-maker, and I think most Americans would be thrilled to support this new company - But only if they engineer, design and sell the right cars and trucks for this marketplace. And one company will assure there are no "winners" and "losers" among the Detroit Three. I think that's important to the companies and the country.

And the money, time and effort necessary to help those laid-off by this merger can be factored into any plan to "re-do" Detroit.

Help with home mortgages, extending unemployment payments, help with car/truck loans and leases, aid to families with students in college, re-training - and the establishment of hundreds of thousands of new jobs for America's new green economy - can all be planned for before any merger occurs.

The economies of scale and being able to take advantage of all of the $25 or $50 billion bailout and sheer patriotism will help this new company succeed.

Remember that Washington is not just throwing money at this problem and hoping it will go away; the new company is expected to make and sell the best cars and trucks in the world, and payback Washington (and us), at the lowest possible interest rates (about 4.5%, or about a third of what they're paying for money now), and do it within 25 years; Washington can defer payback for five years.

All this information, coupled with Monday's bad news about car/truck October sales should be used to sway America and its workers to help Barack Obama become President-elect of the United States of America - the very next day.

Visitor Bonus! For those interested in the new clean diesel engines being offered by Volkswagen, Audi and Mercedes-Benz this year, and from the Detroit Three next year, Mercedes-Benz has created a fun, easy-to-navigate and informative Website to explain the new technology. Click anywhere on this line to visit ... And enjoy (but only after voting!).

Follow Steve Parker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/autojourno