TROUBLES IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY ARE NOT JUST A MICHIGAN PROBLEM; TODAY WE SEE THEY ARE AN AMERICAN PROBLEM; Congressional Record Vol. 155, No. 74
(House of Representatives - May 14, 2009)

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[Pages H5638-H5639]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




TROUBLES IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY ARE NOT JUST A MICHIGAN PROBLEM; TODAY WE 
                    SEE THEY ARE AN AMERICAN PROBLEM

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Madam Speaker, I represent a district in 
southeast Michigan. We are a part of the very heart and soul of our 
domestic auto industry, an industry that has served our country very 
well. It's built the weapons that America needed in times of war when 
our freedom itself was at risk. It's provided millions of Americans an 
opportunity for a good job with good benefits and a secure retirement.
  We all understand that the American auto industry has fallen on very, 
very hard times. Those of us in southeast Michigan understand it well. 
It's not a new development. We are painfully aware of it. We've dealt 
with plant closings and thousands of jobs lost. We've dealt with 
families torn apart, home foreclosures, and communities devastated. And 
we've endured massive new unfunded Federal mandates placed upon our 
industry, which have made it very difficult to compete. We've watched 
as Federal and State incentives have been offered to foreign 
competitors to come into our home market on equal terms, even though 
similar access to foreign markets has not been offered to our domestic 
companies. We've seen this government negligent in not formulating a 
manufacturing policy that protects vital American interests and good-
paying American jobs. And for years we never asked for help.
  But when Wall Street melted down last year, our problems were made 
even worse because 80 percent of the people who are going to buy an 
automobile require credit and not enough credit was available, and, of 
course, auto sales have just fallen through the floor. And when the 
auto companies came to Capitol Hill to ask for similar assistance 
that's been given to the Wall Street banks, those whose actions made 
their problems even worse, the auto industry was treated with disdain 
and their pleas for help were rejected by this Congress, which seemed 
indifferent to the problem and to the desire to protect American jobs.
  This was a Michigan problem we were told, not an American problem. We 
tried to remind our colleagues of everything that this industry has 
meant to our great Nation, and again we received indifference and we 
were told, Just let them go into bankruptcy.
  We were told that these companies needed to shed their legacy costs. 
Well, guess what. Legacy costs have names. They are people. And we're 
told that this has to be done because these foreign competitors who 
were given free access to our market do not have such legacy costs. Or 
imports which are built by low-wage workers overseas do not have these 
legacy costs. We are told we need to drive American wages down to match 
Third World competitors in order to compete.
  Well, today we see that this is not just a Michigan problem anymore; 
today it is an American problem. Today Chrysler is in bankruptcy court, 
exactly what many in this Congress advocated for. And today Chrysler 
filed a list of 789 dealerships whose franchise agreements it is asking 
the bankruptcy court to sever. That means the closure of 789 
dealerships in communities all across our great Nation.
  These businesses represent not just a place to buy a car, but they 
represent community leaders, the sponsors of the Little League teams or 
the chairman of the Rotary. In many cases the biggest job provider in 
the town. The average dealer in this Nation, Madam Speaker, employs 
over 50 people. So this move means the loss of over 40,000 more jobs. 
Now 789 communities across this Nation will feel the pain of a 
contracting domestic auto industry. The pain of a business shutting 
down, the pain of jobs lost, the pain of families who will be 
devastated.
  And tomorrow that pain will only get worse as General Motors is also 
set to release a list of dealers it hopes to shed and a list that will 
be much, much larger than 789 dealers.
  Madam Speaker, this list was submitted as a part of that bankruptcy 
filing, a bankruptcy that many Members were advocating for when they 
believed it was just a Michigan problem. And now we see Members 
lamenting the fact that dealerships in their districts are closing. And 
they fail to realize that if this bankruptcy had happened last 
December, when they voted against bridge loans for the auto industry, 
it would have included every Chrysler dealer, because a disorderly 
bankruptcy would have led to the liquidation of Chrysler. So some 
Members got what they advocated for, Chrysler in bankruptcy, which 
today has led to the loss of 40,000 jobs. And tomorrow it will get 
worse.

[[Page H5639]]

  It is time to understand that preserving, protecting, and defending 
our auto industry doesn't just solve a Michigan problem, it solves an 
American problem, and it defends jobs in every community in our great 
Nation.
  It is a shame, Madam Speaker, that we had to learn this lesson on the 
backs and the livelihoods of another 40,000 of our fellow Americans.

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