WASHINGTON -- Bail-out fatigue has clearly reached the U.S. Senate.
The Banking Committee spent four hours proving that point Tuesday, grilling the top executives of the Big Three -- or should we say, "Not So Big Anymore Three" -- about whether the $25 billion in loans they are seeking would really save them from their own failures.
"I support efforts to assist the industry, not because their leaders necessarily deserve the taxpayers' help," said the committee chairman, Sen. Chris Dodd. The Connecticut Democrat noted that his constituents are furious that the auto executives are still taking home multimillion-dollar salaries while their industry is collapsing.
And with friends like that, the auto executives must have been thinking: "Who needs Richard
Referring to the bailout plan, Shelby, R-Ala., asked: "Will it be used to improve their business model -- which has been a failure -- product lines, or is this just life support?"
And if you believe Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., life support is the last thing the American auto industry needs.
"There may not be a need for three automakers," Corker said.
So this has what the industry has come to. Half a century after a GM chairman said that what's good for GM is good for America, senators like Corker just don't believe that anymore.
On the other side you will find GM Chairman Richard Wagoner, who warned that GM's failure would trigger a "tsunami" that would wipe out its suppliers, its dealers, 3 million jobs and maybe even the remaining Big 2.
So, who do you believe?
-- Jerry Zremski