Congressman Thad McCotter Is Thinking Of Running For President?

Apparently so.

This brings up something I wrote a week or so ago in response to Adam Baldwin about Congressman McCotter (R-MI) and the challenge  his pro-auto bailout stance would present in a Presidential run:

Last month the National Labor Relations Board announced it would seek to prevent Boeing from opening a non-union production line in South Carolina because it would harm union workers in Washington state.

Now a Boeing lawyer is arguing that if the NLRB wins it will cost jobs in union and right to work states. It’s a short but important post by Philip Klein and I don’t want to steal it so click over to see the logic of Boeing’s position and the potential consequences.

Somewhat related (though it’s going to take a bit to get there): As people search for their savior candidates, some folks are looking to Thad McCotter of Michigan.

Conservative Republican donors and grassroots activists, who have raised concerns that there is not yet a true Reagan conservative in the GOP presidential primary are privately encouraging Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Michigan Republican, to look at a potential entry.

McCotter, who led the Republican fight against the Bush/Obama TARP bank bailout and stimulus and is acknowledged as one of the party’s foreign policy leaders,

When I saw this being pushed my reaction on twitter was to point out that while McCotter may have opposed TARP he was pretty sweet on bailing out the auto industry and the UAW.

This prompted some to wonder if McCotter should get a pass since he represents a district heavily tied to the auto industry. Adam Baldwin, yeah that guy, sent me two videos to look at of McCotter arguing for the auto bailout.

I felt I owed Adam a response and that’s what this will be since it will be too long for Twitter. Before I get into my response please note, I’m not saying he supports McCotter or thinks the Congressman should get a pass for supporting the bailouts. I don’t know either way. I took his passing on of the links as a conversation starter that was neither an endorsement or condemnation.

My reaction to the speeches is that McCotter is a great speaker. I mean absolutely fantastic. What little I knew of him before was based on some appearances on Red Eye where he was usually very funny in a dry, deadpan way. That sort of quiet, low key delivery works well. He puts it to great use in an eloquent defense of an industry and a group people he obviously knows, respects and loves. The people of his district are fortunate to have such a vigorous and intelligent advocate.

I just wish in this case he’d used his power for good and not evil.

Both speeches are wholly at odds with the notion of limited government and free markets. I could easily imagine John Edwards giving both of these speeches in defense of say, the textile industry.

McCotter rails against the “whiz kids” on Wall Street who brought about the economic downturn. Sure there’s some truth to that but that’s an easy out (and I suspect the Congressman knows this). The “whiz kids” wouldn’t have had the opportunity to develop their exotic packaging of mortgages if conditions hadn’t been put in place to create so many toxic loans that should never have been made in the first place. Does the Community Reinvestment Act ring a bell? The implied (and subsequent actual) backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the federal government which are still sucking up cash.  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

But put aside the cause of the economic downturn for a moment. The reality is nearly every industry has been hard hit by the recession that bordered on a depression. Why should the auto industry have been bailed out and not newspapers or retailers or handymen or any group you care to name?

McCotter also talks of ‘equities’, the idea that Wall St is getting bailed out so why shouldn’t hard working auto workers who pay taxes to cover that bailout get a little something something too?

There’s so much wrong with that idea from a conservative standpoint it’s hard to know where to start. First, the bailout money was borrowed, money added right to the deficit and debt. Second, the idea that we should be bribing or paying off certain segments of the public with money we borrowed and will all have to chip in to pay back is exactly what got us into such a mess…hey, we’ll just spread it around and everyone will become hooked on government largess! What could go wrong?

To his credit McCotter also places some of the blame for the auto industry’s problems on ever increasing CAFE standards. Okay, lower them. And again, what industry hasn’t been hit hard by the cost of government regulations? Why this special exception for the auto industry?

But here’s where McCotter really has a problem on this issue and ties in with the NLRB/Boeing issue that started this post (Remember that? You were much younger then). The auto industry is flourishing in parts of this country but it’s places where the UAW can’t get a foothold. McCotter sees neighbors who have played by the rules and would have been in trouble without a bailout. Personally, I see people who used their collective might to wrangle economically unsound contracts from their employers and unions who used their money to support politicians who would insulate them from the entirely foreseeable consequences of their deals. When economic reality caught up with them, they simply used their political muscle to buy more time and shift the burden from them to the public at large. The gains were theirs, the costs were socialized.

It’s not that Americans can’t produce quality cars that are economically competitive and that people want to buy. It’s that Americans who work under economically unsupportable UAW rules can’t (even that’s not entirely true. Ford didn’t take the bailout and they are flourishing).  Had Chrysler and GM been forced into bankruptcy, the companies would have had the opportunity to break free of business and job killing union rules.

McCotter sets this fight up as between Main Street and Wall Street. I think it’s between right to work and closed shop states. The auto bailout, like the NLRB with Boeing, is simply the federal government privileging the later over the former. I think that’s bad economics, policy and politics.

Now, this is a long, long take-down of McCotter’s auto bailout stance, which is water that went over the dam two years ago. Even with all of that said, he’s a Congressman from an auto manufacturing district. He had to take that position (though David Stockman, Regan’s Director of OMB opposed the Chrysler bailout while in Congress). All politicians have imperfect voting records. If you want to have a perfect ideological trail, don’t run for office. It’s impossible to reconcile the two. More to the point, I don’t even know if McCotter is running or would be more than a niche candidate if he did.

But yes, I hold this as a strike against McCotter should he ever run for  President. I want candidates who believe in the same principles I do (in  as far as that’s possible) and fight for them. If these core principles  are abandoned out of political expediency, then what’s the point of  having them?  If every deviation (and let’s be honest, this isn’t a  minor one) can be excused by saying, “I needed the votes”, what’s the  point of electing conservatives? There will always be a sizable  constituency for federal dollars and government interference in the market place.

I’m sure he can defend himself if it comes to that, but I think it’s misleading for people like the writer of that Washington Times blurb to laud McCotter for his opposition to TARP while ignoring McCotter’s auto bailout advocacy.

About Drew

I blog about politics and hockey because I sort of understand those things. I'd blog about women but I'll never understand them.

Posted on May 24, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Have to agree with you. I remember seeing an excerpt of his bailout speech and being very disappointed. I hope he was simply trying to represent his constituents despite his own philosophy; I hope.

  2. You’re a smart guy. It was the Commodity Futures/Financial Services Modernization Acts that allowed the CRA to get twisted into the nexus of the economy wrecking machine. CRA would have been fairly benign socialist twaddle until the wrecking ball of derivatives came into play. So called conservatives have yet to answer for their part in the mess, and CRA is just a lazy out for those unable to look deeper. Larry Summers and Bob Rubin were intimately involved (as well as The Maestro himself), but it doesn’t happen without Phil Gramm, et al. McCotter needs to answer for the damage caused by Republicans before he slams Wall Street – for being Wall Street. You don’t give loaded guns to children, you don’t guard your chickens with coyotes.

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