Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Corker says Big 3 automakers should seek bankruptcy to reorganize and not take billions from taxpayers

On CNBC this morning, Tennessee U.S. Sen Bob Corker said the nation's Big 3 automakers -- slated to beg today before Congress for a $25 billion Christmas gift -- said he does not see how their debt can be turned into securities and high labor costs be lowered without Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization for these companies.

"I want to see the plans," Corker said. "We can tell whether they are making serious steps. I am very doubtful they can do it on their own. If you look at their numbers, they should have been having meetings a year ago. They have not addressed the issues."

When the automakers were on Capitol Hill last month, they could not answer Corker's question as to whether they would be back for more money after getting bailed out now.

Corker said he has been meeting with analysts for the past two days, and most everyone has been talking about pre-arranged bankruptcy. Another problem for the automakers is the gross number of dealerships for them across the country. State laws prevent the closing of such dealerships. Bankruptcy law can remedy that.

"The test is after they have done all this, will anyone invest in them," Corker said. "If they are able to restructure so that people will invest in these companies, then that's another thing. I can't think of any company paying people in manufacturing more than anyone else and the taxpayer picking up the bill."

Corker, however, did not have good answers when it came to the big bailouts he supported for Wall Street fatcats. The Tennessee Republican is the 23rd richest member of Congress.

"The rescue efforts have been there so that the financial system works for everyone," he said. "But these companies cannot continue (to operate as they do). If we move into individual industries, that is pretty scary for our government."

As for the automakers: "We sat down with analysts all day yesterday ... GM argues that if you go into bankruptcy, no one will buy our cars. The place for U.S. government may be debtor in possession position."

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