Congress, please, give the U.S. automakers their bailout and be done with it. I mean, it's not like you don't want to -- you just want to show the folks back home that you're really serious about this whole financial mess.
So you made General Motors (NYSE: GM ) , Ford (NYSE: F ) , and Chrysler act appropriately contrite when they came asking for a handout. They're not allowed to fly in on their corporate jets, so they made a big show of coming to Washington in their green hybrid cars. They wrote "What I Did This Summer to Earn Your Favor" for you. Hey, did you even read GM's book report? GM said its ad campaigns following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks singlehandedly kept the economy out of a longer recession. And here I thought it had been David Letterman weepily telling us it was OK to laugh again.
But this is getting expensive. Remember when the automakers wanted "only" $25 billion? Well, the longer you wait to give them their (our) money, the more it's going to cost us. Now the tab is up to $34 billion.
Of course, Ford is playing coy. Ford says it doesn't really want the money. But if GM or Chrysler muck things up by, say, taking a dirt nap, well, then, Ford will just have to join everyone else plundering Treasury and grab its share, too.
All the bigshots running the companies are willing to pitch in as well. Rick Wagoner and Alan Mulally are both willing to work for just a buck a year! And Bob Nardelli, even as he runs away from Home Depot's angry mobs, can afford to do so as well. But they're not going to work for chump change unless you give them their loans.
Forget bankruptcy. GM keeps telling us that's not an option, because the ripple effects throughout the economy would be too great. If you thought the collapse of the financial sector was too great to sustain and that you had to bail out Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) , American International Group (NYSE: AIG ) , and half of the other banks and investments houses on Wall Street as a result, you ain't seen nothing yet.
C'mon! Even Hank Paulson probably wants to give the automakers money -- just not with his TARP funds. But if you just came up with something else, why, I'm sure he'd sign on to it. Heck, he's willing to bail out housing, mortgage companies, and credit card companies for $800 billion. You think a few billion for the carmakers is going to worry him?
Dragging this out isn't going to help the automakers. You wanted the Big Three to jump through hoops for you and they did, so give them the money, already. You've already injected the government into the economy in such a massive way that this dithering over the carmakers is embarrassing.
We all know it's not going to help, just as giving Citigroup (NYSE: C ) its first $25 billion or so did nothing. The Detroit Three will probably be back for more before long, since no one wants to buy a car these days, not even from Toyota (NYSE: TM ) or Honda (NYSE: HMC ) , whose sales have fallen through the floor just like everyone else's.
But you've showed the voters you've got some backbone and that you can stand up to the jet-setting corporate executives. That's great. That's all you were really interested in. The long-term effects of what's proposed here is of little consequence. So be done with it. Then we can get onto the business of looking for the next industry in need of a handout.