Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., [Sunday] gave cautious and limited endorsements of the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in the nation's automobile industry. Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Stabenow thanked President Obama for giving Chrysler more time to hammer out a merger with Fiat and General Motors more time to restructure. But she suggested any kind of bankruptcy - which Obama said is a possible outcome - would cause more pain in her state and would be a drain on the federal treasury. "I do not support bankruptcy as the first, second or third option," she said. But Corker said bankruptcy "is a possibility" and he put the onus on autoworkers to bring their pay more in line with what is paid to autoworkers, such as those in his state, who work for foreign-owned auto companies.
"I wish we had moved more quickly toward that and I think these companies would be in much better shape," he said. He also criticized the White House for firing the head of GM, saying, "I think that was heavy-handed. I think that is something that we will look back on in several years and be very concerned about." Stabenow suggested that Corker is not being consistent, recalling his attempts to force the United Auto Workers to make pay concessions. "When Bob talks about heavy-handedness in terms of the CEO, I remember back in December when Sen. Corker was in a room representing Republicans in the Senate saying that the UAW, the workers of the country, had to negotiate directly with Senate Republicans in order to be able to get their support." Corker called that "a gross misstatement" of what happened in December.
Corker and Stabenow both expressed concern about North Korea's missile launch, which seemed timed deliberately to coincide with the president's trip to Europe. The president was notified of the launch when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs woke him with the news at 4:30 a.m. local time. In remarks in Prague, the president told reporters the launch was "a provocative action" that "creates instability in their region, around the world." He said the United States will "work with the international community to deliver a strong message" to North Korea. Corker said the tone of the president's response "was very good." But he said "the follow-on is going to be more difficult." He urged Obama to focus on China. "Convincing China that additional sanctions need to be put in place is going to be one of the most important components to what we do going forward." Stabenow called for a coordinated response in the U.N. Security Council is needed.