They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers start building only cars and mass transit that reduce our dependency on oil.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers build cars that reduce global warming.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers withdraw their many lawsuits against state governments in their attempts to not comply with our environmental laws.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the management team which drove these once-great manufacturers into the ground resign and be replaced with a team who understands the transportation needs of the 21st century.
Yes, they could have given the loan for any of these reasons because, in the end, to lose our manufacturing infrastructure and throw 3 million people out of work would be a catastrophe.
But instead, the Senate said, we’ll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That’s right. After giving BILLIONS to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers — billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever — the Senate decided it is more important to break a union, more important to throw middle class wage earners into the ranks of the working poor than to prevent the total collapse of industrial America.
Could have, should have, would have. From where I stand, having made many of those exact same points myself, there’s a part of me that’s saying these things are the CHANGE I expected. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to put into action all those many campaign promises. I know Obama hasn’t taken office yet and I’m not putting this on him, but I truly hope that once he does take office and is in the position to make good on his promise of real change that he start with this.
There will not be a better opportunity for Obama to make good on his rallying cry of change than to take this opportunity to boot out the greedy corporate bafoons that have literally driven the American auto industry to the brink of extinction and run them out on a rail. Let’s hope that come January 20th real change really will come to Washington.