RUSH: Dawn is driving the Cadillac SRX this week, the Crossover, loves it. Her two kids love the thing because there are video screens on the back seats. ‘Mommy, mommy, can we go drive and watch a DVD?’ And now Snerdley says he wants to get one, and Dawn says the kids want to get one. If the kids want to get one, you’re pretty much going to get one. This is the Cadillac SRX Crossover. New sponsors here at the EIB Network, General Motors, honored and proud to have them, met with them last Thursday in Detroit when I was out there for the Rush to Excellence Tour for WJR.
Speaking of this, we had a couple Obama stories here. First one is from Detroit. ‘Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday faulted U.S. automakers for failing to do what foreign manufacturers have accomplished in producing fuel-efficient vehicles. Uttering words not often spoken in Detroit, Obama said U.S. energy policy must change in order to help domestic automakers answer the rising global demand for efficient autos. ‘For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars,’ the Illinois senator told business and political leaders. Obama said his plan encourages domestic automakers to make fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles by giving them health care assistance for retirees. Federal financial assistance would cover 10 percent — up to $7 billion — of automakers’ annual legacy health care costs through 2017, under Obama’s plan, which would require automakers to invest at least half of their health care savings into technology to produce fuel-efficient cars.’ Now, that’s pretty gutsy, Obama going into Detroit. You don’t hear this kind of stuff said much. This was the Detroit Economic Club, where he was speaking.
Now, here is a companion story, this also from yesterday’s stack. It’s from the Los Angeles Times. ‘Healthcare Reform’s Unlikely Ally: Big Business — Abandoning the business lobby’s traditional resistance to healthcare reform, a new coalition of 36 major companies plans to launch a political campaign today calling for medical insurance to be expanded to everyone along lines Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing for California. Founded by Steve Burd, chairman of the Safeway grocery chain and an ally of the governor, the coalition could boost efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to overhaul healthcare laws.’ Now, let me tell you what’s going on here. Let me tell you what’s going on, and the same thing going on with Obama. While this sounds gutsy, what’s Obama doing? He’s dangling a carrot in front of the automakers saying, ‘Look, we’ll pick up some of your health care costs for your retirees.’ That’s what’s killing ’em. They have to pay retirement and health care costs for people no longer working there, and of course there’s no productivity associated with those people because they’re retired. I know they made the deal and it is what it is, but the golden goose is about to be slain here.
So you’ve got a bunch of companies who are all thought to be pro-Republican, big conservatives and so forth, screw the little guy, they want government to take over their health care plans. They can’t wait for that. They want to get rid of the expense. They want you and me and everybody else to be part of a single payer government system, and Obama is going into Detroit, and saying, (paraphrasing) ‘Hey, look, automakers, I’ll offer you the same thing. Will you get started making fuel efficient cars like the Japanese have done, and I’ll take care of some of your legacy health care costs and get ’em off your hands, on a sliding, increasing scale, the more fuel efficient, energy efficient cars you produce.’ Now, I didn’t see all of General Motors’ line, and they showed me what they’ve got in the next two years and some of their brands, but my gosh, folks, I saw some tiny little cars. They showed me the kind of cars you see if you go to Europe, you know, smaller streets, higher petrol prices over there. They’ve had tiny little cars for years. They even showed me the giant SUV. What was it, a Yukon that is half hybrid. They’re very proud of it. But at the same time, I was reminded during the visit that General Motors is already on board. I don’t know about Ford and Chrysler, assume they are, too, but I mean they’re busting their rear ends to get their fuel economy standards up, these CAFE standards because they’re mandated.
They feel sort of hamstrung by it. Cadillac wanted to build a thing called the Cadillac 16, was going to be 550 horsepower, you know, mama. They’re not going to do it because they don’t think there’s going to be any market for it, and it won’t be legal. Something that gets that little gas won’t be legal down the road. So they’re up to speed on what they have to do, and some of the cars I saw that they’re going to be introducing in the next two years are indeed — not all hybrids, but they’re tiny. They’re fuel efficient and so forth. They’re on the case. But they are being buried by these legacy health care costs, and it’s something that, to me, is a black cloud because now you’ve got all these other businesses, and this California rally, and they want to slough their health care plans off to the government. They want to rid themselves of this expense, and that leads us right into Hillary Care, if this indeed happens.
I was talking earlier in the last hour about the feminization of American culture. Now, let’s pretend I am an automaker. The reason I’m in business is to sell cars. I think most CEOs of domestic car companies, if you asked them, would tell you they feel like they’re running a health care maintenance program, a health care company, and that the side business is manufacturing cars. If I were in the auto business, I would be finding out what my customers wanted and I would build those cars. I’d build a variety of them. That’s not the purpose of a company any longer. The purpose of a company is to provide jobs. The purpose of a company is to provide health care. And, of course, a company today has to be beholden to politicians and governments, demanding you can’t build that car, you can’t build that kind of car, your cars have to get no more than this amount of mileage and so forth. It’s gotta be tough for them. When you are told that you can’t build certain kind of cars and, by the way, if your top management happens to think that you gotta go along with this global warming scare because a lot of people happen to believe it, then, okay, you bend over and grab the ankles and say I’m afraid of alienating the customer. That’s not the real thing. They’re afraid of alienating government.
The last thing they want to do is alienate government because they’ll come down on them and force them to do things and make it even tougher to do business. The end result of this, by the way, is that customers are going to have fewer choices on what they really want. The largest seller in the GM line right now is the Escalade. Well, the Escalade is a big mama. It’s not a little bubble car out there. It is huge. By the way, something I was told — was not a GM executive, it was somebody in my entourage I talked to before I got there, said a majority of the Escalades are being purchased by these giant limo companies and being stretched. Have you seen these giant Hummers and Escalades on the road that seat 50, you know, with a drive train that’s about a block long and so forth? A lot of them are being turned into that. What does that tell you what people want?
So they’ve gotta be between a rock and a hard place. They’ve got these legacy health care costs. Now you’ve got Obama in there basically dangling this carrot and telling them the Japanese are running rings around them because the Japanese built fuel efficient cars when Detroit wouldn’t. Well, the fact is, Japanese companies don’t have pay the health care of their workers. The government does that. The point is that those companies do not have to build in that price per car, which I think in the US auto industry, the price for health care in every car you buy averages out to be 1500 bucks, and the Japanese don’t have to put that 1500 bucks in the suggested retail price of their automobile. Well, right there you’ve got a bit of a disadvantage. The point of this is that there is a move afoot for as many companies as possible to shed their health care plans and turn it over to the government and let the government run it. And believe me, there are people from Nancy Pelosi on down that would be happy — Hillary Clinton on down, that would be happy to do it for you.
RUSH: Here’s the second Obama story today, and it comes from Mortimer Zuckerman. Mort Zuckerman, US News & World Report, is the owner, publisher, the grand pooh-bah, and the headline here, ‘Who’s the Real Obama?’ And Mort Zuckerman is no conservative. So add this to the liberal side of the stories on Barack Obama. This starts out, ‘Why not Obama? Millions of people are inspired by him; witness the polls, the stunning breadth of his financial support, the rapture over his way of speaking.’ Here we go again. ‘He is the first black candidate to have a serious chance of winning his party’s nomination and the presidency. That is a remarkable statement of how far America has come on race-but it also reflects Barack Obama’s ability to present himself as a politician for all Americans, just somebody who happens to be black. … Pause comes when we look beyond biography. The world has rarely been in a more dangerous state. Time bombs tick in the Middle East. Radical Muslims plan more terrorism. From London, there is evidence of how eager they are to betray a host nation, yet Europe is enfeebled. China and Russia are unhelpful. There is worldwide disaffection with America. And unparalleled means of destruction are more available than ever before. Is charisma enough to avert catastrophe?
‘Foreign affairs are no longer ‘foreign.’ In the globalized world, they are in our living room. … But Obama will not be able to maintain that ‘above politics’ stance. If his broad themes are to remain credible, he will have to be more than a smooth and sweet-talking optimist. He will have to detail just what he would do on health, global warming, Iran. Is he tough-minded enough not just to take a punch but to give one? People who know him well doubt this. If they’re right, he will become another one of those failed candidates like Adlai Stevenson, who bemoaned the dirty business of politics and tried to run campaigns that rose above it. … For now, the senator is the most impressive insurgent candidate. But if he is to maintain momentum, he must grow. Along with his uplifting eloquence, he must show a capacity for leading the West-and above all for realism and resolution in the deployment of American power for the common good.’ You know what he’s saying here? What Mort Zuckerman is saying is that with Obama there’s no ‘there’ there right now, he better grow up fast and get a ‘there’ there, because platitudes and an above-politics stance and charisma are not going to be enough in a dangerous world.
USA Today has a poll, ‘New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has rebounded to a 15 percentage-point lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.’ She went up seven points in three weeks, I think is what’s happened here. ‘Among Republicans, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani maintained a 14-point lead over Arizona Sen. John McCain. Clinton is the only contender in either party to show movement outside the poll’s margin of error. She is the choice of 38% of the Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters surveyed, up 7 points from a survey taken three weeks earlier. Obama is at 23%, 3 points lower than before. … Clinton strategist Mark Penn attributes her boost in the poll to her performance in the opening debate April 26. ‘At the debate, people got the first chance to see them all side-by-side,’ Penn says, ‘and I think she is looking very ready to lead.”