American Morning

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June 2nd, 2009
10:05 AM ET

Steele: Government intrusion in GM is offensive

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="RNC Chairman Michael Steele blasts President Obama's GM plans as 'government intrusion.'"]

To date, General Motors and Chrysler have been given some $85 billion in taxpayers’ money and now they have to explain to Congress how they’re going to use it and eventually pay it back. Meantime, President Obama is defending the move by the federal government to step in and try to save the auto industry.

“In the midst of a deep recession and financial crisis, the collapse of these companies would have been devastating for countless Americans and done enormous damage to our economy beyond the auto industry.”

The GOP is now firing back. They have a web ad out dubbed “GM: Government Motors” and called President Obama “America's new CEO.” Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

Kiran Chetry: President Obama says he has no interest in actually running General Motors, but U.S. taxpayers now hold a 60% stake in the company. You called it a “government grab of a private company and another handout for the union cronies…” If not the president's plan, what do you think we should have done when it comes to the auto industry?

Michael Steele: I think you let happen what has happened with major corporations like GM before. They go into the market, they work out their situation in the market, they go through bankruptcy. Look. We spent $20 billion to keep them from going into bankruptcy, so I'm sitting here now and asking myself, why did we spend $20 billion if that’s ultimately where they were going to end up. Everyone stood in the doorstep…preventing GM from declaring bankruptcy six, eight, ten months ago. And now this is where we are.

So the reality for me was this is very short sighted planning by the administration, that clearly, you know, the ultimate goal was bankruptcy. So why are we doing it now as opposed to earlier in the process? Let it work itself through. Get rid of the bad assets, streamline the product, get a competitive business plan in place and go back into the marketplace very much like Harley Davidson did and very much like Chrysler did 20 years ago. And make yourself a competitive force. But this government intrusion to me is just offensive to the market.

Chetry: If we spent the billions as you said, it's already gone. With the banks as well the bailout money is already gone. Is it better at least that the government will have some oversight?

Steele: Tell me what we're driving. What are we driving towards? We're driving towards a government telling us what kind of car we need to buy, what kind of car GM is going to make. What are we driving towards? I don't know what the plan is here. And the more important question for me is, you know, we had a rush by the administration to put a timeline in place to get out of Iraq. I want to know what the timeline is to get out of GM. What is the timeline to get out of our bank accounts and the timeline to get out of the business, the private sector business of this economy and let the small entrepreneur, the small businessman and woman who create the wealth in this nation and employ 70% of this nation's work force, let them get their hands around this economy and put it back to work.

All we need the government to do is to create the appropriate incentives so that availability of capital and credit is in place. We don't need any other intrusions, certainly not to the degree that we've seen. I just think if I'm a bondholder or a shareholder of GM, I've been diluted out of business here. What do I have? I have worthless stock. Unions have a greater stake in GM than a bondholder or shareholder. This is the new economy that we're trying to create? I don't think so.

Chetry: I want to ask you about comments former Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday. He was speaking at the National Press Club. Here is what he said when it comes to supporting gay marriage.

“Freedom means freedom for everyone and as many of you know, one of my daughters is gay and something that…we've lived with for a long time in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish.”

Chetry: He went on to say, you know, gay marriage is okay, as long as it's up to the states - individual states to decide, not the federal government. It seems to go further than even President Obama who says he supports civil unions, not gay marriage. What do you think of Cheney's comments?

Steele: I think the vice president brings a very personal perspective to this issue and to the question of gay marriage and gay unions and I think his comments are an appropriate reflection of his family and a situation with his daughter. You know, my view, personal view is marriage is between a man and a woman, very much in line with what the president has said and I think that this battle should be appropriately worked out at the state level. The states are the ones that are defining the question of marriage and so they will be the ultimate arbiters of what constitutes marriage in a given state. So, it’s the appropriate reflection of the attitude and the culture of a particular community for that debate to take place and I think the vice president has a legitimate point there.

Chetry: You've certainly called for civility as have other Republican senators when it comes to questioning, at the confirmation hearings, Judge Sotomayor. However, others within the Republican Party have not taken that approach. Rush Limbaugh called her a racist or reverse racist. Other people are coming out and saying that, you know, perhaps some of her comments do suggest perhaps that she could be racist. Where is the Republican Party headed in terms of how Sotomayor will be handled at her confirmation hearings?

Steele: I've made it very clear from the very moment of this announcement of Judge Sotomayor's nomination that we wanted to take a very detailed and appropriate look at her judicial record. She has 17 years of judicial experience, 3,600 cases that have come before her that we need to examine. And I think that any rush to judgment at this point is immature and inappropriate. I don't think that - rather premature. I don't think that we need to jump on hot rhetoric at this point.

We are celebrating very much as the rest of the country and particularly the Hispanic community the elevation of a Latina American to this very prestigious opportunity, but that still does not take away the responsibility to look very closely at her record. Her comments, her public comments are a little bit disconcerting with respect to, you know, whether or not a Latina has a better judgment - can make a better judgment than a white male. She needs to explain that and there’s a lot of other things she needs to go into some detail about and put into the proper context and we will be very vigorous in examining that.

Filed under: Politics
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. spencer knowles

    Steele needs to shut up its his party that made our country need to do these things 8 years of bush put our country in a big hole and our foriegn policy in a total mess .republicans are extinct

    June 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  2. Corey

    Just another black GOP puppet like Clarence Thomas. The guys he represents don't like him and criticize all his opinions.

    Also, it's just like a Republican to say gay marriages are wrong, except when it's my daughter we're talking about...then it's ok

    June 2, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  3. A.P. Fremont Calif.

    Refiblicans engineering CDO fradulent sub-prime mortgage accounts on Wall Street that were packaged for sale around the world, as those sales evaporated American money from within American banks, and left our American economy supported by Ponzi schemes is found to be EXTREMELY offensive by the American middle class !!!! So Mr. Steele can have a seat and close his mouth !!!!

    June 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  4. Rob

    Liberal idiots posting here I see...the socialist party...led by the messiah Boss Hog Obama... thank god republicans will be back in power in four years after Boss Hog Obama destroys our economy. Of course you liberal idiots will blame Bush...liberal idiots

    June 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  5. rob

    wildbill Ohio: How did the North American Free Trade agreement have anything to do with China.

    Last time I checked (which was recently) China is in Asia, not North America.

    Good Shot.... Try again

    June 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  6. Brice

    I live in MD, I once saw him that a toilet paper stuck on him. No wondering, he doesn't have a good pay attention to anything.

    June 2, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  7. Mark

    So all of you people are ok with the government spending billions and THEN taking over a car company???? You are ok with that? Apparently you dont see the big picture of whats happening to our country. We are losing freedoms and receiving more taxes EVERY DAY to compensate for what Obama is doing.


    NOT TO ME!!

    June 2, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  8. Jarod of Yuma Arizona

    For once, will this so-called RNC Chairman do his homework before opening his mouth? The more he speaks, the more the American public starts to realize that this so-called spokeman has no clue or resolutions to move America and her proud people FORWARD! The above statement by Stephanie says it all...

    June 2, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  9. tee deer

    It is so for Steel to say such thing. I wonder if he'd read enough the plan for restructuring GM before he opened his mouth. For a head of a major party, his lack of knowledge and reasoning is terrified for me to think for the future of GOP. While the government's increasing control during GM's restructuring process is worrisome to me in long term, its short-term solution is effective in every accountants' book : leaner burnden of benifits, unionized wages, enormous debts from all bond holders....

    Also to wildbill in Ohio,

    the rise of China has nothing to do with NAFTA. It was driven by big businesses who want to use China's cheap labor and to profit from that humongous market. Now it is so big that it is starting to own a large share of our treasury notes and to compete against American businesses. NAFTA stands for North America Free Trade Accord and only involved Canada, US and Mexico

    June 2, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  10. Stephanie

    I saw this interview this morning, and wanted to reach through the screen to slap him across his stupid face. The other intelligent comments here outline precisely why, too; no need to be redundant.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  11. Philips

    Last December 31, TV Canada and his compère are apologize publicly for a comedy indecent but no violent for avoid the pursuit.en careful the show Anderson yesterday he interview a doctor who pratical of the abortion Anderson to mention the name of doctor put out her home the window after the tragedy of doctor Tiller who to save the life abouta thousand of women who want to make abortion who at the rights of the make and who or even their rights to deride by from malevolent who say he's to beleive it god to imagine to make to attack sexual by a member of their familie Anderson you are a man you are not in the body from this women who sulphur. those same person violent he's will do anything to arrive to their end. I ask at our nation of close the TV July 22 and 23 at 8pm for this show the black in america to put end to racist because this show increase the indir the discrimination.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  12. Scott

    Bill K,

    Show me your "facts." I don't think you have any. I think you just want to quote bumper stickers. It's sad, really.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  13. James M.

    Has this guy ever won any elected office?

    June 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  14. Julian

    Steele is nothing but an opporttunist. He certainly couldn't make it as a Democrat, so he's trying to get traction the best way he could as a Republican...trying to lend credence to what they want to hear.
    The man failed as a politician in Bowie, MD. He will fail again.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  15. C

    What an idiot. Months ago the GOP was calling for them to go bankrupt. Now they're whining about it.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  16. Bill K

    Once again, look at the above comments. There is a reason I have a bumper sticker which reads: Annoy A Liberal: use Facts and Logic. It is because all most liberals can do is resort to character assassination when their positions are unsupportable otherwise (which is nearly always). If you can't beat the message, kill the messenger.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  17. peter

    michael Steele you are tire, go to sleep

    June 2, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  18. Joe Blowe

    Funny how the Republicans forget to mention that it was GM and Chrysler who crawled on their hands and knees and begged for government money.

    The options were:
    1. Give them no money, and let them fail and take a large chunk of the economy down with it
    2. Give them government loans with no conditions or oversight
    3. Give them government loans with conditions and oversight.

    Most level-headed people would go with #3, but the Republicans are in a free-fall and want to blame everyone else for their problems.

    Sad really.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  19. johken

    this guy sounds CLUELESS! the idea of having him as GOP helmsman is simply a plot to to use him make nasty attacks on the president considering his roots too. i wonder if he thinks he has a place in a real GOP world? grow up STEELE as in steel!!!

    June 2, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  20. George P.

    Michael Steele: "Everyone stood in the doorstep…preventing GM from declaring bankruptcy six, eight, ten months ago."

    Who was President then, Mr Steele?

    June 2, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  21. Dan, TX

    wildbill Ohio

    I hear you. Your analysis is reasonable. The purpose of FREE TRADE for the "conservatives" was to help business get access to nearly free labor without having to pay environmental consequences of pollution. The "Liberals" wanted free trade to give jobs to third world countries so they could rise out of poverty, become middle class, and reduce their birth rates.

    What neither wanted to talk about was the devastation of labor at home and the weakening of the economic power of our country around the world. Our workers are diminished and our status in the world is diminished. Any plant in China or India or Honduras owned by a US company should be required to follow the US environmental laws.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  22. NordicRex

    Get real Steele, like most Redublicans you're out of touch with the real world.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  23. M. Ames, Syracuse

    No one is telling the American people what car to buy. In fact, when specifically asked if he wanted the government to encourage people to buy American, Fritz Henderson of GM said no.

    The bankruptcy that Shelby and Corker wanted would have resulted in liquidation. This one does not.

    Steele either knows better or he's just not paying attention. He is an embarrassment to the Republican Party.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  24. Party Crasher

    Michael Steele is a complete idiot.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  25. John Metsopoulos

    When will he stop whinning.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  26. eric

    Steele just a black puppet for the new republican party.If John McCain had he won the presidency this guy would under no circumstances be the guy. so with that said how can anybody give any heed to what this guy says. He has to take a back seat to the bigger buffon in his party,pill popping Russ L. So why listen to this guy?

    June 2, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  27. wildbill Ohio

    The Republicans, and I am a conservative, opened the NAFTA and the other "Free-Trade" agreements which have facilitated the bankruptcies of the American auto and countless number of industries. NAFTA opened the doors allowing the dumping of every known product to man into our country by countries like China which does not abide by human rights, provide insurance nor basic controls on pollution. Their costs are low simple because those countries don't care about people, just profitability. Now American companies are being forced down the same pathway. Remember there is no such thing as "FREE TRADE". Never was.

    Others to blame include Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes, the Congress for not stepping up, and that's both parties as they had their majorities for a number of years. We can also throw in the US State Department as it used American jobs to barter for "peace" in the Middle East and China. Americans except the rich and the poor can claim they have little to representation in government. The Middle Class is now left holding an empty bag which at one time held their futures and those of their children.

    I know it's a lot of negativity however, think about the changes from the 70s to the present time. Look at your cities, schools and your housing. All are in poor condition at best. Here in Ohio the cities which are going under are Dayton, Cleveland, Youngstown, Springfield and a host of other smaller communities.

    It's about time Americans take back their country and the best way is to build a 50 foot wall around Washington D.C. and let those in there feed off themselves for a change. What a novel idea!

    June 2, 2009 at 10:59 am |