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MR. HEMMER: From the White House, we're getting word that they're pushing hard to get the auto bailout done. It passed in the House yesterday, but it's far from a done deal on the Senate side. The White House saying minutes ago that the jobless claims that came out two hours ago is another strong impetus for getting this deal done, but are Republican senators buying that?
From Oklahoma, Tom Coburn is opposed to the bailout. He's my guest now on the Hill.
Sir, good morning to you.
SEN. COBURN: Good morning.
MR. HEMMER: I know you're still against this deal. Is it going down?
SEN. COBURN: I would probably imagine that it will be defeated today in the Senate.
MR. HEMMER: Where does that leave GM? Where does that leave Chrysler?
SEN. COBURN: Well, first of all, it leaves Chrysler, Chrysler is a private company who is owned 80 percent by Cerberus who has plenty of capital invested in their business; they refuse to do that. So the American people shouldn't be asked to bailout Chrysler when a company is connected with over $100 billion a year in revenues won't invest in their own business.
MR. HEMMER: What does it mean for GM then?
SEN. COBURN: Well, I think GM -- what GM has to do and the problem with this whole bill is we're going to send $14 billion worth of taxpayer money and then say fix the problems. What we should be saying is bring us a plan that equitizes your bonds, equitizes the VEBA, the retirement health pension programs so that the United Auto Workers takes equity instead of cash and work out with their franchisees and then we'll give you the money.
The problem with this plan is all we're doing is moving it down the road.
MR. HEMMER: You think you just write checks to cover their bills for now. Josh Bolten, Chief of Staff, came to the Hill yesterday and met with you and other Republican leaders on the Senate side and from what I read, you gave him an earful.
What happened in that meeting?
SEN. COBURN: Well, Josh is a great guy and he explained their position on it. The problem is what they've negotiated with the Democrats doesn't solve the problem. Nobody in America wants to see the auto factories go into worse problems than what they are today. Nobody wants to see auto workers lose their jobs. But the solution is only a short-term fix that doesn't come about and doesn't force the real solution that is needed, and if we're going to invest taxpayer dollars in auto companies in terms of bridge loans, then there ought to be some truth to the fact that the American people ought to be able to see with clarity that there's a way to get that money back, and there's just not with this plan.
MR. HEMMER: I'm way out of time, but it's December 11th on the calendar. Are you willing to accept GM go into bankruptcy because if you can't do a compromise bill between now and the first of the year, well, that company is saying that they're going to go bankrupt?
SEN. COBURN: Well, you know, a pre-planned, pre-arranged bankruptcy is probably what they need to keep the jobs and to keep their plants and to keep them in business. The fact is they can't compete when their labor and wage rates are 60 percent above those people that they're competing with in domestic American auto manufacturers outside the Detroit three.
MR. HEMMER: I understand your arguments and they continue today on the Senate side.
Tom Coburn, thank you, sir.