And again today, the WSJ's incisive Holman Jenkins is a must read, this time on the Big Three Automakers:
President Obama rightly says "sacrifices" must be made if GM is to emerge as a viable company. But there's one sacrifice he won't make: his re-election chances, by leaving the fate of the UAW truly up to a bankruptcy judge.
Keep that in mind amid the defenestration of Rick Wagoner, who was not as popular with UAW Chief Ron Gettelfinger as Mr. Wagoner's replacement, Fritz Henderson. Keep that in mind amid reports the administration favors a "quick and surgical" bankruptcy. It's a bluff. The same administration that inserted itself into GM's corporate governance to order the resignation of a CEO is hardly likely to defer to the prescribed legal order for a failing company, namely bankruptcy. Even a "prepackaged" filing runs too much risk of a judge imposing more "sacrifice" on the UAW than the administration is prepared to tolerate.
GM bondholders understand this: They've been intransigent precisely because they calculate the UAW is too important to Democratic electoral politics for Mr. Obama to risk losing control of the reorganization process to a bankruptcy judge.
The GM bailout has become a political operation run out of the White House. It will stay that way. Talk of UAW layoffs already disguises the fact that UAW workers are actually offered generous buyouts and early retirement -- they aren't just sent away with a last paycheck. What about Chrysler? A few weeks ago, Fiat was saying it would consider a merger if a loan from Washington was guaranteed. Now Washington is saying a loan will be forthcoming as long as Fiat does a deal. That's not an ultimatum -- that's a nod and a wink.
Don't stop there; read the whole sad story of how Washington drove the Big Three into the ground with the Two Fleets rule.