RUSH: Now, here's Greg Burns at the Chicago Tribune today: "General Motors assembly plant making Yukons, Tahoes and Escalades has put its workers on overtime. And dealers from Texas to Montana report that the big vehicles clogging up their lots for months like so much radioactive waste have started moving again, albeit at slashed prices." So people are buying SUVs with the price going down. What does this mean? There are some certain things about the American and his car that we know. Americans have an individual relationship with their car. They love their cars and they like 'em big. When they can get them, when they can afford them, they like them big. Every chance Americans have to buy big cars when they're affordable, when the gas price is affordable, they go out and buy big cars. They transport the family in them. They're safe. Americans want big cars. And so what has happened here is, well, there's a whole series of things that have happened.
Listen to these numbers here. The Big Three automakers are forced to pay idle UAW autoworkers 85 to 95% of union wages and benefits indefinitely, even if their plants are closed. We had a call last week from a guy who told us about the "job bank." You're outta work; you still get paid. But they find a job for you at a plant in a town other than where you live. You don't have to go there to get the job. You can stay in the job bank and get paid. One expert testified on Capitol Hill. This is a quote from an expert testimony on Capitol Hill: "Right now if a plant closes in St. Louis and a new one opens in Kansas City, the workers don't have to move from St. Louis to Kansas City. They can opt to get a $105,000 payout or they can go on jobs bank where they can collect 95% of their pay for the rest of their lives. Industry analysts say that union labor agreements that obligate the Big Three to pay millions of dollars to workers who are no longer working, those agreements are a major reason why the automakers are in trouble, a problem that no short-term bailout can fix. For example, General Motors is contractually obliged to allocate $2.1 billion in job bank payments over four years." Now, the job bank, again, is where unemployed workers can get 95% of their paycheck for the rest of their lives without having to move to where there is a job. Those obligations, GM's alone, $2.1 billion over the next four years.
Let's go to the audio sound bites. This is an example here of some of the comments made over the weekend on Obama's tax cut. Brokaw was talking to former Commerce secretary Bill Daley on Meet the Press. "The New York Times has reported today that in light of the downturn Mr. Obama is also said to be reconsidering a campaign promise -- his proposal -- to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. According to several people familiar with the discussions, he might instead let those tax cuts expire as scheduled in 2011, effectively delaying any tax increase while he gives his stimulus plan a chance to work. Is that your understanding, Mr. Daley?"
DALEY: More likely than not, Tom. But the president-elect is very committed to the fact that there must be greater equity in the responsibility of taxes in this country. We must bring tax relief to the middle class. He has said this now for two years, as he's been out there on the campaign. And he's going to deliver on that. That's an integral part of his economic recovery package next year, is to bring some tax relief to the American people and the vast majority who are in the middle class, not those of us who do much better than that.
RUSH: It's always "those of us who do much better." We don't need it, those of us. They're always eager to place themselves here in the top income tax rate -- and, as you know, there are already large numbers of Americans paying no income tax, so if they're going to get a tax cut it's going to be a welfare payment or the equivalent. James Baker was on Meet the Press also. Tom Brokaw said, "Secretary Baker, is there anything short of bankruptcy the Republicans would sign off on to help Detroit?"
BAKER: What I think the president-elect could do in this case is take a page from President Ronald Reagan's book back in 1987, when every major automobile company chief executive came in pounding on my desk as secretary of the Treasury and then over at the Oval Office, demanding protection against Japanese and Korean imports. It wasn't easy for President Reagan to do this, but he said, "Wait a minute. I'm not going to do that. We believe in free trade. What you're going to have to do is get competitive. You're going to have downsize and streamline," and they did that.
RUSH: There's James Baker advising Obama, but that's not going to be the case. See, this crisis is an opportunity for them to advance like never before their radical leftist agenda on as much of the fabric of the country as possible, including the auto companies. Brokaw then said, "But, look, they lost their way, and a lot of people blame this administration and others for always pushing back when people wanted to raise the CAFE standards on mileage, not saying anything about Detroit and its great binge when it came to SUVs and big gas guzzling vehicles of all kinds."
BAKER: First, that's a big part of the problem, but another large part of the problem is that they're simply not competitive. Given the pension benefit obligations that they've incurred over the years under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and given the wage rates and salaries that they pay. I mean, other automobile companies come into this country, they locate in the South or the West and they build cars and they build them very effectively and very competitively.
RUSH: Gotta take a brief time-out. We'll do that, be back right after this.
RUSH: Ted in Brazelton, Georgia, nice to have you on the EIB Network, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, Rush! Dittocam-watching Rush Baby dittos, buddy.
RUSH: Thank you, sir. How are you?
CALLER: I'm great. This weekend I decided to do my part to help the economy and became one of those statistics you were talking about, and bought a brand-new SUV.
RUSH: Well, good for you. Was it something you really wanted or you were just being patriotic?
CALLER: (laughing) Well, I'd like to think a little bit of both, but actually it was something I really wanted, actually. And, you know, it was practical for the family, too. You know, not everyone can fit their whole family and tow their boat with a little, you know, econobox.
RUSH: Wait a minute, you have a boat?
CALLER: Oh, yeah. Well, it's a sailboat, but it's heavier than most motor boats.
RUSH: You have a boat. Well, you're doing better than I thought. And you still use it? You still tow the boat around?
CALLER: Oh, yeah. All the time.
RUSH: See, I'm looking for something. You have reminded me of something I have buried here. It might apply to you because your sailboat, you have to have a little engine on the back of it, right?
CALLER: Well, this one doesn't, but, yeah. You can put one on there.
RUSH: This is bigger than a toy sailboat, isn't it?
CALLER: Yeah, yeah. It's a 20-foot boat. So I can't run it willy-nilly around the lake or anything like that.
RUSH: Oh, 20 feet. So you don't have a problem maneuvering it into dock. Well, get this. This story is from the Naples (Florida) Daily News, and it was published on Saturday. "There's an ailment afflicting boats in Florida and elsewhere with symptoms of poor performance and clogged fuel systems. The problems may be staved off by preventive measures, but boat owners caught off guard may face repairs that can cost hundreds of dollars -- or even thousands. The culprit is ethanol in gasoline, required in Florida following passage of a law this past spring that gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol, which is called E10 fuel, by the end of 2010. A half-dozen other states have similar laws. By early summer..." Now, stick with me on this, folks. This is just classic.
"By early summer, gas stations statewide began receiving E10 fuel. Notices on pumps say the gas can contain 10 percent ethanol or less. Marinas and airports are exempt and can sell ethanol-free gas. But since spring until recently, many marinas had no choice but to accept E10 fuel. Apart from that, many people with boats on trailers pull up at the gas station or fill portable gas tanks for cheaper fuel, unwittingly setting themselves up for potential disaster. Ethanol is alcohol, and one characteristic of alcohol is that it attracts water, and therefore pulls moisture into vented fuel tanks in boats. If the E10 fuel sits long enough, the water and ethanol separate from the gas, and can cause poor engine performance and damage the fuel system. A second and equally damaging trait of alcohol for boats is that it is a solvent. The ethanol loosens fuel varnish build-up and rust in the fuel tank and that gunk gets carried into the fuel system, potentially clogging and damaging parts, such as carburetors and fuel injectors. Two lawsuits, in California and Florida, have been filed to date against oil manufacturers that produce E10 fuel, on the basis the companies knew of potential harm to boat engines and failed to warn the public. 'They had to have known,' said Jeffrey Ostrow, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who filed the Florida lawsuit in August in US District Court in South Florida. The defendants are Chevron, Exxon, BP America, Shell Oil, and ConocoPhillips."
Now, this is just great, folks. Big Oil is having to play this ridiculous green game and produce all this ethanol by federal mandate is now getting sued because ethanol causes huge problems in boat motors. So after causing starvation problems around the world we now learn that ethanol is -- by the way, there are some homeowners in Florida reporting similar problems with their lawn equipment, lawn mowers and this kind of thing simply 'cause it attracts water. Dockmaster Mike Klein said, "We were basically forced to take ethanol in the beginning because they did not want to have separate tanks at any of the ports. Ports did not set aside a tank for ethanol free. I knew (the law) excluded marinas but that was all we could get," was E10. (interruption) Your yard equipment keeps crapping out on you? It might be that you're using fuel with ethanol and it's getting contaminated with water. Now, folks, let me tell you the point of this. The point of this is not, once again, to poke fun at the incompetence of people in Washington passing mandates. Ethanol, by the way, is a sop to the agricultural industry and the corn growers in various states (Iowa, Nebraska) around the country. But the issue is one of freedom.
All of this, when we deal with what kind of cars Obama is gonna mandate General Motors make or Congress mandate what kind of cars General Motors is going to make in order to get their bailout and so forth, or this ethanol business being forced on people under a false premise -- manmade global warming. But even without the false premise these kinds of things happen. It's just the nature of government to assume more and more power, and that means taking away more and more liberty. Those of us on my side of the aisle, we look at all of this that's happening, and we see just encroachment after encroachment after encroachment on liberty and on freedom; and we had a caller earlier in the program today who was a typical liberal who wanted to take issue with me for being, in his opinion, opposed to green cars and healthy cars and all this sort of stuff. I told him, "You're missing the point here. It's a freedom issue. If I want to buy an SUV, I ought to be able to buy one." That's the free market at work. But I'm afraid we've got an administration here that's going to do its best to wipe out those kind of cars for whatever well-intentioned reason.
You know, if I mounted up all the good intentions of liberal programs and paid myself a penny for every one of them, I could retire. We're never supposed to examine anything but the good intentions. We're never supposed to examine the results. They always fail. Once you give up a freedom, once you give up a liberty it's really, really tough to get it back. This is the primary thing that bothers me about all of these stories. It's not the federal government's business to be mandating how the automobile business runs. The CAFE standards alone are bad enough because that's a false premise as well. That's all designed to save the climate and so forth. Don't misunderstand. I'm not for unnecessary pollution and all that, my friends. I've never believed that all these problems are as crisis-oriented bad as everybody made 'em out to be. We do a better job of cleaning up our messes in this country than anywhere else around the world does, for large industrialized nations. But it's a liberty issue. It's a freedom issue. So now here we've got ethanol in boats that's causing damage to boat motors and so forth, and people have no choice but than to use it. We just see everything being announced by this administration, all the money we're going to be spending, and you worry about your kids, you worry about your grandkids. I know this is something that's common in this country.
My whole life, you know, we've grown up, and I've met people who think that it's dire circumstances for their kids in the future. "Mr. Limbaugh, I just don't think my kids are going to have the ability to exercise freedom and opportunity and prosperity like I've had." This is a normal concern, I think, that every parent, every generation has. We're getting to the point now where, with all this debt and all this liberty that is being taken away under the guise of security, you start wondering at some point. Are we seeing the demise of the country? It's not going to be instant. It's not going to be something that happens tomorrow, but you reach the tipping point when 50% or more of the people are willing to give up their freedom in order for whatever their wants and needs happen to be that they believe the government can provide for 'em, then we have a real challenge, and we have been inching that way. Now, my druthers would be for these guys just to get out of the way. If he would have today announced a corporate tax cut, if he would have announced a capital gains tax cut -- and he got a question wanting specifics on his tax increase on the rich and he wouldn't answer it. The market wants answers on these kind things. The American people, business communities want answers. They need to be able to long-term plan and have some kind of notion of stability.
But all this borrowing of money to create two-and-a-half million jobs with $700 billion make-work projects on roads and bridges, is not the way to do this. If you really want the economy to rebound there are a bunch of taxes that could still be cut. Even the top rate, you could take the top rate right now from, what is it, 36 or 35 and drop it just two points, and I guarantee you it would renew activity to start earning dollars. When you get to keep more dollars of what you earn and produce, the incentive is to earn 'em. As you earn more, at a lower rate, the Treasury benefits. It's been proved out with the capital gains rate. This is what leads me to believe these people aren't serious about a recovery, 'cause they know. What they're serious about is encapsulating their power, putting an exclamation point on it, and holding it for as long as they can. This is FDR redone, over again.