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Auto dealers lament Shuler’s ‘no’ vote on bailout

U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, voted against the proposed bailout of the auto industry last week.

Gary Tallent, manager of a Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge dealership in Franklin, said he is disappointed in Shuler’s decision.

“I don’t know if he understands what it will do to the U.S. economy, “ said Tallent.

Tallent balked at a statement Shuler made in last week’s Smoky Mountain News in which Shuler said the bailout wouldn’t have any effect on the auto dealers.

“If they go out of business we will, too,” Tallent said of the Big Three. “Do the math for Pete’s sake.”

Co-owner of Smoky Mountain Chevrolet in Franklin Bob Crawford said he can understand Shuler’s voting against the bailout.

“Heath’s obviously thought through his answer,” said Crawford. “I respect his decision.”

Crawford agreed with Shuler that giving the auto industry a loan wouldn’t fix the problem but would only be a short-term solution. However, a loan would buy the auto industry the time to fix problems before going bankrupt, Crawford said.

Crawford fears that several million people could lose their jobs if the American auto industry fails.

Scott Rodes, owner of a GM dealership in Sylva, said he isn’t surprised Shuler is against the bailout given his track record voting against the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

Rodes, however, questioned a portion of Shuler’s statement that says, “(I) look forward to working with all interested parties – management, labor, dealership owners, and parts suppliers – to ensure the continued operation of the Big Three for years to come.”

Rodes wondered how the Big Three can continue on without a loan, adding that Shuler’s idea may be to let the auto companies fall into bankruptcy.

Shuler wants reform, not bailout

Here’s the statement issued by Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, on why he voted down the bailout last week:

“There is no question that the U.S. automotive industry is an essential part of our Nation’s economy. There is also no question that its current business models are not sustainable and the companies must reorganize. I support those efforts and look forward to working with all interested parties — management, labor, dealership owners, and parts suppliers — to ensure the continued operation of the Big Three for years to come.

“However, today’s $15 billion bridge loan offers little hope for creating that needed restructuring. Instead, it only puts off those difficult decisions for a few weeks, maybe months. That is wrong, just as it was wrong for this Congress to give $700 billion dollars to rescue Wall Street bankers.

“The job of Congress is not to be the bank of last resort for businesses. It is our job to be responsible with the money of those we represent, and this package does not meet that standard.”

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