A Republican congressman seeking a $25 billion bailout of the troubled U.S. auto industry made a stunning statement about taxpayer funds to benefit Detroit, claiming, “It is not your money.”
Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich., made the remark during a discussion with Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto yesterday as the pair debated sending billions of federal dollars to prop up the Big Three carmakers.
Cavuto asked Knollenberg: “When the housing industry CEOs come to you and say, ‘You know, [if] we go under and all the ancillary businesses – the dishwasher manufacturers, the washer-and-dryer manufacturers, the Lowe’s and the Home Depots that vastly depend on our being alive and vibrant – if we go under, there’s hell to pay. And then the textile manufacturer comes to you and says, ‘If we go down, there’s hell to pay.’ And on and on and on we go. Where do you draw the line with our money?”
“It is not your money,” said Knollenberg.
Cavuto screamed back, “It is! It is taxpayers money!”
Knollenberg claimed dealers are not selling cars right now because “there’s no credit to get.”
He explained, “If we could just remove that problem, and this is what we’re trying to do, then we’d be in the position to sell cars.”
Cavuto fired back: “There’s nothing in the $25 billion or $50 billion that will open up credit for folks to buy cars that in good times and bad, they had not wanted to get from these guys.”
Knollenberg explained, “The purpose of the $25 billion is to give them some money for the time being to make sure they stay alive, that they stay in place.”
He claimed there would be a massive negative ripple effect through the economy if even one of the major automakers is allowed to fail.
Cavuto closed the discussion by saying, “Congressman, there’s a line of people behind them who are going to make a similar argument. I hope you’re ready for it.”
Knollenberg held his seat for 16 years in the House of Representatives, but was just defeated this month by Democrat Gary Peters, who will be the first Democrat to hold that district since 1893.
Today on the CBS “Early Show,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. said automakers should file for bankruptcy and fire their management.
“I don’t believe that they have immediate plans to change their model, which is a model of failure,” Shelby said.
He argued against any bailout, saying, “It will just prolong the agony. These companies are failures now, unless we get rid of the management.”
The full extent of Knollenberg’s appearance can be seen here.
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