Arkansas' Senators split vote on auto bailout

Arkansas’ two U.S. Senators split their vote on the Thursday (Dec. 11) bailout vote for the U.S. auto industry.

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., voted against the auto bailout package. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., voted for it. (See this Bloomberg report on the bailout package and Congressional action.)

Lincoln’s statement noted:

• “Further, when the car companies establish a credible plan for the future, we don’t have to throw new money at the problem. The Bush Administration has the authority now to offer assistance through the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the Federal Reserve’s direct loan authority. While promising to help Main Street and American industry, the Bush Administration has failed to use TARP to benefit any institution off of Wall Street. TARP funds should be the source for any auto relief, provided our domestic auto companies demonstrate reforms that will lead to sustainability.
 
• “The leadership of General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford has failed to meet the competitive demands of a global economy and it will be up to them to create a business plan that is worthy of taxpayer assistance. It is unfair to ask the American taxpayer to foot the bill for misguided business decisions.”

• “I greatly appreciate the important role our domestic auto manufacturers play in our economy and in our national security. However, we should only provide taxpayer assistance to these companies if there is a credible plan for their long-term viability.”

Pryor’s statement noted:

• “I believe this plan offers not just a lifeline, but an opportunity for U.S. automakers to plan a path toward long-term survival.  The Senate’s failure to pass this legislation spells real danger to the livelihood of this American industry, including the jobs of 17,000 Arkansans who clock in at assembly lines, supply companies and dealerships across our state.”
 
• "Business plans built on greed alone have dire consequences, and many believe that the ‘Big Three’ auto companies deserve to fail. While I share this frustration, inaction is too much for our economy to shoulder at this time.  The U.S. economy has lost more than 1.9 million jobs over the last year; 533,000 jobs in November alone. In addition to lost jobs and tax revenue from a failed auto industry, taxpayers will end up footing a costly bill for unemployment, welfare and health care benefits.”
 
• “I support this bridge loan proposal because of the strong taxpayer protections and oversight attached, particularly the appointment of a car czar to oversee the automakers’ long-term viability plans and revoke loan funding if a company is not reforming accordingly. Once again, Americans are being asked to put their faith in a struggling industry, but I am optimistic the elements in this bill are necessary to preserve jobs and a cornerstone American industry.”

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It might be helpful to note that Lincoln faces reelection in 2010, with Republicans hoping to find a strong candidate to run against her. The Republicans failed to find a candidate to run against Pryor in the recent 2008 general election.

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