Commentary Magazine


Not Buying It

A majority of the public does not favor a bailout and isn’t buying the Big Three’s excuses. By a margin of 55-42%, they oppose the idea (Republicans and independents oppose it by wider margins, while Democrats narrowly favor it):

Opposition to the automaker bailout is fueled by the widespread perception that the companies themselves are responsible for their predicament, not the faltering economy. In the new poll, three-quarters of Americans said Detroit’s woes are mainly the fault of its own management decisions, and a sizable majority of those who blame the front office object to government help.

The poll didn’t ask about the perceived responsibility (specifically of the UAW), nor did it probe the public’s willingness to support a bailout if the companies were forced to drastically restructure. (However, this Gallup poll shows a large and growing percentage of the public blames the UAW for the failure of the bailout legislation — second only to the car executives. The percentage who blame the union for the problems with the car companies themselves wasn’t measured.)

But in this case the public knows from their own experience that the car companies have been derelict for decades. They haven’t bought from the U.S.-owned car companies for years, while they have bought cars from foreign-owned competitors made in the U.S. So their own life experience contradicts one of the car companies’ main arguments: that the recession has done them in. Actually, they did them in — and the public is onto them.

While the MSM would like to portray this as a crusade against the U.S, car copanies by the mean Republicans, it seems that the public largely shares the GOP’s sentiment. The lack of willingness by the Big Three and labor to participate in a more meaningful way in their own recovery may have been a strategic error. The result is that no one has much sympathy for them — and the taxpayers (who are waking up to the idea that a “government bailout” is a “taxpayers bailout”) are leery about giving them much aid.

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