Commentary: Detroit bailout sounding worse and worse

This editorial appeared in The State.

Congress in recent days has made two things plain with regard to the Detroit Three automakers (still known as the "Big Three," although they no longer dominate the marketplace):

• It is determined to do something, and to do it right away.

• It doesn’t really know what to do.

A couple of days ago, the plan seemed simple enough: Give automakers $15 billion or so — instead of the $34 billion they'd asked for — just to delay the inevitable until March. That approach was at least plainly and obviously unappealing. Essentially, we'd be throwing $15 billion into a hole, and accomplishing nothing other than kicking the can down the road.

In the last couple of days, as Democrats negotiate with the White House to try to shape a deal that enough Senate Republicans will vote for — realizing that some Republicans will never go for it — the "plan" has gotten more complicated. Note that we put "plan" in quotation marks, because this seems a dubious application of the word. "Plan" suggests coherence; it implies that we know where we are going. What was shaping up as this editorial was written seemed undeserving of the term.

Oh, but it would all be guided by a "car czar" to be named later — by George W. Bush, who will be out of office next month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has hinted that the czar would not need to be replaced once Barack Obama is president, thereby leading to speculation that the czar would be someone the president-elect had agreed to, we sorta kinda hope.

To read the complete editorial, visit The State.