Diary

Democrats Treating Car Dealerships as Jobs Program

Roll Call reports that Democrats in Congress are starting to get serious about forcing the Obama administration to reduce the number of auto dealership closings:

Lawmakers concerned about car dealerships being forced to close amid General Motors and Chrysler restructuring moved fast this week to shine the spotlight on the matter — and seem to have gotten the attention they wanted.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations announced Tuesday that it will hold a hearing on Friday to weigh the recent auto dealership closures announced by Chrysler and GM, both of which are in the throes of government-structured bankruptcies. Chrysler plans to close 789 dealerships this week; GM wants to nix about 2,500 of its 6,000 dealerships by the end of next year.

Chairman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said the subpanel will hear from Chrysler and GM executives on the criteria used for determining which dealerships will close and what options are being offered to dealerships slated for closure.

News of the hearing comes a day after nearly 100 Democrats — including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) — sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to keep profitable car dealerships in business as GM and Chrysler enter bankruptcy under the guidance of the Obama’s auto task force.

Hoyer and Van Hollen will also take part in a Wednesday news event to highlight legislation aimed at stopping the forced closure of dealerships. Both are cosponsors of the bill, introduced Monday by freshman Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.).

It was a week ago that Barack Obama declared ‘what I have no interest in doing is running GM.’ Now House Democrats are seeking to do precisely that. It is widely accepted that Chrysler and GM have far more dealerships than are supported by their business plans. They have far more than Honda and Toyota, for one. Yet House Democrats are more concerned with preserving jobs than they are with ensuring that the new GM is a success.

In other words, they regard these government sponsored entities as jobs programs, rather than as companies. Just like every other unionized job in the federal government, Congress wants to make sure that these government employees hang around.