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Michigan Congressman defends Chrysler aid

by Bill Cawthon on

Gary Peters, Democratic Congressman from Bloomfield Township, has taken issue with remarks made by former Republican Presidential candidate John MacCain. While serving as grand marshal at a NASCAR event in Arizona, McCain said, “Anybody believes that Chrysler is going to survive, I’d like to meet them.”

Peters accepted the challenge in a letter, saying he “will meet with you at your convenience to discuss the future of Chrysler and the contribution they make to our nation’s economy.” Peters added, “Better yet, I’d be more than happy to bring you to my district to meet with thousands of Americans who are working hard every day to design new and exciting vehicles and ensure the continued future of the American automobile industry. Hopefully then you might choose to be a partner in the continued success of an industry critically important to our country.”

Peters also contested McCain’s claim the United Auto Workers refused to renegotiate existing contracts. In fact, the UAW agreed to a number of contract changes, including an agreement to allow new workers to be hired at half the existing contract rate, to help Chrysler and GM before they filed for bankruptcy.

McCain declined to back down, other than to clarify his remarks, changing “Anyone” to “Any objective observer.” In a reply to Peters’ letter, McCain said, “As I am sure you know, I have spent a considerable amount of time in Michigan over the years, and have seen firsthand the great work achieved by the citizens of Michigan. Their perseverance merits praise.”

McCain’s remarks seem to be part of a GOP effort to discredit the efforts of Chrysler and General Motors to recover and become profitable again. Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, seized upon GM’s announcement of a third-quarter loss, saying this was “further proof that President Obama’s economic experiments are wrong for America.”

Steele’s comments ignore the fact that the bailouts were started under President George W. Bush after he and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson engineered an almost-no-strings-attached, $750 billion bailout of Paulson’s cronies on Wall Street. Furthermore, at the beginning of the third quarter, General Motors was in bankruptcy. In addition, GM’s sales in the most recent reported month were actually ahead of October 2008, marking the General’s first month-over-month improvement in almost two years.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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