Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 19, 2009


The Nation - A federal government that can bail out Wall Street should be helping auto dealerships on Main Street make it through a dramatic downturn in he economy that is devastating the global auto industry -- as well as just about every other industry.

But "help" that pays Chrysler to shutter factories in Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Michigan and move work to Mexico, that pays General Motors to shutter factories in locations across the country in order to move the work to China, that pays Chrysler and GM to drop roughly 1,900 dealerships, is not going to get the American middle class through this downturn.

The dealership closings will be especially tough on minority owners and, according to the dealer's association, could cost as many as 100,000 jobs nationwide.

The factory closings will displace tens of thousands of workers and rip primary employers out of communities across the Great Lakes states.

What is especially unsettling is the mounting evidence that the Obama administration and the car companies are peddling spin -- and, critics argue, outright deception -- in order to promote the fantasy that what's playing out will, as the Treasury Department suggests, be "a restructuring that results in stronger car companies -- supported by efficient and effective dealer networks - (that) will not only provide more stability and certainty for current employees but the prospect for future employment growth."

In fact, the plant closings and dealership closings -- coupled with the ramping up of Chrysler and GM production outside the U.S. and the radical consolidation of car sales and service -- eliminates stability and certainty for tens of thousands of current employees and reduces the prospect for future employment growth in this country. . .

Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette says he and other members of Congress were briefed by top administration officials prior to the president's national address about the future of Chrysler. "Members of Congress on the call were assured that there would be no permanent plant closings... We were also assured that no jobs would be lost," says LaTourette, a Republican.

Democrat Dennis Kucinich, another Ohio congressman who was briefed, told the Plain Dealer he "is struggling even to understand why the administration would tell him and others something that wasn't true." Says Kucinich: "To me, it really becomes a question of credibility."


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