Congressional Democrats Discover Dealergate

That smell emanating from the Chrysler dealer closings has finally reached a level that forces prominent Democrats to complain. Yesterday House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Daniel Maffei (all Democrats) sent a letter to President Obama asking for a “compelling justification” for the closings.

We are writing to express our concerns about General Motors’ and Chrysler’s decision to close profitable automobile dealerships across the country, and urge you to ask GM and Chrysler to delay final action on proposed closures pending further review of the decision to consolidate dealerships and the process by which Chrysler and GM selected the dealerships to close.

Closing these dealerships will put over 100,000 jobs at risk at a time when our country is shedding jobs at an alarming rate. We also question the criteria being used to determine which dealerships should be closed and the fundamental fairness involved in this effort. It is our view that the market rather than leaving it up to the manufacturers whose poor leadership contributed to their demise. Furthermore, we believe car dealers will be key players in any effort to revive the American auto industry. (emphasis mine)

It’s no mystery what is really going on with this newfound Democrat respect for “fundamental fairness” and the free “market”. Car dealers are high profile, integral players in their local markets. As such they necessarily have to establish their reputations and integrity locally. As former House Speaker Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill famously quipped, “all politics is local”. The inevitable pushback on the Chrysler closings is a bottom up movement initiated and pursued by a constituent group that has a deep reservoir of good will and trust established over decades in local communities.

The overarching power grab by the Obama administration Auto Task Force is finally meeting an equal (or greater) force rising from Congressional Districts where people are losing jobs and families are displaced. There is no amount of high level deal making and central control from Washington that will appease these aggrieved parties if they see that the dealership closings have even a hint of cronyism or political self dealing. Their wrath will be directed at their Congressman. It appears that Steny Hoyer has already received the message.

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