A junior Republican senator has crafted a plan that has a business-ignorant, vacation-thirsty Congress looking for a fast vote and a plane home. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn) has a direct three-prong plan: cut union wages to match those at foreign-owned, non-union plants in the US, reduce the value of the corporate bonds held by investors in GM and Chrysler by two-thirds. Thirdly, cut cash payments into the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association. That was set up by the car firms and the UAW to handle retiree health care benefits. Corker would have them take half their payments in stock. Corker: “If a company goes bankrupt, these future payments are never going to happen anyway.”
Nothing in the plan about hybrid cars, fuel efficiency, executive pay or any other niceties that have taken up some much attention lately in Congress and among the chattering classes.
Despite being the junior member of the banking committe in the Senate, Corker is direct in his communication and has a strong business background. He's not a lawyer or professsional pol, has never been a lobbyist and not involved in the auto industry.
If the Corker Plan makes it through the politically constipated Senate, it would go to the House which would likely jump at anything allowing members to vote and go home and stay there. The House has alfready adjourned but the ducks and lame ducks could be called next week if the Corker plan floats. The plan is simple, calls for no new bureacracy or deadline in March or other lingering issues beyond the mere survival of GM and Chrysler. No word on what the White House thinks, but, hey, it guts the union contracts so what's not to like?
This is a political last gasp for this calendar year. The new Congress reconvenes in early January. The Whitre House still retains the authority to do something unilaterally after Congress adjourns this session. The Detroit sage continues.