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An Open Letter to the United States Congress: Don't Sell Out Taxpayers for Another Auto Bailout!

November 17, 2008

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union, I strongly urge you to oppose any language to bail out auto companies in legislation that may soon come before you. Whether through loan guarantees or some other form, under no circumstances should taxpayers be put on the hook again for the bad business decisions of some of the largest corporations in existence. Congress already passed an ill-advised $25 billion bailout of the auto industry in September, and now those beneficiaries are back for more handouts.

Fundamental problems in the cost structure and business model of American car manufacturers have been apparent for decades. For example, the USA Today reported last year that workers for the "Big 3" domestic automakers earned $73.20 per hour in total compensation, which is more than 50 percent higher than Toyota's U.S. workforce average of $48.00 per hour. When combined with crippling retirement and health care costs, it is no wonder that American automakers are struggling. Though the current financial crisis has surely worsened the automotive market, these challenges are in no way new.

American families face tremendous challenges in today's economy and Congress should not compound them by making the unconscionable decision to hand over piles of their hard-earned tax dollars to private firms. Bailing out auto companies with more taxpayer dollars would only encourage the kind of risky behavior and unsound business practices that helped create the difficulties the automotive industry faces today.

Most Americans recognize that risk is a fundamental element of our economy. Some businesses succeed tremendously, some fail spectacularly. But they should do so at their own risk, not with the unwilling backing of millions of citizens' paychecks. It is little wonder so many American taxpayers feel that Congress is not looking out for them.

Though the auto industry occupies a special place in the American story, nostalgia alone should not entitle it to billions in public money. If they seek relief, the Big 3 should restructure their businesses the way millions of families have had to restructure their budgets, rather than bellying up to Congress' trough. I implore you to protect taxpayers and oppose any bailout of the automotive industry. Roll call votes on such legislation will be heavily weighted in our annual Rating of Congress.


Andrew Moylan
Government Affairs Manager