The Big Three Bailout & Health Care

In a recent article by columnist David Broder, arguing in favor of national health care, he states that Barack Obama “could well argue the current plight of the Big Three automakers stems in part from from the burden (they) are carrying for the failures of our employer base health system.” And that the foreign auto makers are “operating in countries where the government and society pay the cost of health care.”

There is a serious credibility issue here; first off there is no proof that our health care system is broken. Ask any Canadian or other country’s citizen, who comes to the United States for treatment. They come here because they can’t get care or treatment in a timely fashion, or at all, in their home country. One Canadian friend of mine told me that Canada has a two tier health care system, the government paid health care and (thankfully) the care available here in the United States. Secondly a large portion of the “foreign companies” are building their cars here in the United States by American workers under our “broken” system. What he also doesn’t say is that the non-union foreign car companies labor costs are half of the Big Three’s labor cost, and the foreign car companies labor costs are still a third higher than the labor cost of the average private sector worker.

The problem is not with the health care system but the with the United Auto Workers Union leveraging the market share the Big Three once had into salaries and benefits unheard of in solvent and competitive industries. Equally to blame are the company managers who agreed to those inflated salaries and benefits while they were fat and happy, now they can no longer compete and want the taxpayer to bail them out.

Mr. Broder expects the government to relieve the Big Three of their burden by nationalizing health care. Will that solve Detroit’s problem, hardly, does anyone even believe that the UAW would give up their “gold-plated” coverage in favor of a national system? Think again.