Detroit awaits the battle royale in the House

There is a growing suspicion in Autodom that the political fight between Reps. Henry Waxman and John Dingell for chairmanship of the House Commerce Committee is about more than just an ambitious buck challenging an aging alpha male for dominance in the congressional herd of Democrats.

Nope. It's all about the money.

Like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Waxman is from California. Neither has ever cared much about the Detroit 3, their suppliers or their dealers.

Michigan, Ohio and Indiana shaped up as battleground states in the presidential election, so Pelosi, Waxman and others from their region feigned interest in the fate of the men and women whose livelihoods flow from the domestic auto industry.

Now that the election is over, who cares?

True, Pelosi and a couple of other congressional leaders met with honchos from the Detroit 3, but you have to believe that was a CYA tactic, probably at the behest of President-elect Obama. After all, Democrats don't want to incur the political wrath of UAW president Ron Gettelfinger and other labor leaders from the Heartland.

What galls the Left Coasters is that the House Commerce Committee is key in several areas of legislation that directly relate to the auto industry. And Dingell, who hails from suburban Detroit, has been a friend of the Detroit 3 for all of the more than half century he has been in the House.

Where does the money come in?

Think commerce.

Remember the $25 billion in low-cost loans that were approved to help Detroit develop and produce fuel-efficient vehicles? It's believed that Waxman and Pelosi want a healthy chunk of that money spent in California.

And who knows what strings they'll attach to any additional funds that may materialize for the Detroit 3?

I can't help it if that analysis sounds cynical.

With so much at stake, these are cynical times.

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