In my opinion, Sen. Richard Shelby (photo below) is a saboteur. Shelby, who is leading an attempt to block a desperately needed government loan to the domestic car companies, may not realize it; he may think he is simply defending the 134,000 jobs that foreign auto assembly plants have brought to his state of Alabama. But he and the other Republican lawmakers involved in the loan blockade threaten the very survival of America’s economy.
You see, Alabama has nurtured a non-union auto industry of its own – based on importing pieces of cars and screwing them together and calling it manufacturing. The state has three of these “automakers” – Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai – which benefit from taxpayer subsidies and union-busting legislation. The federal government (under Republican control) sat by for years and watched Southern states like Alabama woo foreign auto companies with tax breaks and right-to-work laws, breeding a second auto industry that could eventually break the United Auto Workers Union and destroy the Big Three.
Now that this year’s general elections have left the Republican Party encapsulated in the Deep South, it is no surprise that Republican lawmakers are fighting tooth and nail to finish off the domestic auto industry.
In their narrow view, it doesn’t matter if the Big Three go under, throwing three million people out of work and propelling the nation into another Great Depression. Their expectation is that in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky and other Southern “right-to-work” states, foreign-owned car makers will thrive after their homegrown competition is erased. But what they might not realize is that if the Big Three go under, the ripple effect will mean no one in America will have money to buy the cars assembled in those southern states – or elsewhere.
There is an even more frightening danger. Without a domestic manufacturing industry, who will build the armaments and produce the munitions that a state of war would demand? China? Japan? Korea? If China invades Taiwan – as it might at any moment – do you think China would provide us with arms to defend Taiwan?
The fate of America hangs in the balance. Congress must not let the narrow partisan interests of Republican legislators destroy the nation’s economy.