Looks like we're up for a bit of a power struggle in the House Energy Committee:
Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman has been coveting Energy Committee Chairman John Dingell's job for, well, decades. But never before has Waxman so directly challenged Dingell – who has sat atop the committee for 28 years – so directly.
It's hard to believe Waxman would make this bid without the support of Speaker Pelosi, a fellow Californian who tried quasi-successfully, to do an end run of her own around Dingell when she created the Special Committee on Global Warming – an issue that normally falls within the purview of the Detroit-loving Dingell's committee.
While Obama hasn't weighed in yet on the challenge, it's interesting to note that his top congressional liaison is Phil Schiliro, until recently Waxman's long-time chief-of-staff.
More discussion under the fold, but let me make a really quick statement here: if Waxman gets Energy, I'd appreciate it if Congress doesn't bail out the auto industry. The Democrats are just going to kill it in this country anyway, which means we'd get more use out of the money if we took it out to a field and set it on fire.It's like this. John Dingell (who represents Detroit) and Henry Waxman (who represents Beverly Hills) are in a bit of disagreement over what's more important for the country right now. Waxman wants heavier global warming palliatives; Dingell wants a functioning auto industry. As both of the above links note, Waxman is a particular ally of Speaker Pelosi, who has been more or less sparring with Dingell over this issue for years; and as the Swampland link notes, Obama's new congressional liaison is former Waxman chief of staff Phil Schiliro. So Dingell's kind of exposed, here.
What makes this fairly bizarre is that the Democrats are also calling for a bailout of the auto industry - while plans to reverse an executive order protecting the auto industry from California's desire for stricter environmental controls continue apace. So we'd end up with the government handing an industry about to fall apart a bunch of money for a bailout... which would end up not being used to actually bail out the industry; it'd be used to comply with restrictions that don't actually exist yet.
Now, I understand that a lot of people are going to want to argue that we need heightened CAFE standards. Fine, fine: as I recall, both Presidential candidates were down with that, so we'd hear that argument either which way. What's really at issue here is that the government is not so much sending mixed signals as it's sending pureed ones. If we're going to bail out the auto industry, then why are we wasting time on global warming restrictions, which are a luxury in this context? And if we're going to throw the auto industry to the wolves anyway, why are we giving them money?
And before you argue that you can have both a bailout and increased regulation of auto emissions, let me remind you: General Motors is on the verge of going bankrupt. Let me repeat that: General Motors is on the verge of going bankrupt. They are rapidly running out of margin:
"In this world, you don't go Chapter 11 reorganization,'' Maryann Keller, an independent auto analyst and consultant based in Greenwich, Connecticut, said in an interview. ``You go Chapter 7 liquidation."
Which means: no, you can't.