Let's face it, with headlines like this it's no wonder the "wrong track" number and the level of consumer confidence is abysmal.
GM shares plunge on bankruptcy fears
The company faces so many problems, a Merrill Lynch analyst says, that bankruptcy isn't out of the question. Here's why it also may be unlikely.
Now for all you free market Ayn Rand types, this is a big deal. The ripple effect of such an event would be massive and unpleasant. And after the Fed's weekend rescue of Bear Stearns it would be hard to explain to working people letting this place go toes up.
Now I have no particular brief for the management, the shareholders or the UAW, whose chronic myopia led to this debacle. But let's be real, were this to happen the Bush adminstration would be blamed.
In 2006, the President said the car companies needed to manufacture "a product that's relevant" and that his administration has discussed new fuel technologies with the nation's top two automakers. I have no idea what the Bush team has done to assist Detroit in this effort, although I would suggest this deficiency exceeds their abysmal message delivery.
So, now that a GM bankruptcy is being bandied about, what does it mean for John McCain considering he MUST win either Ohio or Michigan? (No one since WWII has won without winning one of the two; the only time Ohio voted for a loser was in 1960 when JFK won Michigan).
*It means he must add an industrial agenda message along with Iraq.
Stating as Mac did in MI during the primary "most of these jobs aren't coming back" is accurate, but dismissive. At this point, a candidate who has a credible plan to save what's left of the U.S. auto industry is what is needed.
Promoting NAFTA is not the answer to this problem..
* It means he must find a decisive way to break with Bush economic policies
Perhaps Gore or Kerry's economic agenda would have accelerated the decline. For this region, talking up capital gains taxes et al is going to seem simply off topic. Mac is going to have to put something on the table here and now --a specific policy item that Bush didn;t do for this industry that he will.
I would suggest that the "Drill Now" message is likely to be well received in these places. Clearly the domestic auto industry is not ready for $5/gallon gasoline. But more is needed than the refrain of "job retraining" and "supplemental umployment benefits". We are not going to outbid Mr. Hope & Change on who can throw money at the non-working.
We are facing a Perot style economic situation with a Perot style angry electorate---the sort of voters who cast 26-29% for Perot in some rural/exurban OH & MI counties in 1992.
We need to emulate the Perot antiestablishment approach both in manner and message. Otherwise the voters will simply conclude that we are facing an immediate problem, and with neither candidate offering a credible solution, default back to anti-Bush voting.