Inside Scoopage On The Senate Filibuster Of The Bailout

by John Hawkins | December 10, 2008 1:08 pm

From the incomparable Michelle Malkin[1],

At noon Eastern today, five true maverick Republicans will announce their support of a UAW bailout filibuster in Washington.

Senate sources tell me GOP Sens. Shelby, Ensign, and DeMint (as I noted yesterday) will be joined at the press conference by Sens. Vitter and Coburn. Our own Gang of Five!

If this filibuster were happening in 2009, it would probably be doomed before it got started because Kit Bond and George Voinovich have auto plants in their states and hence, are unlikely to support a filibuster that could cost jobs in their state.

However, the name of the game when there’s a filibuster on is getting to 60 votes. At the moment, we still have 49 Republicans and my Senate sources tell me that Max Baucus is supposedly against the bailout. Additionally, my sources noted that Kerry and Klobuchar are leaving for an overseas trip today & Clinton and Biden say they won’t vote.

That means if the GOP leadership encourages the Senate Republicans to filibuster, the Democrats will have one hell of a time breaking it.

So, what will McConnell and Company do?

Well, Bush is apparently going to go along with the bailout, but he has very little sway with the Senate GOP at the moment. Moreover, I’ve been told the Senate GOP has almost been completely cut out of discussion on the bailout, which is sure to infuriate them.

On the other hand, the GOP leaders in the Senate have been holding their cards close to the vest and they haven’t given a lot of indications on which way they’ll go.

Unfortunately, their attitude over the last few years always seems to be “We have to do something!” Even if it doesn’t help them politically, even if it’s not their responsibility in the first place, even if it’s not a good bill, it’s always, “We have to do something!” These guys have been beaten down by the press to such an extent that they’re terrified to take a real stand.

What they should do is suggest an alternate bailout plan, one that has every item on a conservative wishlist checked, and then refuse to move off of it one iota. That way, if the bailout happens, it’s on our terms. If it doesn’t happen, then they should blame the Democrats because they’re in charge.

Then, if one of the car companies goes out of business later this month, every Republican in the Senate should be out there ripping the Democrats for allowing workers to lose their jobs at Christmas.

That’s smart politics, it’s smart policy, since the government shouldn’t be involved in a bailout in the first place, and it’s exactly what the Democrats would do if the positions were reversed.

So, let’s see if the GOP plays it smart and filibusters this unpopular bailout or once again, doesn’t have the courage of their convictions and caves.

Update #1: Unlike the Senate Leadership, the House Republican Leadership doesn’t seem to be waffling on this bailout at all,

John Boehner sent out a press release that just hit email. Here’s an excerpt from the House Leadership’s take on the bailout,

House GOP Leaders Propose No-Bailout Alternative for Auto Industry

WASHINGTON, DC – House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN), and other House GOP leaders today put forth an alternative to the $15 billion taxpayer-funded auto bailout proposed by House Democratic leaders. Boehner issued the following statement:

“The proposal put forth by our colleagues in the Democratic majority is unworthy of American auto workers and unworthy of American taxpayers. It guarantees failure at taxpayer expense. It will keep the industry dependent on taxpayer money instead of giving auto workers the security of a viable industry that is back on its feet and ready to compete. American auto workers and taxpayers deserve better.

“A responsible plan should protect taxpayers and help auto workers and their families by allowing the Big Three to become competitive again. Our plan does this.”

….Washington has failed this basic test with respect to the American auto industry. Republicans want to make certain that in its response to the resulting crisis, Washington does not fail American taxpayers as well. A responsible plan should do two things: it should protect taxpayers, and it should help auto workers and their families by allowing the Big Three to become competitive again. The Democrats’ plan does neither. Congress should not be stampeded into rubber-stamping a plan that guarantees failure at the taxpayers’ expense.

…The Democratic Bailout proposal has three fundamental flaws:

* The only thing crazier than trusting the same management and union officials who got the Big Three into this mess to get them out is trusting a bunch of Washington politicians and bureaucrats – the very same people who ran up a $455 billion deficit last year. American auto workers and their families deserve better.

* If no private investors believe the Big Three restructuring plans are realistic enough to support with their own money, why should we put up taxpayer money? American taxpayers deserve better.

* The Big Three restructuring plan and the Democratic proposal lack accountability. There is no guarantee that once they get taxpayer money the restructuring they promise will occur. Once the taxpayers prop them up once, there will be a big incentive to keep bailing them out – keeping the industry dependent on government aid, lashing it to the majority’s political agenda, and further denying American auto workers the security of a viable industry that is back on its feet and ready to compete. American auto workers and their families deserve better.

Clap. Clap. Clap. Outstanding!

  1. Michelle Malkin:

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