Big Three Automakers Get Send-Off Tongue-Lashing
Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) saved his attack dog for last during today's House Financial Oversight committee hearing, a grilling of the heads of Detroit's Big Three automakers.
Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) lit into GM's Rick Wagoner, Ford's Alan Mulally and Chrysler's Bob Nardelli, saying the three automakers have spent their time making gas-guzzlers and fighting fuel-efficiency standards.
"All you did was fight me on CAFE standards," said Capuano, referring to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy benchmarks required of automakers. "You say you want fuel-efficient cars. If you had listened to us, you would have had them. Instead, you were giving away vehicles that got three miles to the gallon!"
Capuano continued, seeking assurances that Detroit would spend the $25 billion in loans in a fashion Capuano agrees with.
"I need some assurances you're not just going to blow this again, that you really did get the message," he said. "My fear is that you're going to take the money and continue the same stupid decisions you've made for 25 years. I don't know if it was you," he said, gesturing to the heads of the three automakers, "or your predecessors. I don't care."
Capuano wasn't finished. He began swearing at the executives.
"Damn it, I don't want to give you this money and have it stuffed back in my face," he raged on. "I want to honest-to-God know you got the message this time!"
He paused, and said: "Any one of you can just jump right in," which drew laughter from the chamber.
Ford's Mulally, probably the coolest customer of the three and former head of Boeing, responded: "I couldn't be more aligned with you. I have dedicated my life to fuel efficiency in airplane design for 30 years."
-- Frank Ahrens
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