The Big Question for Mar. 31: Will Obama help or hurt automakers?

The Big Question is a feature where influential lawmakers, pundits and interest group leaders give their answers to a question that’s driving discussion in news circles around the country.

Some responses are gathered via e-mail, while others are gathered in person via tape recorder.

Today’s Big Question is:
In the end, will the Obama Administration help or hurt Detroit’s automakers?

Read responses below from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Joan Claybrook, William Redpath, Dean Baker, Timothy Potter, the New Democrat Network, and Dr. Herbert London.

Read the last Big Question here.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said:
The, right or wrong, has made a decision that they are going to run General Motors. They fired the CEO, elected to dismiss the majority of the board. They have insinuated that they will choose which plants will remain open and which models they choose to make. Read the full response here.

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) said:
He’s going to help. He’s the president and he’s going to help Detroit automakers and it’s going to help.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said:
I don’t think the actions that they are taking right now are going to ultimately help.

Joan Claybrook, former president of Public Citizen, said:
The Obama administrations decision to require General Motors and Chrysler to rework their restructuring plans again was appropriate. These companies need more drastic plans and new leadership. The plans submitted in February by General Motors and Chrysler still do not reflect a full understanding of the position in which these companies now stand. Read the full response here.

William Redpath, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, said:
The administration should not concern itself with the auto industry–or any specific industry. It should espouse a pro-consumer economic policy, as that is the only role in the economy that all of us play. Read the full response here.

Dean Baker, Co-Director at the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), said:
The Obama administration will certainly help the auto industry compared with the alternative of letting it just collapse, but Obama is imposing harsh conditions for the bailout. These conditions are arguably fair, but it is very hard to understand how he reconciles the harsh conditions for the auto industry while at the same time offering the financial industry hundreds of billions with virtually no strings. Read the full response here.

Timothy Potter, Director of Government Relations at FRCAction, said:
I think the Obama administration will end up hurting Detroit’s automakers. They will do it with the best of intentions. The administration will pour money and precious time into these companies in an attempt to rescue them from bankruptcy. Read the full response here.

Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, Fellows at the New Democrat Network, said:
The current debate over whether to save our domestic auto industry has revealed some starkly different views about the future of manufacturing in America among economists, elected officials and corporate executives. There are many disagreements about solutions to the Big Three’s current financial difficulties, but the more fundamental debate is whether the industry should bend to the will of the government’s and taxpayers’ priorities or seve only the needs of the companies’ customers and their shareholders. Read the full response here.

Dr. Herbert London, president of the Hudson Institute, said:
The virtual government takeover of the automobile industry bodes poorly for the industry and even more poorly for the country. Tax payer dollars cannot rescue companies unable to compete effectively and unable to constrain UAW demands. Structures bankruptcies, without government intervention, would appear to make the most sense. But what does sense have to do with the rising tide of government intervention. Read the full response here.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said:
Obama was elected with the support of the trial lawyers, the labor union bosses, and the big city political machines.

Every group has already taken a bite or two or three out of the auto industry. Read the full response here.

More in Administration

Dems urge Obama to curb gun violence through executive action

Read more »