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Shuster leaning against bailout for automakers

December 07, 2008|By DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, PA. - The chief executives of Detroit's Big Three returned to Washington, D.C., this week, rolling on to Capitol Hill in hybrid vehicles rather than flying in on corporate jets, but that might not change enough minds in Congress to pass a $34 billion bailout package, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster said.

"I'm leaning very much to opposing the plan," Shuster said Thursday during a stop in Waynesboro. "They came to Washington two weeks ago with no plan and asked for $25 billion. Now they've come back and asked for $9 billion more."

Shuster, R-Pa., said any plan to relieve General Motors, Ford and Chrysler should include removing the leadership of those companies and the United Auto Workers.

"I don't have confidence in the leadership of the Big Three and the UAW," Shuster said. He added that the $34 billion would probably not be the end of their requests for federal assistance.

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Shuster initially voted against the $700 billion relief package for Wall Street before voting for the measure after it passed the U.S. Senate.

"The financial rescue plan was for an entire segment of our economy, not just a single industry," Shuster said. Although the automakers are tied into many other parts of the economy, the financial system reaches into all aspects of the economy, he said.

Whether Congress votes on a bailout package next week will depend on whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believes there are enough votes to pass it, Shuster said. Without that assurance, he said a vote is unlikely.

Oil prices fell below $46 a barrel earlier in the week, a $100 drop from a few months ago, but that does not mean the United States should not expand domestic oil exploration, Shuster said.

"We've got to keep pushing for ways to get oil and alternative energy," Shuster said. If nothing is done to increase domestic production of oil, the price could return to the levels of the past summer once the global economy recovers and demand improves, he said.

Shuster said the deadly attacks this week in Mumbai, India, might serve to convince President-elect Barack Obama that a 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States.

"Now that he's receiving intelligence briefings every day ... that may have opened his eyes," Shuster said.

"We gave the Indians the intelligence that they may have a problem and they didn't act on it," Shuster said.

Pakistan will also have to "step up to the plate" against Taliban and al-Qaida in its tribal regions in the wake of the bombing. Since a new government was elected there, he said, the military has put more pressure on terrorists, he said.

The Iraqi Parliament has approved a plan for withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2011. However, that deadline might be contingent "based on what's going on on the ground at the time," Shuster said.

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