WASHINGTON, DC — Two horse and buggy manufacturing executives made a trip to Capitol Hill on Friday, seeking government assistance for their flailing industry.
During hearings before the House Financial Services Committee, George Thomas Windham, CEO of McCooder & Sons Buggy and Surrey Company, said that the last hundred years has seen a drastic decline in sales, and that unless government action is taken immediately, horse and buggies will disappear from the American landscape.
“Horse and buggies have been the backbone of American commerce since the Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth,” said Windham. “How goes the horse and buggy, goes the country.”
Speaker of the House, Barbara Pelosi, was not impressed with the rhetoric. She asked the CEOs how they would use the funds given to them in a government bailout, and what assurances the American people would have that the executives wouldn’t be back in another hundred years asking for more.
“We want to see a plan,” said Pelosi. “Your industry hasn’t met the transportation needs of consumers since the Teddy Roosevelt administration. When fuel prices were at an all-time high, we should have seen covered wagons spreading out from here to Oklahoma and into the vast western territories a-yonder; instead, families chose to stay in their foreclosed homes rather than ride in your bouncy wooden boxes with the ghastly wheels. ”
Rep. Barney Frank, Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, indicated that the Horse and Buggy industry “has maintained a steady decline throughout two of the last four centuries” and he couldn’t see a connection to the nation’s current economic crisis.
McCooder countered that over 120 jobs would be lost if his company went under. “Skilled workers are needed to build these wagons,” he said. “We have the chief woodworker, Millard Malloy and his staff of young’uns — a real fine craftsman and a wizard with a chisel and a hand lathe. If our company goes out of business, where else will he be able to apply his skills at forgin’ a singletree for a Buckboard or planing the sidings of an oak Prairie Schooner – all with his own hands, mind ya?”
“Don’t forget about Robert Toddman,” added Brendan Holiday, CEO of Conestoga Wagons, LTD, “the best wheelwright this side of Boston. And then there’s the dozens of ox, horse, and mule ranchers who provide the power. They’ve been at the forefront of energy independence way before anyone even knew there was a polar ice cap.”
Rep. Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, noted that the horse and buggy executives traveled to Washington in a chauffeur-driven Lincoln Navigator and Chevy Suburban.
“Squandering your shareholders’ money by travelling in gas-guzzling, inefficient American cars isn’t going to win the hearts and minds of taxpayers,” said Waxman. “Is this really the message you want to send?”
McCooder and Toddman did not respond. Sensing a congressional resolution was far from the horizon, they gathered their belongings and demanded a meeting with President Lincoln.