A frantic, last-ditch attempt to forge
a relief package for the auto industry collapsed in the U.S. Senate, dealing a giant blow to the immediate hopes of the Big
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada suggested the $14 billion wouldn't be revisited until January. "It's
over with," he said.
The talks, which appeared close to a deal several times, broke off due to a sharp partisan
dispute over the wages paid to workers at the manufacturing giants.
After a marathon day of negotiations, top Democrats appeared close to a deal that would
toughen the bailout package in a bid to raise Republican support, which had proved an insurmountable stumbling block. The
focus of talks was on seeking commitments to restructure the industry's debt load and bring labor costs in line with wages
paid by Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. in the U.S.,
among other things.
But those talks fell apart after Republicans insisted that wages reach parity in 2009.
Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), who emerged as a pivotal player this week in negotiations over the industry's future, said negotiators
were close to striking a bipartisan compromise.
Democrats were willing to reach parity, but not on such a swift timetable. Mr. Reid
declared talks at an impasse. "We have not been able to get this over the finish line," he said. "We have worked and worked...that's
just the way it is."
This is without a doubt one of the most insane gambits possible. In case the Republicans
have forgotten the general economic backdrop, let's rehash the facts. According to the BLS:
Non-farm payroll employment fell sharply
(-533,000) in November, and the unemployment rate rose from 6.5 to 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S.
Department of Labor reported today. November's drop in payroll employment followed declines of 403,000 in September and 320,000
in October, as revised. Job losses were large and widespread across the major industry sectors in November.
The most generous reading of the employment numbers for the latest expansion is that
7.2 million jobs were created. Over the last three months we've lost 17.44% of those jobs. Continued weekly unemployment claims
are at multi-year highs: