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Senator Bob Corker Moves To Protect Disenfranchised Dealers

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U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)

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You might remember U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) from such hits as "The 2009 Auto Show tour" and "Don't close my GM plant!" Well, now the man who's had it in for Detroit is working on legislation to help dealers who've been cut by Chrysler and General Motors.

In a nutshell, Corker's legislation forces both Chrysler and GM to allow terminated franchisees at least 180 days to shut down operations. At the end of that period, Chrysler and GM would have to reimburse dealers for any remaining vehicles and parts. The penalty for non-compliance: no more federal loans for either company.

We don't have the text of the legislation, however, in the weird way of Washington, we know that it arrives in the form of an amendment to a large, unrelated bill on tobacco regulation and the retirement system for civil servants. We also know that if approved, it would benefit 789 Chrysler dealerships (due for termination tomorrow) and 1,324 GM dealers whose franchise licenses will expire in 2010. What we don't know is whether Corker fully understands that Chrysler and GM are bankrupt, and if they have to shell out big bucks, they'll probably have to get it from their new sugar daddy (i.e. the federal government).

Our take: as good as Corker's proposal sounds for hard-hit dealers, it also sounds like another twist in the endless loop of loans and stipulations. But hey, no one asked us.

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Comments (3)
  1. If I remember correctly, Corker fights anything that is generally favorable to the unions. Could this be the case that sinking the UAW would somehow benefit one of his (money donating) constituencies?

  2. Well, the union will own a chunk of both companies after they emerge from bankruptcy, but I don't think this is enough to sink 'em--not that it'll help them either.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that this is Corker's way of saving face among his constituents. Corker's a freshman in DC, and he has to carve out a niche for himself. The current economic situation and the Chrysler/GM bailout will be two strikes against him when he runs for re-election. If he can say that he stuck up for "the little guy" (aka dealers), then he's got a minimal reprieve.

  3. Corker is funny. He first wanted GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt without any dollars from the Federal government. Even though this would have meant that the dealerships would have had to close without receiving any money. Now he wants the dealers to get some money for closing. It don't get it. Was he just having a senior moment before, are the dealers lining his pocket, or is he truly bi-polar? No, I get it he is really about giving away tax dollars too - - a true Republican!

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