Bailout Fail

When progressives have attacked Democratic leadership in Congress over the past two years, my instincts, by and large, have been to cut them [leadership] some slack. After all, it’s pretty hard to do much governing when the other party still controls the White House, and is also deeply unserious about governing from top to bottom. And God bless em, Senate Republicans sure went to bat for me:

An eleventh-hour effort to salvage a proposed $14 billion rescue plan for the auto industry collapsed late last night as Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on the timing of deep wage cuts for union workers, killing the legislative plan and threatening America’s carmakers with bankruptcy.

“We’re not going to get to the finish line. That’s just the way it is. There’s too much difference between the two sides,”  Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced after 10 p.m., concluding a marathon negotiating session that ended in gridlock. Reid warned that financial markets could plummet when trading opens this morning.

The crux of the problem, no joke, is that Democrats, UAW, and the Big 3 firms were looking to cut wages in a phased program to be completed by 2011, while Richard Shelby, Bob Corker, and Jim DeMint are demanding they do it now. So apparently, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans during a recession is insane, but slashing middle class wages is just sense. Or something like that. John Judis has more:

Here’s what bothers me. Japanese companies, which for years have benefited from one-way deal by which they could sell cars in the U.S. while U.S. companies were stymied in selling cars and trucks in Japan, set up non-union plants in low-wage, low-education, right-to-work states where they can pay less wages and benefits to their workers. Of course, in Japan, these same companies recognize and work with unions, but not here, where they have a chance to undercut American firms that work with unions. Corker and these other great patriots want to allow these Japanese companies to dictate the wages and benefits that American companies pay their workers. It’s despicable. Imagine, for a moment, American companies being allow to operate in this manner in Japan or South Korea. It would not happen.

Country first, you betcha.