Before Republicans follow this free-trade fanaticism to their final interment, they might study the results of a poll by Peter Hart:
-- Seventy-eight percent of Americans believe the U.S. auto industry is highly or extremely important. Three percent think we can do without it.
-- Ninety percent of Americans believe the death of the U.S. auto industry would do great damage to our economic future.
-- By 55 percent to 30 percent, Americans favor federal loans to save it. And by 64 percent to 25 percent Americans back President-elect Obama's resolve not to let the U.S. auto industry go under.
If the GOP blocks these loans, and the industry dies, the party can forget about Ohio, Michigan and the industrial Midwest. For the Reagan Democrats will never come home again. Nor should they.
By the choices we make, we define ourselves and reveal what we truly care about. Thus, consider:
We bail out the New York and D.C. governments of Abe Beame and Marion Barry. We bail out a corrupt Mexico. We bail out public schools that have failed us for 40 years.
We bail out with International Monetary Fund and World Bank loans and foreign aid worthless Third World regimes.
We bail out Wall Street plutocrats and big banks.
But the most magnificent industry, the auto industry that was the pride of America and envy of the world, we surrender to predator-traders from Asia and Europe, lest we violate the tenets of some 19th-century ideological scribblers that the old Republicans considered the apogee of British stupidity.
Nancy Pelosi is talking about tying loans to a restructuring of the industry. But Congress is not competent to do that.
What needs to be restructured is the U.S. tax-and-trade regime.
Dump globalism. Instruct Japan, Canada, Korea, Germany and China that if they wish to sell cars here, they will assemble them here and produce the parts here. And we shall have the same free access to and same share of their auto market as they have of ours.
To accomplish this, use the same import quotas and tariffs Ronald Reagan used to save the steel industry and Harley-Davidson.
Reciprocal trade. Even Democrats like FDR used to practice it.