Somewhat good news for a Friday morning, or, why professional lobbyists should stick to opining on what they know: lobbying

Where I live, this is good news:

Taxpayers bailed out much of the U.S. auto industry. Now the carmakers might be what saves the nation’s economy from falling back into recession. After a massive restructuring and several high-profile bankruptcies, a leaner, more aggressive auto industry is making a comeback, hiring workers and ramping up manufacturing plants. From a trough two years ago, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Chrysler Group and other auto companies have added almost 90,000 manufacturing jobs, a 14% increase, according to federal employment data.

And it’s not just the Big Three American manufacturers that are thriving. Nissan, VW and other foreign-based firms are expanding in the United States, putting billions of dollars into building and refurbishing plants. Start-ups Tesla Motors in Palo Alto, Fisker Automotive in Anaheim and Coda Automotive in L.A. are hiring and spending hundreds of millions of dollars designing and launching electric and hybrid vehicles. Dealers are having a banner year, making more money per sale than they have in years and hiring back some workers shed during the recession.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for autos and auto parts jumped 11.5% in July, the most in eight years. That followed an earlier government report on industrial production that showed the auto industry was the strongest segment of the manufacturing economy last month.

This kind of expansion is important to the economy. Including factories, suppliers and dealers, the U.S. auto industry employs about 1.7 million workers and supports an additional 6.3 million private-sector jobs, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. The center said those positions represent more than $500 billion in annual compensation and more than $70 billion in personal tax revenue.

They were heading back into the 13-million range — helped by a wave of new models, low interest rates and improving consumer confidence — only to be upended by the Japanese earthquake in March. Shutdowns at Japanese-owned factories in Japan and the United States created inventory shortages that led to sharply higher car prices, lower demand and hundreds of thousands of lost sales for dealers. But with those disruptions now in the rearview mirror, the industry is looking for sales to improve over the rest of the year.

Back when millionaire media personalities and conservatives were hoping that the auto industry would fail I remember reading lobbyist/unelected lawmaker Grover Norquist opining on the pages of Politico.

Norquist was quoted during that period as (I guess) an expert on the auto industry. Baffling, to me. As far as I can tell the only thing Grover Norquist has ever done in his entire career is pressure elected lawmakers on behalf of moneyed interests. I have no idea why anyone would ask him anything about manufacturing. He’s a lobbyist. That’s what he does and that’s all he’s ever done.

I think if I were interviewing Norquist I’d ask him about the Abramoff Congressional scandal. He might know a lot about that, and his knowledge there might be interesting and informative to readers. But making and selling a tangible product? Nah. Norquist doesn’t know anything about that.

In any event here’s what the wealthy libertarian lobbyist said in 2009:

“This is somewhere in between Baghdad and fixing the flood in Louisiana,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said, comparing the GM decision to major stumbles by former President George W. Bush. Obama “has decided to take this over. He now owns it.”

Here’s now-majority leader John Boehner, another expert on lobbying and not much else, who, incredibly, represents a district in the rust-belt state of Ohio:

“The pattern here is pretty clear,” House Minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday. “Every time the president makes a so-called tough decision, it’s the American middle class that gets hit the hardest.”

33 replies
  1. 1
    Dennis SGMM says:

    The auto industry recovery is directly attributable to the groundwork laid down by President George W. Bush.
    /snark

  2. 2
    Culture of Truth says:

    There’s a lot one could say about this, but isn’t it striking how every time the GOP really wants to slam Obama, they compare his actions to one of many, really big, mistakes made by last Republican President?

  3. 3
    Kay says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    It’s funny, because there’s truth in that. But. The idiot big-mouths on the Right had to jump all over it because Phase Two was Obama, and, of course, union thugs and middle class workers had to punished for….something.

    There’s lots and lots and lots of quotes out there from conservatives :)

    They don’t lack a free megaphone, conservatives. I’ll give them that. They’re just a little too quick off the mark.

  4. 4

    Not only is the US auto industry recovering, the rescue money has long been paid back. The stock that the govt got as partial payment at the time of rescue is being sold [at a profit]. The “bailout” turned out to be an investment and a pretty good one at that.

  5. 5

    Obama took the shit from both the left and right for his interventions in both the finance world and auto industry, pulling both of those vital industries back from the ledge of the abyss.

    And for his trouble, he got called a soshulist from the right, and a corporatist republican from the left.

    The wingnuts are hopeless in their sea of lies for political gain, and deflection from their primary culprit status. The left is not hopeless, though some days it seems so, and all of us should take a moment of silence to ponder the world we would be living in now, if Obama had not rescued General Motors, and it’s deep and abiding roots in our culture and economy, or let AIG go under, with even deeper economic roots throughout the world economy.

    That might be a tad more productive, rather than sitting around all day wondering who stole the PO, or about how Obama sold out whatever.

    And the thought of the day could be with this little ray of sunshine

    We’ve gotta try to keep our heads until this good news craze blows over! …

    At ease soldier, and carry on.

  6. 6
    rlrr says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    But people who get there information from Fox “News” and talk radio will never know any of that…

  7. 7
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    I long for the day when nobody asks Grover Fucking Norquist about a goddamn thing. The man is treacherous slime.

  8. 8
    Kay says:

    @General Stuck:

    Stuck, I know you know this, but don’t take national media as a barometer of what people hear or know. The Toledo paper (for example) follows the auto industry recovery closely. Understandably. I’m sure the same is true in Michigan.
    There’s the national media narrative and then there’s local reality. If it’s getting better in manufacturing (fingers crossed, right?) people here will know that.
    It’s not all cable news and opinion. It just seems like it is, on the internet :)

  9. 9

    It always amuses me when the Prez is called a soshulist. Obama is actually an effective capitalist. I sometimes wonder just how much he could have harvested if he had gone into one of the big money segments of the economy instead of community organizing.

  10. 10
    Kay says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    I looked at his last tax return. He’s sold a hell of a lot of books. I don’t know why that doesn’t “count” in conservative circles as making money, but, inexplicably, it doesn’t.
    Maybe if he survived off donations to a conservative PAC, like Norquist?

    Free markets! Free money!

  11. 11

    @Kay:

    You are correct of national media being largely irrelevant at least for local effects of this or that happening;. And I don’t believe cable or other national media has a big short term impact on what people think. But all of it together, over a lengthened period of time, does get into our national consciousness with broad memes that often are varying degrees of complete bullshit.

    I just hope MI and OH locals realize that they were saved from a much bigger personal econ hell, than the one that happened. Sounds like OH voters are getting it, not so sure about MI though.

  12. 12
    kay says:

    @General Stuck:

    It has to happen first. It’s not happening yet. Around here, the accepted local wisdom is that the best workers get called back, and then they get tons of overtime, and then more workers (and new hires) get called back or start. They don’t bring them all back because they don’t want to pay benefits until they know the situation is stable. They’re rather pay overtime, because they can throttle that back quickly if it stalls.
    I saw the best workers get called back, I saw tons of overtime, and then it sort of stalled.
    So. We’ll see.

  13. 13
    xian says:

    @Culture of Truth: right, and they seem to think every president has their own “Katrina” instead of recognizing it as a unprecedented boner of massive proportions.

  14. 14
    Brian S says:

    @Kay: Maybe because they think he’s sold a lot of books th same way Ann Coulter’s sold a lot of books? Or because they don’t think he’s actually sold them, that the numbers are inflated by the soshulist New York Times.

    Or maybe they can’t read and assume no one else can either.

  15. 15
    kay says:

    @Brian S:

    Or maybe they can’t read and assume no one else can either.

    I think it’s because they’re not really free market enthusiasts. I never understood why they loathe the US movie industry, for example. It pays decent all the way down the job scale and it’s a huge US export. What’s not to like, from a market standpoint? Because they disagree with (some) of the content or the political view of (some) of the participants? Isn’t that anti-free market? Aren’t they “picking winners and losers” with this wacky demonization of that particular industry?

  16. 16
    Bill H. says:

    According to the Wall Street Journal in June, “The White House said Wednesday that taxpayers could lose roughly $14 billion of the money spent on auto industry bailouts, despite the industry’s recent recovery.” So that works out to $155,555 per job. That’s not cheap, but it’s not outlandishly expensive, either, and it leaves the employment base (investment) intact. One would have to score that in the short term a little expensive, but in the long term a pretty good win.

  17. 17
    Brian S says:

    @kay:

    It pays decent all the way down the job scale

    The free market dictates that the people at the top get paid tons and that everyone else gets piss and should be happy to get it. And they all imagine themselves as the people at the top.

  18. 18
    ZigoMandelbaum says:

    @arguingwithsignposts, “I long for the day when nobody asks Grover Fucking Norquist about a goddamn thing. The man is treacherous slime.” Thanks, this can’t be said enough.

    As for this automotive miracle, ain’t it propped up once again by what will become the next bubble, credit offered to buyers who can’t really swing it? And, aren’t we right back to the idiocy of planned obsolescence? I have had conversations with people recently who say they’re hanging on to the ride they have, no matter how nice the new stock is. I saw an ad on the telly last night for an Audi for $79,000. Is that the stuff of the impulse buy?

  19. 19
    ericblair says:

    @Brian S:

    Maybe because they think he’s sold a lot of books th same way Ann Coulter’s sold a lot of books? Or because they don’t think he’s actually sold them, that the numbers are inflated by the soshulist New York Times.

    Data falls outside acceptable ideological limits. Data ignored. Proceeding with original program.

  20. 20
    kay says:

    @Bill H.:

    I don’t think you can limit the benefit to the two bailed-out companies, though. Ford and Toyota didn’t.

    “People look at this industry and see six big silos,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Sales USA vice president, referring to the three American and top three Japanese carmakers, GM, Chrysler , Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Honda, that between them dominate sales in the U.S. “But once you get below that it’s like peeling an onion, it’s all intertwined,” he said.
    Not only is Toyota concerned about the fate of the components suppliers its manufacturing operations share with GM and Chrysler, but it also has concerns about its dealer network, Carter said.

    I think all those southern GOP Senators who were screaming about picking winners and losers should be asked about that. You know, asked why their depiction of events and benefits re: the bail out doesn’t match that of the the manufacturers located in their states. Asked about reality, and how things are “intertwined”.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    He also is a superb example of exactly the wrong type to give any attention to: a trust fund baby desperately trying to protect his utterly unearned nest egg from everyone else.

  22. 22
    kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    There’s something very wrong with someone who compares a government bail-out to Iraq. I’m not aware of any enormous loss of life associated with propping up auto manufacturing. That he says these things and no one in media responds with shock and horror at such a sick comparison is just further proof that they’re all soul-dead zombies, IMO.

  23. 23
    Interrobang says:

    all of us should take a moment of silence to ponder the world we would be living in now, if Obama had not rescued General Motors, and it’s deep and abiding roots in our culture and economy

    Given that General Motors is a serial corporate criminal that has been happily flouting antitrust laws more or less since its founding, likes to drive its competitors out of business, has a massively vertically integrated supply chain (more monopolistic behaviour), and engaged in a number of legal criminal conspiracies in order to ensure its market dominance, we would be living in a much better world if GM had ceased to exist.

    Shame it couldn’t have been shut down decades ago before it decided to use its leverage as the world’s largest freight shipper to destroy most of the US’ highly-efficient and high-speed electric railways (replacing them with its own much less efficient diesels, which also have a much shorter operating lifespan); or before it decided to do a pretty good job of wrecking numerous public transit systems worldwide, thus leaving most of us in the unenviable position of having to own a car, how convenient.

    GM was created to be a Gilded Age trust, and as such, deserves the corporate equivalent of a firing squad, as far as I’m concerned.

  24. 24
    TenguPhule says:

    I long for the day when nobody asks Grover Fucking Norquist about a goddamn thing. The man is treacherous slime.

    I long for the day when the final question asked to Norquist is “Do you want a Blindfold?”

  25. 25
    Dr.BDH says:

    Of course, all these jobs were personally created by Rick Perry.

  26. 26

    @Interrobang:

    Well, they ain’t sweethearts, but neither are any of the other auto manufacturers, nor big corps as a general rule. And “legal criminal conspiracies”, WTF does that even mean?

    The point I am making, is like with AIG, if GM and it’s satellite industries were to have suddenly become no more, the economic impact, especially at the time or other calamities with the economy, like the Wall Street big finance clusterfuck, would have been catastrophic for the public and real world.

    The only people that don’t care about that are the nihilists ideologues on the left and right. And I don’t care about them. Not even a little, left or right.

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Chris says:

    @kay:

    I think it’s because they’re not really free market enthusiasts. I never understood why they loathe the US movie industry, for example. It pays decent all the way down the job scale and it’s a huge US export. What’s not to like, from a market standpoint? Because they disagree with (some) of the content or the political view of (some) of the participants? Isn’t that anti-free market? Aren’t they “picking winners and losers” with this wacky demonization of that particular industry?

    Closet truth about conservatives; they don’t actually like the free market very much. They’re taught that free market = best possible outcomes, assume that means free market = the outcome they want. But when capitalism fails to produce the outcome they want (which happens alarmingly often), they flip a shit and start squealing about liberal bias, political correctness, the stifling of this or that freedom. The real answer (market forces) is staring them in the face, but they can’t admit that capitalism’s to “blame,” can they?

    Their obsessive, schizophrenic relationship with Hollywood, which you picked out, is probably the best example of that. Also their relationship with our crude, oversexualized, young-people-corrupting pop culture in general (boobs sell better than Bible verses). Also the entire thing with illegal immigration (Hispanics take jobs “Real Americans” won’t and without them, Georgian agriculture isn’t doing so hot).

    Or, just every time the free market’s been allowed to run amok just like they want it to, flown itself off the rails, created a result they don’t like (an economic crisis), and then it becomes the fault of the liberals, black people and other Enemies Of The People.

  29. 29
    mclaren says:

    So this is your idea for reviving the American economy, Kay?

    Seriously?

    Really?

    Peak Oil is hurtling toward us like a 10-mile-tall tsunami, Deutsche Bank predicts that within the next 15 years we’re going to be facing $175-a-barrel oil and the end of the automobile age, and the best we can come up with is…hey! Let’s BUILD MORE CARS! YEAHHHHH!

    Why not start some buggy whip manufacturing plants?

    How about breaking ground on a bunch of new corset-weaving factories?

    And while we’re at it, we could kickstart America’s buttonhook-manufacturing capacity…

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @mclaren:

    Who says these autos need to run on petroleum, exclusively?

  31. 31
    mclaren says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Who says these autos need to run on petroleum, exclusively?

    Once again missing the point entirely.

    The notion of personal cars as the method of transportion in America is over. Gone. Kaput.

    Trying to keep America’s Happy Motoring culture (built on unrealistically cheap and plentiful 1950s oil) going by substituting electric batteries for gasoline, or synfuels for gasoline, or biofuels for gasoline, is like jamming a daiquiri in a corpse’s hand and slapping a sunhat on its rotting head and proclaiming, “Look! He’s still alive!”

    Personal automobiles are too grossly inefficient to survive. The energy required to haul around 3000 lbs of glass and steel and alnuminum and rubber tires just isn’t available on the scale required to sustain America’s Happy Motoring culture. Doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about energy from solar cells (there isn’t enough indium on earth to manufacture all the solar cells that would be required to generate enough electricity to power America’s current fleet of cars if they ran on batteries) or energy from nuclear power (even if we began today, we would need to build around 700 nuclear power plants to provide that much electric energy — and consider the wild hysteria provoked over just the meltdown of 3 Japanese power plants in order to see how unrealistic it is to ask the American population to overcome their irrational terror of nuclear poewr to the extent of building 700 of ’em starting tomorrow), or whether we’re talking about biofuels (the entire American agricultural crop would have to be devoted excusively to producing biofuels in order to provide enough organic fuel to power America’s current fleet of single-passenger cars), or whether we’re talking about solar power satellites (which would require an estimated 300 trips by the space shuttle just to construct 1 solar power sallite: and nowthat the space shuttle is gone, how do we do that, exactly?), the scale of energy we would need to keep America’s fleet of single-passenger cars going is simply mind-boggling.

    It is far far far far far out of the realm of practicality in the age of Peak Oil.

    The practical solution is not a failed and futile effort to continue the Happy Motoring Culture of the 1950s.

    The practical solution to Peak Oil involves getting rid of cars as the dominant mode of transportation and rebuilding our cities, depopulating the suburbs, creating vastly more light rail and an entirely new and separate passenger rail system in America (at present all American passenger trains share tracks with America’s freight trains, which is grossly inefficient) along with building infrastructure for much smaller vehicles like electric bicycles and mopeds.

    Investments in the American passenger car manufacturing capacity take needed money and engineering expertise away from the crucial industries we really need to invest in for 21st century transportion: light rail, mopeds, the redesign of our cities, bullet train passenger railways, and so on. Boasting over the momentary revival of America’s dying passenger car industry is like the captain of the Titanic boasting when the ship heaves upward at the bow just before it breaks in half and slides under, “Look! We’re not sinking anymore!”

  32. 32
    honus says:

    @Kay: books, hah, what an elitist thing. Call me when the man eats a corn dog.

  33. 33
    KS says:

    As someone who has lived or quasi-lived in John Boehner’s congressional district nearly all my life (my parents have lived in the same house since 1990, represented by Buzz Lukens for like 3 months and Boehner ever since, and I am 28 years old), I can tell you that while Ohio is a rust belt state, the 8th CD is not very rusty or belty. Boehner pretty much represents a combination of the rich suburbs of Cincinnati and the rich suburbs of Dayton. Throw in some filler farm land (and this until it conflagrated in such a manner that I, for a second, thought God may exist), and pretty much the only liberal thing in his district is the Hustler store. Most of the professionals in this area are not young, and it’s easy to see why this R+14 district has been in GOP hands since I can remember. (Wikipedia says that this district hasn’t had a Democrat representative since the Great Depression.) There is little to no manufacturing here, and this district is the perfect blend of upper-middle class and Pennsyltucky to vote Tea Party, both socially and as Randbots. (NB: Upper-middle class means that, as the middle class disappears, these are the lucky few who will end up “rich” instead of – to use a technical term – “fucked.”)

    Honestly, this is probably why Boehner is so terrified of the Tea Party and why he refuses to compromise. He represents a combination of money interests and batshit bible-thumpers (see Big Butter Jesus, above) that makes him expendable if he doesn’t toe the Tea Party line. He’s still a big orange crybaby who has always been a corporate republican and I haven’t ever voted for him, but it’s unsurprising that a prick like him can get elected in this congressional district of this rust-belt state that is one of the few states left with a “large” (relatively speaking) union population.

Comments are closed.