RUSH: Lauren in Erie, Pennsylvania. Hi. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Thank you for having me. I’m a big fan. I have a question for you. Everyone’s saying should we bail out the auto industry or not. There’s no one else coming up with a solution. I’ve got a great one. I want to hear your opinion.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: Okay. What if we have the oil industry bail them out, because I think we’ve all paid enough in taxes, and that’s the hand that feeds them.
RUSH: Wait a second, now. Big Oil bail out the Big Three automakers because we’ve all paid enough in taxes?
CALLER: Let them do it. They’re the ones that made all the windfall profits.
RUSH: There’s no such thing as a ‘windfall profit.’
CALLER: Well, they made a lot of money, and why should we…?
RUSH: They’re not making a lot of money now, though. All of that is cyclical. Don’t tell me, please —
CALLER: Okay. The refineries are also making money.
RUSH: Please don’t tell me you have an animus to Big Oil.
CALLER: (laughing) Well, I’ll just say that it’s okay to make money. I’m absolutely conservative Republican on that. But what really frustrates me is we as consumers are always paying our taxes. You can’t raise our taxes anymore because many of us are going to be without jobs. So let’s turn around and try and help each other out. We don’t have to worry about their golden parachutes if they do it behind closed doors.
RUSH: I understand the idea that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Big Oil and the Big Three are all automakers, but, look, the golden parachutes? This is the kind of stuff, when I see failing executives walking out with all these huge golden parachutes, I just cringe because that’s the kind of signal that is going to help average people come to support anti-capitalist measures. I don’t know how you regulate this. The federal government starts regulating this and it’s only a matter of time before they start regulating what you earn.
CALLER: I don’t like that at all. We certainly don’t need their hands in our pockets anymore or in our life.
RUSH: Right. They already do regulate what you earn — actually, what you keep — by virtue of their tax code.
CALLER: That’s true, but the auto industry needs to survive, and Chrysler is really looking for the money from the bailout so that they can turn around and sell it to some Indian holding company, where Ford is doing okay, and GM really needs the money until 2010 when their deal with the UAW stops all these legacy taxes.
RUSH: Look, you’re just inspiring all kinds of questions here from a theoretical and philosophical standpoint.
RUSH: Now, answer me: ‘Why do the Big Three need money? Why is it imperative that they be bailed out?’
CALLER: Well, the problem is right now, it’s really GM who needs the money. It’s because it’s costing them about $80 some dollars an hour to produce a car, and the Japanese counterparts are only paying about $40 or so per hour to produce a car. So they put themselves in this really bad situation.
RUSH: Yeah, but you know how this is going to be fixed?
CALLER: I hate to hear how.
RUSH: What’s going to happen is that Congress is gonna figure out a way to increase Toyota and other costs to get them closer to what GM’s are. They’re not going to come up with a way to lower GM’s or Ford or Chrysler’s costs.
CALLER: Obviously. That’s not good, but as of 2010 their rates will drop.
RUSH: Folks, if you doubt me on this, Congress — Democrats, liberals — never try to equalize things by raising the people at the bottom. They do it by lowering people at the top. The effect here is the same, and they’ll do it with unions. What do you think is going to happen with this Card-Check business? How long do you think Toyota is going to get away with this?
CALLER: Well, unfortunately if the government’s got their fingers in it they’re going to try to destroy everyone else.
RUSH: Whatever they do to lower the costs of operation will have nothing to do with their labor costs. Obama’s going to see to that. If they lower the cost of their operations it’s going to be because they’re being told to manufacture cars that… Ah, been there; done that. But theoretically, look, GM made the deals, Ford made the deals with the unions.
RUSH: So you can sit and we feel sorry for them, and we do.
CALLER: Well, you shouldn’t because Ford’s actually going to be okay. They’ve got good product out there, and the quality is certainly there, whether people actually believe it or not. I’ve actually been to these plants and seen them produce a good quality product. It’s their costs are so high, they have to charge more than the competition.
RUSH: Same thing for General Motors.
RUSH: We’ve seen ’em and we drive ’em. They’re making some incredible cars right now, and they’re making some incredible crossroads. They’re making some incredible, good-looking economic cars. They really are. There’s just such this anti-bias and it’s been brought to us by years and years and years of liberalism which has played this class envy game against evil corporations, and it’s just a shame because all that really is, is continued bashing of capitalism, and that’s what’s taking place right now. They’re trying to replace it with as much socialism or collectivism — whatever you want to call it — Big Government as Obama can create.
RUSH: Pittsburgh and Sean. Glad you waited, sir. Welcome to the big program.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush. Hey, I was just telling your caller screener, you know, everybody keeps talking about, ‘Should we bail out the consumer or should we bail out the Big Three when it comes to these cars?’ I mean, why not do both? I said, ‘Why can’t you set up like a rebate system on a scale? Like if you have good credit, you get $2,000. It maybe goes directly to one of the Big Three, whichever one you buy the car from. If you have less credit, give them up to like a $5,000 credit.’ That way you’re helping the consumer, you’re encouraging them to buy a car, and you’re helping the Big Three at the same time.
RUSH: You know, you have a great idea, but you’re not going far enough. If you have a great idea, you need to go all the way. Stick with me on this. It’s just like this whole bailout plan. You know, Obama, he thinks it would be very worthwhile to have two-and-a-half million new jobs for the government or saved for the government, people doing roads and bridges and so forth. He thinks this is going to be very instrumental in reviving the US economy. Well, if this is a good idea, why stop at two-and-a-half million new jobs? Why not just hire every American to work for the government? If working for the government is what brings about economic prosperity, then Obama should just hire every one of us!
CALLER: If that was true then why are we switching more toward a service economy?
RUSH: Exactly. Now, your idea: Why go through all this rigmarole of credits and rebates and so forth? Why not just have the government buy everybody a brand-new car? They can keep the cars they have or trade one in that they don’t want, ’cause many people are multiple-car families. Just have the government buy everybody a car and look at what that would do. You make sure that the cars are American made.
CALLER: I don’t know if I agree with going that far, but if they’re going to give the Big Three the money, why not encourage people…? I’m saying do it that way to encourage the people to actually buy the cars instead of just giving them the money and doing what they’re doing with it now and then six months from now asking for more.
RUSH: Well, in order to get people to buy the cars they’re going to have to have cars people want to buy. And that’s going to be a problem, because the bailout money is gonna have requirements attached to it that they gotta go green; they gotta go alternative energy; they gotta go small. They gotta build cars that a lot of people don’t really want.
CALLER: So basically they’re going to force them to dig the hole deeper?
RUSH: I think there’s an effort here to green as much of American industry as possible on the basis we need to stop global warming and so forth and so on. This is a dream for these people, Sean. This is a dream for liberals who have been dying to run as much of American business as possible. With all these businesses, you know, traipsing up to Washington with their hands out, you can attach all kind of conditions you want once you hand out the money. This is why I don’t accept freebies. I do not. I refuse. I mean, somebody can give me a piece of gum, don’t misunderstand, but I don’t take anything because I don’t want to be obligated. I don’t want the strings that come. That’s why I would never run for office. I mean, the pay cut’s the primary reason, but the next reason I wouldn’t do it is because you gotta go out there and fund-raise — and the moment you hold your hand out and you ask people for money, there is an expectation attached to it.
Now, in an ideal world, the expectation is that the person giving you the money will be satisfied if you just stay true to your ideas and your ideals and principles and do everything you can to implement them. But a lot of people (as we all know) when they donate, particularly large sums, have tangible expectations that go beyond ideas and ideals. And that I couldn’t do. I have tried to set my life up, my whole life so that I didn’t need to depend on anybody, so that I didn’t have to ask anybody for anything. ‘Cause I’ve been through that and I didn’t want to go through it again, and I don’t want to be obligated to anybody. There are ways of doing that and this bailout money is going to come with so many stipulations you don’t even want to think about it.
RUSH: Here’s Tim in Chelsea, Alabama. Hi, Tim. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Retired Army dittos, Rush. Thanks for being on AFN [Armed Forces Network] all those years.
RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much.
CALLER: The Big Three automakers have an opportunity, if they grow a spine, to (unintelligible) government out of their business the same way Big Tobacco missed it ten years ago. Ten years ago, Big Tobacco could have broken the government from bothering them by doing two things: just saying, ‘We’re not going to sell any cigarettes in the United States for amount of time,’ and, ‘We’re not going to buy the tobacco from the farmers to protect the taxes.’ Government would have defecated themselves, granting them immunity from lawsuits.
RUSH: This is an interesting idea, I gotta tell you, because it goes to the point. We’ve had all these people talk about, ‘Cigarettes kill! Tobacco kills! Can’t advertise it, can’t do this. Gotta get Joe Camel out of there, it’s so bad.’ Ban the product then! It’s causing health care costs to skyrocket? Ban the product, if it’s so bad. But they won’t ban the product because they won’t do without the tax revenues, so your point is that Big Tobacco could have just said, ‘Fine. We’re punting America.’
CALLER: Yes, sir. And the Big Three automakers can do something similar to get Congress out of their business, by doing two things. They can declare bankruptcy, now, before they take a dime of government money to do the reorganization, and they could reincorporate as part of the reorganization in the Bahamas, therefore they’d get rid of all the standards applying to domestic automakers.
RUSH: Yeah, well. You know, that has about as much chance of happening as Big Tobacco.
CALLER: Well, they’ve got no spine.
RUSH: Well, see, here’s the thing, though. Members of Congress already do this. There was a story yesterday in the New York Post about Charlie Rangel. Do you know what he’s done now? Now stick with me on this, Tim. Charlie Rangel has declared that his home in Washington, DC, is his primary residence. He declared it as a homestead so he doesn’t have to pay taxes there.
CALLER: That means he’s no longer representing his district.
RUSH: Right. But he also has primary residence in New York. It may not be primary, but he declared his place that he lives in Washington to be homesteaded. Members of Congress do not pay local DC taxes because their official residence is somewhere else. So he somehow got a homestead exemption in the District. This guy’s got more apartments on a salary of $160 grand, and has this vacation rental place down in the Dominican Republic where they catch him sleeping on the back of a hammock, which is a very interesting picture. And Charlie Rangel could probably serve as a consultant to advise Big Three auto on how to restructure, where did you say, Bahamas?
CALLER: Bahamas, Jamaica, wherever the tax breaks are the best.
RUSH: Cayman, let’s not forget the Cayman Islands, offshore.
RUSH: Or go over to Bermuda.
CALLER: Go over there. Now they get rid of all the requirements, and if they need to, they don’t sell you autos in the US. They just ship overseas to where their business is good.
RUSH: Yeah. Well, it’s an interesting theory, but you know it will never happen.
CALLER: Oh, yes, sir. They gotta have a spine first.
RUSH: Well, no, even if they had the spine, the auto business… Look at all the domestic dealerships that go out of business, the suppliers — and that’s part of your trick, right?
RUSH: All right. ‘You people, you want to tell me how to run the business? Fine! I’m going to leave the country. We’re going to shut down. We’re not going to make cars in America.’
CALLER: And Congress would back off because they don’t want to kill the cow.
RUSH: I mean, that’s the theory.
RUSH: I think it would make ’em so damn mad. I think they’d make sure that nobody ever treated them like that again. They’d put ’em in jail. They’d do something. They’d call them in contempt of Congress. They’d do something.
CALLER: Well, you know, standing up for freedom is a fight. You gotta fight the fight.
RUSH: I know, but these guys in the auto business right now are looking at surviving, and those are the kind of things that they’re really fun to talk about and you would love to see. I would have loved to see Big Tobacco stick it to these people. I just would have loved it, I cannot tell you.
‘Your product kills.’
‘Then ban it, you gracious public servants! If it kills, ban the damn stuff. But you can’t, because you can’t deal without the tax revenue. You can’t survive without people buying the product and killing themselves,’ as you say.
Hell, cigarette smokers deserve medals of honor or some congressional medal because they’re the ones paying for health care costs right now. Well, I don’t know if anybody’s paying for anything anymore except the bailout.
RUSH: David in Avon Park, Florida, it’s nice to have you on the EIB Network, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Good morning. Or afternoon.
RUSH: Hi! Yes?
CALLER: You want me to start, then.
RUSH: Yeah, yeah.
CALLER: Okay. I’m an autoworker. I retired in ’99. My retirement salary was $2,200 a month. The union-negotiated contract negotiated us, dollar for dollar, away. In other words, when we get Social Security, we lose it dollar for dollar. Now, 2,200. I get 1,100 from General Motors; I get 1,100 from Social Security. Now, if that’s breaking the bank, I don’t know what is.
RUSH: As I’ve said earlier, this is a tough thing for me, because I have no quarrel with anybody earning as much as they can. I am not at all like people who want to limit what people can earn, but I do think it ought to be earned and I think of the value of it. And when you pay people who aren’t working, it’s a great deal if you can get it, but at some point the people doing the paying aren’t going to be able to afford it.
CALLER: Well, let me say something to you. I worked 31 hard years there at General Motors, in three different plants, having to relocate twice. The CEO of General Motors right now is making $14 million. Roger Smith retired at 2.3. His biggest salary was 750,000. Show me a man that’s worth three times as much retired.
RUSH: I know. This age-old class envy argument about management versus labor is never, ever going to go away, but you know it getting into it. You know it getting into it. We all have hard luck stories. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for 40 years. I’ve been fired eight times. I’ve been told I can’t tell you how many times, that I didn’t have the talent to succeed — and I’m paying for my own retirement. I’m not counting on anybody to pay me when I leave this ’cause there’s nobody who will.