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GM, Ford - Won't Pledge to Buy American

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GM, Ford - Won't Pledge to Buy American

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D, OH) asking GM, Ford, and Crysler,
'Will you buy American if we give you taxpayer dollars?'


Michael Collins

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"Scoop" Independent News

(Wash. DC)  The CEO's of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler were in the Capitol  Thursday asking for $34 billion dollars to stay in business for the next few months.  The three companies are now at the top of the corporate "dead pool," with a bankruptcy for GM possible by the end of the year.  They appeared before the Senate Committee o Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D, OH) provided one of the most telling moments when he asked the three chiefs to commit to continued purchasing from United States automotive suppliers at the same or increased levels in return for federal bailout funds.

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Suppliers for GM, Ford and Chrysler are located across the country.  A GM bankruptcy would resonate through the aftermarket, original equipment (for new cars), and heavy duty parts suppliers creating broad based economic hardship.

The following transcription shows clearly that both GM and Ford failed to commit in any way to Brown's goal - a firm commitment to buy American if they receive taxpayer funds.

U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Dec. 4, 2008 (311-313)

Sen. Brown:  "Auto suppliers, of course, as auto companies, have a lot to worry about these days.  One of the concerns is that tax payer dollars will go into this program and their concern is that they not be used to off shore American supplier jobs ... I'd like just a yes or no on each of the three CEOs, for you to commit and pledge to maintain or increase your US value added content ...if you receive taxpayer support both for  your companies directly that you will increase to increase or  keep the same on  the value added content and on your  suppliers that you use if you'd commit to that if you receive tax dollars."

G. Richard Wagoner (GM):  "I have to look at the data.  Certainly our intention ...  we're finding that the U.S. suppliers are more competitive today in a lot of areas than they've been in years.  I feel like that will be the direction but I'd like to look at the data and respond to you if I could."

Where's the commitment to anything other than a "look at the data" and a request to respond later on?  There is no commitment to buy American.  He was headed in that direction when he said, "Certainly our intention" but then he caught himself and answered with a platitude. On the verge of bankruptcy or worse, GM, the major beneficiary of the bailout, is telling the Senate and the citizens, 'Gee, I can't answer that question right now.'  No promise will follow unless the data looks right.  You'd think that he would know the data, particularly for this hearing.

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Alan Mulally (Ford):  'The vast majority of our research and development  is lead out of the United States.  And we have no plans to change that.'

Ford's CEO must have been distracted when Sen. Brown asked his question.

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