President Obama’s ham-handed ultimatum to Chrysler’s “secured” creditors promises to have adverse consequences beyond just rewarding the UAW for helping to drive the company into the ground. At Real Clear Markets, Bill Frezza asks some excellent questions:
Why would anyone lend money to heavily unionized companies knowing that if things went wrong, the president and his men could trash their security interests by executive decree, hold them up to public vilification, and subject them to future retribution by regulators?
Why would anyone buy the shares of TARP-backed banks or invest alongside them knowing that their executives have proven their willingness to sacrifice shareholders’ interests and throw co-investors under the bus any time the president snaps his fingers?
Why would foreigners buy the distressed debt of American companies knowing that this debt cannot be secured by law but only by political clout? …
The fate of Chrysler and its workers pale in comparison to the wrecking ball that would be taken to economic order if bankruptcy judge Arthur Gonzalez approves the administration’s plan to give Chrysler’s secured creditors the shaft. And what prize will we-the-people get in return? A doomed third-rate car company majority owned by its militant union run by Italian management building congressionally designed “green” cars no one wants to buy financed by taxpayers into perpetuity because no private investor in their right mind will touch the company with a ten foot pole. Is this supposed to be economic policy or comic opera?
Hat tip: Neo.
From his new op-ed perch as a New York Times token two-fer (conservative and bearded), Ross Douthat bids good riddance to Arlen Specter, and reminds us that ideas are more powerful than partisanship:
The Reagan-era wave of Republican policy innovation — embodied, among others, by the late Jack Kemp — has calcified in much the same way that liberalism calcified a generation ago. And so in place of hacks and deal-makers, the Republican Party needs its own version of the neoliberals and New Democrats — reform-minded politicians like Gary Hart and Bill Clinton, who helped the Democratic Party recover from the Reagan era, instead of just surviving it.
Hart, Clinton and their peers were critical of their own side’s orthodoxies, but you couldn’t imagine them jumping ship to join the Republicans. They were deeply rooted in liberal politics, but they had definite ideas for how the Democratic Party could learn from its mistakes, and from its opponents, in order to further liberalism’s deeper goals.
No equivalent faction — rooted in conservatism, but eager for innovation — exists in the Republican Party today. Maybe something like it can grow out of the listening tour that various Republican power players are embarking on this month. Maybe it can bubble up outside the Beltway — from swing-state governors like Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, or reformists in deep-red states, like the much-touted Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Utah’s Jon Huntsman. But to succeed, such a faction will have to represent something legitimately new in right-of-center politics. It can’t sound like Rush Limbaugh — but it can’t sound like Arlen Specter either.
With apologies to William Buckley, conservatism needs to be about more than just “standing athwart history, yelling Stop.” Sometimes it’s appropriate to yell Stop, but there’s got to be more than that. The clash of competing ideas has served America well over the long run, and I expect it will continue to do so.