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Ask Boehner: Taxpayer Loans to Auto Manufacturers, Eliminating the Secret Ballot

American Government

Ask Boehner: Taxpayer Loans to Auto Manufacturers, Eliminating the Secret Ballot

Congressman John Boehner
December 19, 2008

I occasionally use this column to answer questions from 8th District constituents. You may submit questions to askboehner@mail.house.gov. My office is available to help constituents and you will find contact information at the end of this column.

I would like to know your position on the White Houses decision to lend money to the automobile companies.

I was very disappointed in the White Houses decision to use more of your hard-earned tax dollars in a manner that is not consistent with Congress intent. The allocation of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) dollars to two of the three American auto companies does not in any way guarantee that the companies will become competitive again. Instead, it prolongs the agony for autoworkers and their families who will continue to wonder whether their jobs will continue as the companies remain incapable of competing with other manufacturers.

This is an unacceptable risk of tax dollars, and Congress refusal to take up a responsible alternative plan to help the automakers while it looks to move radical environmental legislation next year that will create an even worse environment for manufacturers threatens American jobs.

Ive asked Rep. Henry Waxman, incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to drop his support for legislation that would let his home state of California issue its own regulations for vehicle manufacturing. This regulatory assault would make the Big Three auto companies GM, Chrysler and Ford even less competitive as they are forced to retool their factories to build to Californias requirements. Even worse, 15 other states so far are considering following Californias lead and issuing their own building mandates.

Congress should take responsible steps to help the Big Three become competitive again and stop regulatory assaults by individual states. We need to give American companies the chance to succeed and create jobs, not be forced to eliminate them to comply with burdensome government mandates.

House Republicans recently proposed a no-bailout restructuring for the automakers that relies on the use of private funds and calls on the government to provide insurance, funded by the participants with a modest FDIC-like fee, to make available interim financing to give the companies time to restructure and hammer out union agreements that will let the manufacturers build cars that Americans want and can afford.

You can read more about this no-bailout proposal on my website, www.johnboehner.house.gov.

What do you think the chances are of the Employee Free Choice Act being signed into law

The ill-named Employee Free Choice Act is political payback from a Democratic Congress and White House to help increase union membership by eliminating the secret ballot for workers. Even Democratic leader former Sen. George McGovern has spoken out against this legislation, which is known as card check. But some in Congress are intent on moving forward with a bill that would unionize work places once a majority of workers sign a public card instead voting with secret ballots. This will leave workers vulnerable to intimidation and make it easier for union bosses to pressure workers to sign the cards even if they do not believe its in their best interest.

While few union bosses have been brazen enough to come right out and say that card check is political payback, Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) recently did just that. When asked by the Washington Times newspaper, McEntee said that unions expect [their] effort to be rewarded with action that Employee Free Choice Act.

But when this bill was brought up last year, nearly 80 percent of Americans opposed it because they understand the importance of protecting the secret ballot. If Democratic lawmakers in the House get the protection and security of a secret ballot in their caucus elections, American workers should have at the least the same protections.

Card check is an affront to the American people that could threaten bipartisan cooperation on the difficult issues facing Congress such as middle-class tax relief and energy reform. Workers and their families in Ohio and across our country are hurting during this time of economic crisis, and Democratic leaders are punting on critical issues and making plans to strip away one of workers most basic rights. This is unacceptable, and House Republicans will fight to protect the fundamental right of the secret ballot.

If you are an 8th District resident and have questions about either of these issues or other issues with the federal government please contact my office toll-free, 1-800-583-1001 or e-mail me through www.johnboehner.house.gov.

Boehner represents Ohios 8th District, which includes all of Darke, Miami and Preble counties, most of Butler and Mercer counties, and the northeastern corner of Montgomery County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.


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