Sunday, November 23, 2008

If the Roles Were Reversed...

Commentary by Frank Beckmann via the The Detroit News, on what the automakers should have asked their Congressmen at the show-hearings last week:

Why did members of Congress -- such as House Banking Chairman Barney Frank, Senate Banking Chairman Christoper Dodd and others -- raise fuel economy standards, adding more than $85 billion in costs as the industry was restructuring itself?

If the reason was forcing automakers to deal with higher gasoline prices, perhaps the politicians could explain why they have made fuel more scarce by blocking domestic drilling for oil and preventing new refineries from being built during the past three decades.

If global warming was the reason, perhaps the politicians could explain why some scientists now point to cooling temperatures while carbon dioxide levels continue to rise.

Our politicians like to claim the automakers have been slow to react to changing consumer demand. Perhaps they'd care to explain U.S. Energy Department figures that show flex-fuel vehicles, many made by the Detroit Three, accounted for a mere 6 percent of sales in 2007, while hybrid vehicle sales accounted for 2.6 percent of the market.

Politicians who insist on claiming that foreign manufacturers emphasize "green" technology over muscle might explain why sales last year of Toyota Tacoma and Tundra trucks were 30 percent higher than its hybrid vehicle sales.

Next, the execs and Gettelfinger could begin querying lawmakers about the credit crisis, born of government decisions that forced tens of billions of dollars in loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to borrowers who were unqualified and high credit risks. This, in turn, has led to the reduced availability of credit for potential car buyers and helped send auto sales plunging.

All good questions, if you ask me.

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