WASHINGTON - Everyone, it seems, likes the Daimler-Chrysler merger. Even Rep. Marcy Kaptur, traditionally one of the harshest congressional critics of foreign influence on American business, has declared the planned marriage a good deal for everyone.
'We always wanted to sell more Jeeps in Europe. I think we just found our showroom,' said Kaptur, D-Ohio, whose Toledo-area district is home to the Chrysler Corp. plant that produces Cherokees and Wranglers.
A veteran congressional staffer said the deal appears to have none of the elements that could trigger a Washington reaction: hostile take-over, concentration of the market, job losses or a threat to national security.
Still, Chrysler ranked 75th among the top 100 Pentagon contract
ors in fiscal 1997 with $173 million in business, said Defense Department spokesman Glenn Flood. Thus, the Daimler-Chrysler deal is likely to be reviewed by an interagency committee that examines foreign investment in the United States, he said.
Industry lobbyists also were buzzing with questions late last week about what happens to the American Automobile Manufacturers Association, which recast itself five years ago as a Big 3-only organization.
AAMA President Andrew Card was traveling and could not be reached for comment.
But Walt Huizenga, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, said the merger is more evidence of the 'fallacy' of the Big 3's attempt 'to cast themselves politically and publicly as the only true American auto companies, and other automakers building cars in the U.S. as foreign.'
Similarly, Philip Hutchinson, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, said the merger shows again that there is really only one automobile industry and that there is no real need for two automotive trade associations, his and AAMA, in the United States. He said, however, he could not predict what AAMA will do.
He mused, 'Should we now call them the Big 2?'