November 7th, 2008
08:43 PM GMT
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NEW YORK – General Motors laid it on the line Thursday. At the rate things are going, they do not have enough cash to operate next year.

They need government help and they need it now. Conservative estimates say Detroit's big three need between $25-50 billion immediately to keep their doors open.

The problem – not everyone is convinced it is a good idea to give them the cash.

Those in favor of the loan guarantees argue if you bailed out the likes of AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and injected cash into the nation's banking system, then why not lend a helping hand to car-makers?

A study by The Center for Automotive Research has suggested as many as 2.5 million jobs would be lost if the big three U.S. auto companies fail.

Those layoffs would hit a U.S. economy that has already shed more than 1 million jobs in 2008.

Others also warn that many institutions own GM and Ford bonds and that letting them go under would create more turmoil in already fragile markets.

Those against giving Detroit cash complain it would be throwing good money at a broken industry.

They say these companies are too big. They promised too much to past workers. Earlier government loans have failed to spur real change.

Many wonder why this time would be any different. Maybe it is time to face the music.

Unlike the bank bailout which was designed to address credit and lending, this bailout is more about saving jobs.

Analysts argue that while big, the auto industry is not nearly as crucial as it once was. They say the money would be better spent retraining displaced workers and getting them different jobs.

And then there is the moral hazard issue. Where do we draw the line? If taxpayers bailout the car companies, who will be next? Airlines? Construction? There isn't enough money to bailout every company hurt by in this downturn.

What do you think? Is it fair to help some industries, but not others? How should lawmakers decide who survives and who fails? Would you buy a car from a company in bankruptcy?

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Filed under: Business

soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Daniel D.

    No bailout monies for anyone. This industry has been in turmoil for many, many years. It's not like this is anything new. Previous loans and grants by government have done nothing. We hear crying from people in that industry about losing jobs. Well, you should have realized years ago that this would happen. It's not about just the economy but it's also about the quality of cars being made. Why invest so much money into a car that lose a 1/3 value as soon as you buy it nevermind drive it off the lot, or that will break down because it's been engineered to do that by the makers of the vehicle every year? There are many other reasons and the companies who had investments in stocks with these automakers should fire it's entire finance staff for not foreseeing that this would happen WHEN everyone in the entire world knew it would happen.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  2. Ray

    As an automotive industry employee for over 15 years, a Detroit native, and someone who is familiar with both the European and American automotive markets and industries, I am definitely against any sort of bailout for the U.S. automotive industry.

    The U.S. automotive industry must finally begin to face up to the fact that it has to downsize and respond to real customer needs. It must innovate and compete with companies who know what real lean manufacturing and design to cost principles are about. Our American companies pay lip service to these goals and operating principles, and then turn around and go back to the same old moribund way of doing business and bringing products and technolgies to market. All of this is done based on extremely short term high profit goals so that the existing top executives receive fat bonus payments while the company's long term perspectives are never even considered.

    This is what I know about the U.S. automotive industry. It is truly a dinosaur in the purest sense of the word. Unable to adapt, short-sighted, inflexible and unable to inspire confidence, –this industry must either reform itself or be allowed to die out with all of the dire consequences this means. It enrages me that small innovative companies fight for survival while the dinosaurs, because of their sheer size, are given a free lunch.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  3. Ivan

    America likes it BIG. American cars are too big and too ugly-they look like some prehistoric monsters , whose only aim is to scare you .Dinosaurs died out because they were too big to adapt to a changing environmet.Same holds true for the american automakers.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  4. Pete Bursnall

    Are the Big 3 paying the price for driving America's addiction to large, inefficient vehicles? Are these vehicles really what the people want or are they just what the company's want to sell? Smaller more efficient cars are so much more popular in other countries and in an age of crunches and climate change perhaps it is time for the American automotive industry to wake up, catch up and get with the program!

    If the government does bail them out then the $$ must come with some hefty conditions about just what kind of vehicles are suitable for the 21st century.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  5. Bernard Faas

    These companies were completely uninterested in the trend towards smaller, economic cars. By paying money to the Bush-minded politicians, they were able to influence environmental policies instead of investing in greener cars.
    Spend the money on creating other industries. This one deserves to go under.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  6. ghislain ruelle

    dear american friends,

    I have very often spoken with some of my friends in Michigan about the future of the big three. I think , when you take of look on the evolution from 2003 of the share's value of GM for instance , that the worm was already in the apple.
    At that time when all the other cars industries where developing new types of engines, less gas consuming, the big three where doing almost nothing.
    Even if you give a lot of cash to them, the advantage taken by the ohers will never be trespassed. Now it is time to make one company with three of them to preserve what can be saved. Another way to preserve as many jobs as possible would be to develop, last but not least, with the technological potential of a part of the big three, new technologies for the development of other sources of energy which require more or less a lot of mechanical and engine like parts.
    Time to drill is over, time to diversify our sources of energy is arrived. The research potential lying in USA can contribute to a major change in this direction. It is a big challenge.

    your belgian friend

    November 7, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  7. KP

    These industries charge us "big bucks" for a new automobile and now they expect a bail out? I don't think so. Where does it end? Pizzazz Hut going under maybe? Do we bail them out? They employ lots of folks!

    What the auto industry is NOT willing to do, is decrease their PROFIT. Screw the stock market, if you don't have a business, the paper is worthless. Gheeze, simple economics. It's all about GREED!!

    So auto makers, you keep charging high prices, and the dealers also,we'll stop buying, and you'll be history. You want that.

    Big Dummies!!!!!!!!

    November 7, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  8. Esther Phillips

    Dear Miss Lake

    I may take a very European view but I cannot believe you don't mention the issues of global warming and the problem of the American car driven lifestyle.
    It is nobody's fault but their own that these companies have not had the wisdom to see the tide turning and to stop investing in these terrible monsters called SUVs.
    Get them to build tiny electric cars or bycicles, the workers shouldn't be too difficult to re-skill and will be happy to get a wage whatever they build. Come on America show us you still can lead the way instead of leading us all to nowhere.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  9. Denny Sangiovanni

    President elect Obama should help Car's makers under a plan to put in the market vehicles that can achieve at least 40 mpg, Hybrid vehicles, or Electric vehicles. Looking to achieve savings in our dependency on fuels. That's short term policy. Long term policy we need to turn around technology in order to change the whole transportation system to use fuel that we don't need to import.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:38 pm |
  10. Nic

    An american icon ford chevrolet chrysler let then burn I say enough is enough how much does the american public havet o carry the burden of big corporations paying themselves huges salaries and huge bonuses every year for the past 30 or so years. If the huge payrolls had been something more along the lines of what the average worker makes then these companies would have plenty of money. After these companies are broke those ceo's will still have their fortune with their big homes and expensive cars while the little guy has nothing. This is capitalism or greed! We have become a country that is will to step on the neck of our fellow american just to get a dollar.How sad it is.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:39 pm |
  11. Scott

    Bailout's by the government are a bad idea, unless these come with checks and balances, unlike the big Bush give-away to the banks. The bank bailout has helped create three "Megabanks" each of which now has a market share of the banking industry is direct violation of federal law. The banks will continue to borrow money from the Fed at rock-bottom rates only to lend it sparingly at astromonically higher rates to consumers...they will increase their's abusive. These institutions are BAD for the economy and consumers. The bailout would best stimulate the economy by mandating goverment voting stock in the banks, capping fees and consumer interest rates, and mandating that all monies be repaid to goverment FIRST, and private shareholders LAST. Consumer protections such as rate and fee caps should remain and limits placed on leveraged investment schemes.
    As it stands now, the bailout is a give-away to the major banking players with no oversight and little real consumer protections.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  12. Marc

    Propping up massive consumer goods corporations that produce things consumers do not wish to purchase is unwise. Let them fail through controlled, phased destruction. It is the only way new and dynamic businesses can take root and keep the free market alive.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  13. johnny dawson

    Let GM go broke. We need to break their unions. The union employees are greedy – they think they "deserve" homes with granite counter tops and cars with leather upholstery. They are "entitled" to these things because they are "American." And they turn racist/protectionist when auto workers in foreign countries offer the customer a better deal for his money. I say to hell with them. Let them wallow in the results of their greed.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  14. Marty Burke

    It seem that the Big 3 auto makers have been charging top prices for second rate cars for many years. At the same time, they spend money like drunken sailors on ads that do not generate revenue.
    No one wants to see 2.5 million jobs eliminated, but that decision is probably up to the unions more than the economic status of the country.
    Perhaps we need a leaner Big 2 that operates efficiently. After all, there are certainly enough cars sold to show a profit.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  15. Ron

    My opinion it is a hard nut to crack I don't like bailouts especially to those that have not been doing their jobs. We should have had at least 50 mile per gallon cars by now yet new models only beat my 13 YO pick up by 3 or 4 MPG. They didn't invest in the required R & D, they prefer to give Execs multimillion $ bonuses. Their innovation has been if you want fuel efficient vehicles you have to make enclosed bicycle frames with a putt putt engines. They still can't make vehicles that don't just rot away in 3 to 5 years of winter driving yet the cost of vehicles has increased 8 to ten fold since the 1970's. Isn't the Execs job to keep the company profitable? If so why are they still holding their jobs? Why are they still getting their big bonuses? Why are they whining like babies, can they live on McDonald's wages? No, then why do they expect the rest of us too? Let them dig into their bank accounts overseas and bail the company out themselves.... That's my opinion, I'm already broke and my retirement account has already been cleaned out by the Robber Barons.

    November 7, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
  16. Gary

    Clearly, the problems facing the Big Three automakers will be painful in their resolution, whatever the means of resolution chosen.

    November 7, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  17. Carlos

    Sure, let's bail them out... We're half way to socialism as it is. The gov't can send me a check for $1,000,000 because I'm broke too. Let's go ahead and nationalize the airline industry while we are at it... and the petroleum industry too!! Why not. It's a free for all! Free money for everyone... They are already printing money as fast as they can spend it (rather give it away).

    Mismanagement. The Germans and Japanese make better cars than GM. That's capitalism. Let them fall... just like they should have let Wall Street take a bath. Free market capitalism and democracy. Isn't that what our soldiers are dying for? Why have so many have sacrificed their lives?

    America is a sinking ship. Time to jump before it goes under.

    November 7, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  18. David

    If there is no way for the industry to make a profit, then there is no point in wasting money on them. So before we try a bailout, I'd a like to knowthat this industry can make a profit. It seems that at current pay/benefit scales, they can't. Accepting a salary cut would change the economics of the industry, perhaps to reflect the real value of an automotive worker today, would let those workers keep their jobs, and would keep the industry afloat. Sure it would be nice to keep the industry afloat at higher salaries, but that doesn't seem possible. Isn't a lower wage better than none?

    November 7, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  19. Beaniewhiz

    The US auto industry hasn't evolved at the rate of it's global competitors, so this is the result. This is exacerbated by the excessive power of the UAW. The whole model is flawed. If the Fed does bail-out these three dinosaurs, it'll be contributing to the problem, not fixing it. Socializing is not the answer. Perhaps a consolidation of two or all three combined with the neutering of the UAW is the answer. While the loss of jobs would be painful initially, it may allow for a new, stronger, globally competitive company to emerge. It would allow for a new company to gather all of the technical an operational strengths of the three and shed the weaknesses. I, personally, wouldn't consider buying a car from any of the three in their current capacity.

    November 7, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  20. David Z

    If they had just started making cars people in this day and age actually would buy, as opposed to an outdated and an ecologically/economically infeasible business model, they might not be in this situation today. Bailing them out is just saying it's ok to plod along the same route that's put us in this mess. Let 'em fail. It's been a long time coming. Put the money into research that would actually fix the probelm.

    November 7, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  21. Jim

    I am opposed to susidizing the auto industry; I am in favor of giving some help to the workers.

    The leaders have taken risks based on the assumption that they would be bailed out... this goes back to the previous Chrysler bailout.

    During the past years they have made enormous profits on high margin SUV's , virtually abandoning smaller vehicles....much less using these profits to develop hybrids and other modern fuel-efficient vehicles.

    If any assistance is given, it should be coupled with various conditions:
    1. Payback of all assistance in full at full market interest rates.
    2. Any new investors in auto-industry debt or new stick should be required to hold them for a minimum time, say 2 years to eliminate short term speculors.
    3. Limits on executive compensation. Including base salary limits and elimination of all bounuses and deferred compenstion (including past grants) until ALL government aid and subsidies are paid back.
    4. Represation on the Boards of Directors from the general public for the duration.
    5. Give-ups and some salary and benefit provisions on the part of the unions to meet world competition.
    6.. Most of today's jobs will simply not exist just a few years from now; Unions should commit to constant traning and development of job skills of their members to meet future needs.
    7. Part of the aid should be given directly to help pay 'legacy' costs past retirement and health plans.

    November 7, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  22. Douglas W Ferguson

    General Motors is dead. The Oil industry has not helped, the unions have not helped nor has our beloved congress. The Clinton Administration had a gathering of the big three 10 years ago and at that time They told the world that they were going to produce a new car great mpg , our government gave them $ Millions of dollars to develope a new more efficent vehicle. The Asian MFGrs were scared to death and came up with the Prias and made some rather great mileage vehicles. Our auto makers took the Money and did nothing as far as I can see. GM made 5 or 6 little red cars. I saw one in Hollywood make it s debut. Where are they now??
    Now these Auto executives want to try this again! I do not think so. India has the Lata almost in production $2500 and 60 MPG, China has the Cherry $2500 60 MPG. Hay the Hundi motors is 1/3 of the cost of a Lexus and they are just getting started.
    It is all over America for the auto industry Like it or not!

    November 7, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  23. Michael

    I think we do need to bail out and nationalize several of our industries for a period of time.. and keep a thumb on the pulse. I know that is socialist... but the free market has put us in a position with little left in options.
    I also believe once nationalized.. no golden parachutes.. or fat retirements... often CEO's are well rewarded for poor preformance.. and if money is given for a bail... don't go out Golfing... like AIG.... that sets a great example!


    November 7, 2008 at 11:38 pm |
  24. Ralph Henson

    If congress approves something it will be messed up. Banks are still going to pay lobbists, AIG spent money on a junket, fun time, and if we keep on giving the financial whizzes money and jobs we will be bankrupt and cannot bailout the auto industry. Tax payers should not be forced to give money tp people earning more than $200,000.00 a year. Maybe we should make them work for $50,000.00 a year so they would know how people besides Drs. Lawyers, finance whizzes that loose a Billion $ a day, and congressional dunces should join them,
    Nobody should get anything for nothing. If you don't work, you do not eat. That is what Paul told the early church and since God doesn't change, should be same today.
    Giving money to a business is at best socialism and at worst communism. I realize our president elect said he wants to redistribute the wealth,
    but I have not seen him cut his salery and redistribute it. Never ask anyone else to do what you will not do. That is what is wrong with Congress and the rest of government.
    BTW, if a car is supposed to last 100,000 miles, why build enough for every driver to trade them in with only 10,000 miles? Or a computer must be replaced every 3-6 months? What are people thinking? Our landfills cannot take it.

    November 7, 2008 at 11:41 pm |
  25. Jeff Turley

    For decades the US automobile industry has acted like it knew what it was doing, where it was going and what were the best products to offer.

    They have, for decades, been largely wrong. Not to belittle the ability of the workers in the auto industry but they have been historically paid way too much money, with too much overtime and too many benefits for what is assembly work. Just assembly work.

    There are too many people on the line drawing too many salaries. When the Japanese showed that increase automation led to decreased production costs and increased product quality, Detroit's auto unions resisted and the companies capitulated.

    That was the beginning of the end for these companies. When the operation of the company is skewed towards job protection rather than company protection then eventually the resources to maintain those high-wage jobs will drain the company dry.

    In the 70's when the concern over foreign oil dependence reached its peak the auto makers did not retool and create smaller, more energy-efficient machines. The Japanese did and carved huge slices of the US auto market for their own.

    Americans have been sold a pig in a poke. The marketing geniuses who convinced millions of people to buy big, gas guzzling SUVs are also to blame. In a world where the dependence on foreign oil is even more pronounced than ever, these automakers have shackled America's economic future to overseas sources. Oil sources.

    I have long said that if there is no evidence of collusion between the Big Three automakers and the giant oil companies, this should be the trail that should be followed. Why else would a corporate entity sacrifice the essential independence of its customer base.

    Let them fail.

    The money that would be injected into a broken system would be better off retraining those workers for something sustainable in the future. Put them all to work on creating energy independence for this nation would be a good start.

    November 7, 2008 at 11:49 pm |
  26. Lloydcom

    I believe this is an excellent time to make important changes in the automotive manufacturing sector. The change is to make cars less dependent on gasoline, and more towards natural gas powered vehicles, and hybrids.

    With public cash injections there would be terms and conditions to go with it Failure would not be an option.. Ford would have to be actively working towards this goal, with a condition that the company reduce the amount of vehicles dependent on gasoline, and creating a new business model on retrofitting older vehicles to these "greener fuels".

    It is always nice to have a large automobile company bailed out like Chrysler was, but today we have an opportunity to pave the way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and less dependent on foreign oil.

    Ford is that company.

    November 7, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  27. Kelly

    Let them sink.

    November 7, 2008 at 11:52 pm |
  28. David

    The auto companies don't have a clue what is wrong. I think a good healthy bankruptcy would help them clear up a lot of their past union contracts that were WAY too generous, given the health of the patient. Sometimes, even the big 3 needs to be humbled like the airlines have been. There is way too much production, promotion and wasteful spending for what they are selling. Tighten up the belts guys, dump a lot of spare people and get on with life. Or, close the doors and sell the pieces to someone who can run it with all the 100 years of baggage.

    November 7, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  29. Tom B

    This is a core industry group, probably the largest employer left in the country. The argument against bailing out the financial institutions is that they were run by crooks, and should not be bailed out. The automakers, on the other hand, are victims of the crooked financial companies whose failures have resulted in freezing the credit markets. In normal times, the huge oil price drop of recent times would have jump started auto these times, it had no visible effect and people still can't get car loans.

    I think it is obvious the carmakers should be bailed will save a huge number of jobs. I would expect it could be done under the present bailout–so called TARP plan–and would be a FAR better use of money than bailing out banks. Alternatively, the government could make the banks providing loans to the automakers a condition of the continued existence of the banks.

    But the carmakers must be saved by some method. As Obama said today, in return they should be retooling to help solve the problem of American energy independence by accelerating the shift to fuel efficient car production.

    November 7, 2008 at 11:56 pm |
  30. John

    It's hard to feel sympathy for GM in this situation.

    The company was offered a technology tie-up by Toyota a good 12 years ago. GM apparently signed the deal but didn't take it seriously.
    Toyoto and Nissan, to their immense credit, saw which way the market was headed, and started developing hybrids, battery and plug-ins and are now market leaders in these technologies.

    Leaving GM and Ford in the dust.

    While Toyota is also hurting, it is building cars consumers want and need.

    Why didn't GM take the chance when it had it?. .

    November 7, 2008 at 11:56 pm |
  31. Penny Prater

    I work at one of the big three automakers. I find it extremely hard to believe that the people of the united states are so against saving the usa made automakers. When it is their fault that the big three automakers are in this position.. Americans want the new president to help with all the foreign exchange and trade that is going on and keep the money and jobs in the USA but he can't do it on his own. Americans are the ones buying the foreign products, honda, toyota, kia, and etc. How about supporting your own instead of the foreign products. Do they not understand that they are part of the problem? And when we lose our jobs it will be to foreign automakers in turn will put many other americans out of jobs. As you all stated on the news this evening, if one of the big three goes out, it will effect over 2 million americans. I think americans should take a good look that it is not all the governments fault of where we are at today. Americans say well the toyota plant is in the USA, well guess what that profit goes back to Japan, it doesn't stay in America. How about going to buy an american made vehicle instead of buying that foreign vehicle. Let,s go with Obamas saying " We need CHANGE". Americans need to help the government in this foreign endeavor.

    November 7, 2008 at 11:59 pm |
  32. Ryan in OR

    Injecting money into the banks and Wall Street was important to save the economy because they control the economy from many of the fundamental aspects. The big 3 are not big players in the economy and if they die we just have a lot of unemployed workers. They have known for years that their cars were not keeping up with modern design and fuel effeciency. the bank disaster came on a lot faster.

    let them die out and see what happens. this may be what is needed to finally get a decent fuel effecient car out of this country.

    November 8, 2008 at 12:00 am |
  33. Robert Tule


    November 8, 2008 at 12:06 am |
  34. Charles Wirrell

    Detroit has had ample opportunity to produce smaller fuel efficient vehicles and has chosen not to and in doing so has chosen their path. I say let them drown in their self-made sea of red ink!

    November 8, 2008 at 12:07 am |
  35. Jared Politi

    i say let them all suffer for poor management...

    November 8, 2008 at 12:09 am |
  36. Eduard

    The problem is extremely easy to solve. Make Gas ten times more expensive with abusive taxes. Then use this money to help buying very litle consuming cars. Made in the US if you want. This way eveerybody will have to change his car sooner or later, and the cars industry will survive.
    Good for the economy and the environment.

    November 8, 2008 at 12:12 am |
  37. spencer p.

    Infrastructure-Natural Gas-Hydrogen-Electric-Diesel

    Perhaps the government needs to take over auto making and immediately institute a crash program of building Natural Gas powered cars. At the same time the government could take Infrastructure action to build Natural Gas refueling stations everywhere. These same stations could become the basis of a future Hydrogen or Electric refueling network.

    Big Oil can get involved if they want to modify their gasoline network. Or they could put in a Diesel distribution network like Europe. Why else should they play any more of a role in the future than Detroit?

    November 8, 2008 at 12:20 am |
  38. A. Perez

    I think one should look at what numbers GM + Ford are making compared to other sellers like Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi,etc. If the numbers arent sufficient and there is evidence of a downfall on sales, and lack of quality (no offense) PLUS a history of not doing so well with past loans, then I think that draws the line then, thats enough to say no, im sorry, what was, was. I DO think that investing for training people for other companies and getting the unemployed an actual employment would be a smarter thing to do.

    thats what i think. obviously there are much more details that need to be looked at, I know its not that simple and that there are people working in those industries that can basically retire in the next few months, but unfortunately thats been our reality for years, sadly to say.

    but i do hope everything goes well for everyone.

    November 8, 2008 at 12:40 am |
  39. KanKan

    I think it is very cynical and ignorant to believe that America was built solely on industries only, and not on policies that supported their success. The automotive industry has benefited alot of Americans, and to this day employs many as well. However, through globalization and innate need to increase market shares around the world, the American automotive companies have neglected to make sure their ducks-are-in-row in their own home.

    The success of the American automotive companies are key to future job creation. So, I would think it would wise to support them during their time of need no matter what the past has shown. However, critically thinking things through to ensure that any monetary support should be used to add value to the company, not fill the pockets of the executives. Thus safeguards need to be put in place.

    It is a known reality in the past and in automotive companies in emerging countries that automotive companies create a wide range of jobs. For any American govt policy maker to disregard that it will take jobs to maintain the American economy will be another uneducated and failed elected political officer.

    November 8, 2008 at 12:43 am |
  40. Ken

    The auto industry in America has for decades been sutained by grants and tax breaks which have served only one purpose, to save jobs (votes and contributions) and prop up an increasingly unprofitible business which produces an increasingly wastefull product. While I feel for the everyday men and women whose daily lives revolve around the car maker plants, it has to be said that the writing has been on the wall for many years. 25 – 50bn dollars! Just to keep the doors open and continue down the same path to destruction, how many billions, how much pain will it take before the leaders of industry, goverment and the everyday men and women say enough is enough. Yes the quick and easy fix is to throw more money at the problem and make it go away until after the next election, but it wont solve the problem, meanwhile the "Greatest Nation on Earth" can't even afford to look after the health needs of its most vulnerable.

    If "Change" has truly come to America, then let it start here, as a great man once said – We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
    Make no mistake, it will be very hard.

    November 8, 2008 at 12:43 am |
  41. David Munn

    Unfortunately, with the bailout of companies such as AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government has embarked on a slippery slope of propping up failing companies who were failing for a reason.

    Those companies who are in financial trouble are in financial trouble because of their own mistaken choices and market forces. CEO's at the failing banks made rash and financially dangerous decisions that eventually put their companies deep into the red.

    The same can be said for the big three. When every foreign auto company was offering safer, smaller, fuel efficient cars the big three continued for a time pumping out gas-guzzling SUVs. It was a case of decision-making that had gained a momentum and couldn't be changed. Only with steep rises in fuel costs did the big three begin to offer more pertinent choices to a market already controlled by foreign companies.

    The bailout of the banks should not have happened and it should not happen with the big three. American resources and money would be better spent revitalizing other sectors of manufacturing than protecting diseased companies.

    November 8, 2008 at 12:45 am |
  42. HonduranVista

    "Where do we draw the line?" Perhaps at some point we will no longer be able or have the means to draw the line. Especially a line further down the never-ending trail of debt financing growth, consumption and governments.

    A fundamental shift in global financing appears inevitable to me at this point with a return to economies founded on balanced growth, customer value, service and 'fair' returns to investors. Growth based on value not creative financing that feeds the lenders and as we have seen in the last month has little regard for the common folk who invest their meager saving into a system that is simply not sustainable.

    I have a little less sympathy when I reflect on the wages that all from the top Car Industry CEOs, to highly paid plant workers and union officials, to our politicians earn. Yes we all need to live... but relative to most of the world's population, most north americans are challenged but still blessed.

    I am presently working as a volunteer in Latin America and I urge all Americans to work with your elected officials and institutions to turn the great nation ship of the USA onto a new and sustainable path... or I fear that as with the tragedy of the Titantic, wishful optimism does not mean we are unsinkable.

    Let us all make a loud "Optimistic call for real economic change"

    November 8, 2008 at 12:47 am |
  43. Sergio G. Zapata

    Auto makers are stupid crooks. They built cars that sucks gas like crazy when we had the technology to make more efficient and cheaper cars and be oil independent.
    They were the silent partners of the big oil companies.
    Let them pay the price now for there stupidity.
    Stop feeding the blood suckers and let build a new America.
    Let us be free of this demon humanoids.

    God bless the United State of America

    November 8, 2008 at 12:54 am |
  44. KanKan

    I'm not sure why this blog isn't getting more play, but just to add another comment:

    The automotive industry was innovated in America by an American back when the assembly line revolutionized the industry. It is just as American as baseball, and has employed and also been a spectacle. So what if Major League Baseball was in risk of bankruptcy? Should any support be given to that industry? Probably not, because what happens is that the American ppl will still play baseball, even if it is not their to watch. I think the same is of the automotive companies. Even if these ones fail, other American automotive companies will come about from the thousands of auto supplier companies that exist and depend on the not so big 3.

    November 8, 2008 at 12:55 am |
  45. Wow

    First of all i'm not an economist but when a lot of americans are having problems paying their mortgage and paying their credit cards what makes them think that americans will go and buy a new car? they're going to throw more money into these car producers but for what? so they can stay in business for a few more months and delay the reality of what might be coming to them? they wasted too many years selling monster cars that now americans are struggling to fill up with gas.... how much more can americans be squeezed and/or squeeze themselves?

    November 8, 2008 at 1:05 am |
  46. tom

    Now would be an excellent time to make a "clean break" in the auto industry and go full bore with "retooling" and research / development on alternate fuels and vehicle designs. Stock holders and the bottom line are no longer the purpose of the mission. Change business as usual - or no money for you. We need to cast off the past and move forward.

    November 8, 2008 at 1:07 am |
  47. ken elmer

    If only the Americans had the 10 billion dollars per month wasted on the ill conceived Iraq war in their national treasury what a different position we would all be encountering. Thank god the Bush era is over and you have a president that will not make such ludicrous decisions.

    November 8, 2008 at 1:10 am |
  48. cut bait

    Detroit's big three have been a disaster as long as I can remember. I don't see how throwing good money after bad makes any sense; particularly given that past government intervention has only deferred the seemingly inevitable. These companies are bloated and haven't been true leaders or innovators in decades. Let the chips fall where they may.

    November 8, 2008 at 1:11 am |
  49. reason

    This is a tough question. A complete failure of the old automotive industry could jump start a shift to new companies building greener cars, windmills and solar panels as Obama has suggested with his green jobs initiative.

    But it's a shame that all this needs to happen yesterday, just to keep America's workforce employed. More foresight a decade ago would have allowed a much smoother transition.

    November 8, 2008 at 1:19 am |
  50. Phil

    The auto industry has consistently ignored the need to provide more fuel efficient vehicles. They have spent spectacular sums of money lobbying against higher fuel economy standards and have just "paid the fines", just so they could make huge profits from consumers of behemoth gas guzzling trucks and SUVs.

    My father retired from the assembly line at Chrysler after thirty years. I bought a Dodge because of a sense of loyalty. The car developed a leaky front transmission seal and bad front pump within in the first 800 miles. When I took the car back to the dealer for repair I was treated with disrespect by the dealer and Chrysler said they could do nothing to influence the dealer's position, so I missed a morning of work while I waited for the dealer to finally get me a rental for the day.

    Would I buy a vehicle from a manufacturer that is facing bankruptcy? That question is easy to answer with a resounding NO! Recently I researched Honda and Mazda. I bought a Mazda because of the fuel economy and proven reliability of the manufacturer.

    Maybe the automakers should offer an employee purchase deal to all of their union workers in return for lower wages and the ability to keep their jobs, much like some airlines have done. I believe with a real stake in the success of the company the quality might actually improve.

    November 8, 2008 at 1:31 am |
  51. Joe Green

    With Banks now 'bailed out' isn't the idea that now struggling companies can get loans from banks? Banks replicate the money by loaning, but if people are not buying cars maybe even the banks wont loan them money? so why should the Government?

    November 8, 2008 at 1:45 am |
  52. H. B.

    I don't have true opinions on this, recognizing my lack of expertise about balancing a whole economy.

    Most Americans fail to recognize the difference between an attitude and a genuine opinion. Opinions are based on knowledge – often in-depth knowledge, from one's own researches. Those who form "opinions" without basic knowledge, actually hold only attitudes, gleaned from second-hand sources, at best. I don't make that mistake. I have neither opinions nor attitudes about the future of the auto industry, because I haven't the knowledge for an opinion, and have higher standards than to call an attitude an opinion. I wish more people would learn to do that.

    It does seem that, if the auto industry took loans in the past, but didn't use them to upgrade to "green" fuel and fuel efficient cars, as promised, perhaps any new loans should be conditioned utterly on their doing so this time – perhaps with criminal penalties for failure to do so. And possibly an official of government to sit on their board of directors with the authority to supervise precisely HOW that money will be spent, and authority to stop any inappropriate uses of it. Foundations that give large grants to NGOs often do this, so why not do it here, too?

    If it is deemed that the industry will use the money irresponsibly, it might be best to just let them go under, while beginning the training of the employees who'd be laid off WHILE they're still working there. They could be trained to fill jobs in the new energy programs that won't rely on petroleum any longer. That is already a solid plan on Obama's plate, and it might be useful to avoid the disaster of 2 1/2 million people suddenly losing their jobs when the auto industry implodes. They'd simply switch jobs.

    While facilitating the formation of new companies for green fuels, Obama could similarly facilitate, in the same locales as the auto plants are now, the construction of a new vehicle-manufacturing industry, building it from the ground up. When the auto industry implodes, it may not harm investors too much, because they will move their investments elsewhere beforehand – only those who stick it out are likely to lose their investments. It is the abandonment of the company by the investors that would trigger the implosion, wouldn't it?

    It seems that the present auto industry is locked in, hand in glove, with BIG OIL, and to the extent that that is true, is the extent to which they should be allowed to go broke. If they have seen fit not to bid adieu to the big oil companies, they deserve to collapse. It's just the employees and investors who matter after that. THEY can be seen to, at least for the most part, especially if the preparation for it is started early.

    I throw out these thoughts for consideration. The subject is extremely complex, and I don't presume to have any authority to pretend I know better than anyone else.

    No matter what we do, there will always be a need for petroleum, even if ALL our energy needs are filled elsewhere. Plastics, for example, depend utterly on petroleum; it's a major component in most plastics. By removing energy needs from petroleum, it's very likely that our own reserves of oil would then be able to be used for industries outside of energy, that need oil as ingredients for products. That demand should not exceed the supply we already have within our own borders.

    But again, I'm no expert. This is all just food for thought – and for discussion.

    As for nuclear energy, I quailed at the prospect of McCain wanting to build 50+ new nuclear power plants. That's 50 Chernobyls waiting to happen, plus they would be extremely "soft" targets for terrorists, homegrown and from abroad. I'd want Obama to find out just how close we are to fusion power, and if it isn't too much of a longshot, he should help its development to accelerate. Fusion power is cleaner than fission power, there's no danger of radiation, it's has no dangerous waste to get rid of, and it can't go into meltdowns. Moreover, we've built some already, with such abandonment of common sense that some sit, even now, right on top of very ACTIVE seismic faults. I can't trust that more would be built in a responsible way. We must avoid fission-type nuclear power, period I HAVE studied this subject, so this IS an opinion.

    November 8, 2008 at 1:51 am |
  53. Joe McFarley

    We cannot let the American auto industry fail, and here's why:

    The United States since the end of Bretton Woods has had the the world's reserve currency. What does this mean? This means that international business transations and commodities are priced in dollars. Also, foreign central banks treat dollar denominated assets as good as gold.

    This had good effects on the economy of the world: it helped stabilize the world after World War II; other countries could peg their currencies to the dollar; the US could absorb imports to encourage other countries to develop (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, are examples); and other effects.

    The hidden side-effect was that the US could effectively export inflation. We could print money or increase the money supply and foreigners would still seek dollars and dollar denominated assets. If we printed $20000 more dollars, for example, we could buy one more car from Japan. Amazing! With paper money, it seemed that we could print or borrow money (not too fast, though) and get goods in return.

    Contrast this with Japan or South Korea, where in order to acquire goods, they were and are required to seek dollars by selling goods or providing services abroad. That means, the Japanese had to produce $20000 worth of goods and services to acquire a new car from America.

    So, from a naive perspective, the US economy has looked robust for the past few decades because we measure GDP by adding up consumption, investment, government spending, exports, and subtracting out imports. Voila! Consumption and government spending have been robust because we have been borrowing money and printing money, and our economy has looked great! This is a terrible way to measure the health of an economy. We could just change, for example, consumption to production, and our economic picture of the past few decades becomes a lot less rosy.

    Any other country in the world that wanted more goods and services, could not just print or borrow money! This act of printing or borrowing just debases their currency and the country's purchasing power remains unchanged. So, in order to get stuff, other countries must to produce stuff.

    What am I driving at?

    If foreigners lose confidence in the dollar and, instead of demanding paper currency for goods and services rendered, demand real goods and services, we will not be able to provide them. This means that our purchasing power will erode, perhaps quickly, perhaps slowly. Most of our manufacturing is gone.

    We have seen our manufacturing base erode for the past few decades, and it hasn't seemed to have much of an impact on our well-being. This is true. But this is primarily true because of the standing of the dollar as the world reserve currency. It is not because our economy is 'flexible' or 'the low end work has been shifted abroad.'

    However, I would argue that some shifting of production to lower wage countries was unavoidable, and even perhaps desirable, but simply gutting our automobile, electronics, machinery, etc industries and buying those products from other first world countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, or Germany for example is not a road to wealth.

    If the world loses confidence in the dollar, and we need to produce our way back to prosperity, it will take decades to bring our manufacturing industries back. And one of the last stalwarts of our manufacturing base is the automobile industry. If this goes down, we won't have much left. I would definitely argue that banks are far less important to our recovery than first tier manufacturing, especially if there is a dollar collapse.

    It may seem that we are throwing good money after bad, but we need our manufacturing to keep our money 'good.' In other words, we need our currency and economy to be backed by manufacturing, not just non-producing financial and insurance institutions.

    Save the auto industry.

    November 8, 2008 at 1:58 am |
  54. peter

    A wise use of tax payer money is to invest the bailout money to create a new auto-companies who are led by more competent leaders and workers. Waste must be eliminated and innovation must be constantly flowed in to create good value products that can compete on the market. It seems the current auto-industry can't reinvent themselves for many reasons. So, the money we put in will, at best, help them to get over this difficult period; then when it is over, everything will go back to the way they were.

    The new auto-industry must be well-aligned with new alternative energy agenda so we can be energy-independent the sooner the better. Being energy independent will save us zillion of dollars, this alone will help us to regain the investment and reduce the trade deficit. This is the only way to avoid bankrupting America on future generations. We can't just keep running our economy based on borrow money.

    As a side benefit of saving on import oil, our money will not be used against us or strengthen blood-thirty dictators around the world, giving hope for democracy to grow.

    November 8, 2008 at 2:13 am |
  55. Ed

    The big three have not learned the lessions of the late 80s when the Japanese companies were eating there lunch. Now here we are again. I travel to Japan many times and can`t believe how much more advance the auto industry is in Japan. I think they can give us the final blow and take the US auto industry out if they really wanted to.

    Hey where is my bailout. I am punished for not spending money I do not have and paying my bills and saving.

    What is wrong with that picture.

    You can`t pay your bills because you wanted to live like those MTV guys. Well its time to face the music.

    You signed for it, now you have to pay for it.

    November 8, 2008 at 2:22 am |
  56. Ted Stodolka

    Maggie – I couldn't agree with you more. I spent last night writing to Nancie Pelosi addressing this very topic. We can not use public money to save 1) The UAW retirement plan and 2) The entire industry. To your point, should we decide to do this (we meaning the public via our elected officials) why this industry, why now? What about other industries. And more importantly, why do company leaders and share holders get to share in the profits when times are good and the public needs to pick up the left overs when things are bad. I don't argue about the banking industry – there isn't an option. However, with other industries, there are options.

    Why does a UAW worker receive assurance from the government that they'll continue to receive their BLOATED retirement packages (an obscene promise employers should have never made) simply because they're a UAW worker. What about other people who've invested on their own behalf in their retirement and lost large sums of money (such as myself) where's my assurance?

    The approach is simple. Either the government is in the business of designing, managing, and handing out retirement programs – cash and benefits (I'm not talking about social security which simple keeps people from starving to death in the streets) or it isn't in this business. Either the approach is a solution for all taxpayers or none – not a select few. Especially this industry and the recent issues with the coal mining industry. These retirement programs leave employees with huge incomes for retirement and gold plated health programs.

    Put another way, as someone in their 30s, this is just another example of a generation that takes and takes. People of this age group obviously don't see it this way – I do. I'm paying, and have been paying, into a system since I was 16 years old. This system, social security and state taxes for health care for the elderly and disabled, which simply won't be there when I retire. So, I pay twice, I pay for them through taxes and I pay for myself by putting a sizable chunk of my income away to ensure I'l taken care of when I am older. Which has recent shrunk dramatically – again, no assurance for me.

    No one has made me any promises. Those that did have promises, while unfortunate, will need to accept the fact that those promises need to be revisited.

    We can not, we will not, we can not afford to help these workers. It is difficult, it is very sad. It is reality.

    November 8, 2008 at 2:28 am |
  57. Paul McGann

    My gosh, these are American institutions that have, in the past, been the hallmark of American ingenuity. As said, they employ millions and there are thousands of other jobs that depend on this industry. And there are millions more who are supported by or retired by this industry. The financial industry took unnecessary risks that caused it's collapse; the auto industry has been affected by a bad economy. We MUST not let this industry die. The Japanese and Europeans certainly would not let it happen to their respective industries; we need to do the RIGHT thing...

    November 8, 2008 at 2:32 am |
  58. Jude11

    If I have to bail out my own failing business, why should these mega-companies have a free ride? Take my taxes, take food off the tables of millions and then raise the price of their services and products. Enough is enough.

    November 8, 2008 at 2:34 am |
  59. Bhavesh Patel, CT

    Bail out to Auto makers? Who is responsible for their present turmoil?
    The Big Three themselves. Doing Business since last more than 100 years. But they have never ever once tried to see the world with open eyes that to the world to which they have taught, how to manufacture a car. The same people are desperately trying to survive themselves by ignoring the facts. The fact is that they totally ignored the consumption of fossil fuel and have been churning out the third rate quality vehicles with gas guzzlers engines which have deeply penetrated the ozone layer. If some twenty years back, if they could have given thought for the fuel-efficient vehicles along with the development of alternate fuel technology. They could have been better fate then what they are at present. We Americans are so self centered that unless the stream of water starts flowing under our feet, we just do not understand the importance of blocking the water flow which sweeps us away. Hopefully, now Big three should start taking an serious initiatives to compete and withstand the onslaught by drastically improving the quality of the cars and strong R & D with some better energy alternative than fossil fuel.

    November 8, 2008 at 9:04 am |
  60. Uma in Liverpool, UK

    Not fair to help some but not others.
    Not possible to help everyone.
    Need to help those which, if they collapse, will take down the largest number of other businesses and workers with them.
    Auto industry falls into that category.

    Triage is brutal.
    No one wants to do it.
    Means saying 'NO' to industries that deserve help.

    Triage not fair.
    Alternative is tell everyone 'NO' and watch economy fall into Depression, instantly.

    Battlefield-medicine: save those who can save the most others.

    Horrible situation.

    (sorry telegraphese. hideous migraine. hurts trying to think.)

    November 8, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  61. Steve B

    The auto industry faced this exact situation 30 years ago – manufacturing out-of-date poorly built cars that were displaced by japanese imports. Here they are again. A generation of mismanagement and waste is now to be thrown at the feet of the US taxpayer for a bailout? Totally wrong. Immoral. Where the government be to bailout other industries? This is blackmail by the Big 3 - blackmail – "Bail us out or we dump thousands of unemployed in your laps anyway. Pay now or pay later."

    November 8, 2008 at 9:38 pm |
  62. Penny Prater

    I work at one of the big three automakers. I find it extremely hard to believe that the people of the united states are so against saving the usa made automakers. When it is their fault that the big three automakers are in this position.. Americans want the new president to help with all the foreign exchange and trade that is going on and keep the money and jobs in the USA but he can’t do it on his own. Americans are the ones buying the foreign products, honda, toyota, kia, and etc. How about supporting your own instead of the foreign products. Do they not understand that they are part of the problem? And when we lose our jobs it will be to foreign automakers in turn will put many other americans out of jobs. As you all stated on the news this evening, if one of the big three goes out, it will effect over 2 million americans. I think americans should take a good look that it is not all the governments fault of where we are at today. Americans say well the toyota plant is in the USA, well guess what that profit goes back to Japan, it doesn’t stay in America. How about going to buy an american made vehicle instead of buying that foreign vehicle. Let,s go with Obamas saying ” We need CHANGE”. Americans need to help the government in this foreign endeavor.

    November 8, 2008 at 11:54 pm |
  63. d. griffith

    Lawmakers deciding who survive or fail depends on their future plans. For instance, if the auto industry is to fail, we are going to need good planning and jobs for transport: more public buses, passenger trains, bicycle trails and more sidewalks.

    November 9, 2008 at 12:52 am |
  64. Dell

    Ford has signed on to build Chinese autos in Mexico to import to the US. This is not an overnight decision as we are lead to believe. Many Americans do not have reserves to carry them through the next 12 months as Ford has stated is does have. What is the big problem?

    If Ford brings those jobs back to the US, fine. As it is NO! I am tired of my taxes supporting foreign jobs and growth to foreign nations "who don't like us very much."

    Palosi and Reid are ready and willing for the auto bail out . To think we elected a liberal in this time of crisis. Vote all senators and Congressmen out when they come up for re-election. Then and only then will CHANGE come to the people for the people. Better check out how your elected officials are and have vote on your behalf, not just vote for a president. You will be surprised!

    November 9, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  65. Alamo

    Letting them fail will bring a faster rebuilding of the industry in the US if it is an industry that a group of investors are interested in. Letting the pain linger, makes the slide to economic failure more painful. In any event, it appears that the likelihood of recovery of any loan or capital infusion is low. The government's resources can be better spent.

    November 9, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  66. Steve

    Another bailout for the "shrinking 3" is not the answer.
    I am 48 years old, a proud American, but have never owned an American car. Sad to say that, but I have been a student of the automobile since before the age I could drive and my hard earned dollars have been unable to find quality, reliability,fuel efficiency and "fun to drive" in an Detroit vehicle. I am not alone. my entire family, including my wife's family have ALL bought non Detroit cars. **That's 12 cars in one family**
    If someone gave me 25,000 and said go buy an American car within the next hour..............I would not even know what to consider.
    If Detroit can build a car that would have reliability, quality, fuel efficiency and not just cute advertisements people like me would solve Detroit's problems by spending our hard earned dollars on American cars.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:21 am |
  67. Kathy Norris

    We should NOT bail out the automobile companies. They should, like the rest of us, adapt to the needs of the consumers. Maybe this will finally force them to seek alternatives.I must also add that they must eliminate the bonuses that the top management awards themselves each year. In the real world only the productive are rewarded and not at the expense of all others.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:53 am |
  68. al

    I am a canadian and dont understand why the american people are not supporting the big 3. All the profits from the japanese and european car manufactures go back to Japan and Europe. When I visit the USA several times a year I see all the houses with the American flag and I think how patriotic and then I look to see what kind of autos the American public are driving I see a lot of Japanese and European cars. I am a Canadian and probably not as patriotic but I own 3 GM autos. Wake up America!

    November 10, 2008 at 4:44 am |
  69. Rich

    How much of the auto industies profits are used up in law suits?
    How much of the share holder profits have been eaten by Hedge fund managment?

    How are they going to make a fuel efficient car when everyone in america wants a luxury car with lots of power?

    Why is the most fuel efficient car a three wheel car?

    What role does the EPA and Safety regulations have in the problem?

    Why should the rest of the country have to pay for someones retirement just because their failing company promised it to them?

    Why can't an American car company make a car as good as a Toyota? Are they dumb or lazy or what?

    November 10, 2008 at 6:44 am |
  70. Rod

    The country's auto makers are just as vital to our economy, as Boeing and Lockheed/Martin or GE. It is very likely that millions of jobs would be lost if this industry fails. My first instinct is to bail them out, but since so much of our "American made" vehicles contain parts that are made in other countries, our "American made" vehicles are really "World made" vehicles. Why not standing up industries that support "made in America" vehicles, so that the parts and assembly are truely American made? The tenticles of this industry encompass the earth, so letting them fail, once again, impacts the world economy. With outsourcing to the world, we get the bad, with the good and now we are getting the real bad. Want more free trade and shipping jobs over seas? All that is, is bad business and the easy way out. CEOs need to step up to the plate with ideas that benefit America and not just their manic egos. How smart is it to damage the country that enabled CEOs to make tons of cash? They need quit wasting time knocking the high cost of doing business in America and come up with ideas that make it possible to provide American jobs and strengthen our country, without running to Uncle Sam, like you're the only game in town. All their politics aren't going to fix the problem long term. This country voted for change, cause "you can't fix stupid." Maybe it's time for the big three to make a change, cause you can't fix stupid CEOs. Generosity is one of this country's greatest virtues, but right now, our generosity meter is pegged. If we're going to bail them out, then make an agreement that the CEOs that were behind the wheel, get out of the car, so a sober smarter driver can take the wheel.

    November 10, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  71. Penny Prater

    I would like to comment on all the people talking about the big threes retirement. There retirement is no different than any other company. Actually UPS and a few others have a better retirement. When our social security kicks in our retirement is cut. Many companies you retire, you get to keep your retirement and get social security. So in turn our retirement has nothing to do with your taxes and weither or not the government should help the big three. Yes the big three need some changes but they don't deserve to go under and the foreign countries take over the american ways. Some people focus on the american auto industry of how bad it was in the 70's and 80's but they have changed, just like other things have changed. Thank you Al, you said it.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm |
  72. Michael

    First the banks and insurance companies. Now the auto makers. Let's keep rewarding Businesses for making bad business decisions. So if you are big enough, you can run a sloppy business and wait for the American people to bail you out. If Americans won't buy the big gas guzzlers, we get to pay for them anyhow.

    November 10, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  73. Bob

    GM should go to Exxon for a bailout.

    November 10, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  74. BC TY

    GM has growth too fat, too old, too complacent and losing the stamina to be in the race.
    Throwing more money will not solve its problem. It will just be a huge waste. Why not pity the overburdened taxpayers.
    The best way is for GM to take the natural and normal way of business cycle. If it has to go bankrupt, let it go. Then probably, somebody will buy those assets, start a new company. The new company will be leaner, agressive, cost effective. motivated and will definitely be healthier.
    In the short term, this approach might be too brutal, too harsh. But long term, it will be good for most people. As it is now, even if you infuse so much money, one it burns out the bailout, you will be back to square one- the bankruptcy alternative. So why prolong the agony.
    Start a new life.

    November 10, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  75. Michael

    If it comes to pass that the Government will bail-out the auto industry, I would appreciate the opportunity to opt-out, that is to say, receive a tax rebate equivalent to my share of the tax money paid to auto makers for failing to become competitive in the global market, provided that I am obligated to purchase a vehicle from one of these auto makers. Though I wouldn't necessarily buy one otherwise, I would rather get something for my money.

    November 10, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  76. AK

    Lets be clear folks. The North American Auto industry is not in trouble but in the midst of a slowdown consistent with the broader economy. Last time I looked Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen and a host of others manufacture autos here and provide jobs to thousands of "working families" that are not represented by the UAW/CAW. GM, Ford and Chrysler are in the position they are in not because they didn't see the writing on the wall but because their hands were tied by generous union contracts that made it too expensive to address the issues (quality, over capacity, labour flexibility) they faced until it was too late. Another bail out will not fix this.

    November 10, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  77. ed bishop

    With all of the discussion of a bailout for the auto industry, my question is "what concessions have or are the UAW willing to contribute"

    November 10, 2008 at 8:47 pm |
  78. Uma in Liverpool, UK

    One of the biggest problems in the USA, today, is that the manufacturing sector has either been 'outsourced', or was simply supplanted by better products from abroad.

    The largest manufacturing sector remaining in the USA is the automotive industry.

    I believe it should be salvaged, but not in such a way that it can carry on doing everything wrong as it has done, in the past.

    Those people who blame 'greedy' union-labour obviously think Management deserve their obscene salaries and bonuses... for heaven's sake! Unionise everything so the workers have some fail-safes, make decent wages, and have the right to collective bargaining, if it becomes necessary. Yes, I believe in labour-unions, and yes, I remember when you couldn't tell the Teamsters from the Mafia, in the '70s. I think unions are necessary, and are not the problem.

    The problem is top-down greed, and short-sighted mismanagement. That has destroyed the industry, not the skilled labourers!

    I say yes, the auto-industry should be salvaged - not 'bailed out' in its current form. All the top management should be let go - no bonuses, no severance, no nothing, bye bye. Maybe middle-management should go, too - they can be given a choice: accept a lower salary, and prepare to relearn the automotive industry, from the Japanese, the Germans, the French, and from green engineers (ideally promoted from within the ranks of skilled automotive engineers), who are going to be your bosses (you being the bean-counters, and paper-pushers, of whom no well-functioning industry needs very many).
    No CEO, CFO, marketer, etc is to receive a salary higher than the highest-payed skilled labourers (this is straight from the Japanese Air Lines play-book).
    The 'green-engineers' have a big task ahead - retooling not only the factories, but the entire US automotive industry - from the assembly-line floors to the operations buildings, to have as low a carbon-footprint as possible. Detroit can use both wind and hydro-electric power, and should do.
    Set goals high, for fuel-efficiency, and meet them!! What happened to good, old-fashioned, American ingenuity?

    I would be inclined to have the government salvage the automotive industry, and then let workers earn ownership in a co-operative sort of scheme. History has shown that owner-workers do a hell of a lot better work, because it is theirs, and there is pride attached to the product. Co-operative ownership would dispense with the need for union-labour.

    There must be a way to make a clean, electric car, without ten or twelve of those toxic batteries! Maybe it's time to re-visit the battery?

    I believe the USA should, and can recapture a significant part of the automotive, and durable-goods manufacturing, which used to be so much a part of the American way of life. It takes pulling the head off the doll, and replacing it, with a different head. In this case, not a European head, not a Japanese head, but a completely new-thinking, American Automotive head. As long as the health of the planet is the FIRST priority, and being cleaner, more efficient, safer, and better than the imports is the OTHER priority, the workers will have plenty of work!!

    Apply similar models to the manufacture of heavy farm equipment, long-haul lorries, and city busses, and you have more work than the industry - as it is today - can sustain. Yes, there will be Edsels. It happens with innovation. The price of marketing can be cut right down, once word gets out that there's a solid vehicle, made in Detroit, which meets thus and such specs...

    Nobody needs an 8-cylinder vehicle! All right, fire-engines. If the topmost speed-limit is 85mph, don't build the vehicles to do more than 95, on a steep downhill grade! (Law enforcement vehicles, emergency rescue vehicles etc, excepted, obviously). Guess what, lives will be saved, by vehicles that just do not go 160 mph! Teenage boys who have a need for speed can join the Air Force, or play video games. The idea of driving that much faster than one can see, on four inflated balloons, is - if you stop to think about it - meshuggah!

    I have faith in American workers, I remember when the American car was the car. Not for outrageous luxury.... though even that is possible, without making the vehicle big enough so two large Bangladeshi families, who are not on speaking terms, could live comfortably in the boot!

    Luxury amenities are not going to make a car less green. Leather seats, wooden dashboards, doors that open upwards, moon-roofs, silly custom wheels... there's no end to variation in styles, so long as the benchmark for competition is 'how far will it go on one'?, and 'how low can we make the carbon footprint of building the machine'?

    C'mon, where's that competetive, American spirit?

    I don't trust management as far as I could fling them. I have never not believed in American workers. That's why I've always been pro-union. Management will exploit workers every time. It is a habit which needs to be broken for them!

    Nothing would make me happier than to see Mo-town come back!

    A once and future US resident

    November 10, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  79. Uma in Liverpool, UK

    @ HB

    AMEN to every word you said. I don't have specific knowledge of the auto-industry, but I do understand the sociology of labour, and used to be able to assemble a Jeep, in the field (I was a field-medic, in another life). It's amazing what one picks up, in the service...
    I also have a master's degree in social justice, including re-employment, and post-disaster scenarii.

    Like you, I lose patience with completely uninformed opinions, or, as you said, 'attitudes'. The Earth has gone around the Sun a fair few times, since I was born, and I never stopped paying attention.

    I fancy myself intelligent, and good at constructing socio-cultural scenarii - at least in theory.

    But I know what you mean, and I thank you for saying it.

    November 10, 2008 at 10:07 pm |
  80. Japan

    GM needs to be bailed out then downsized. They also need to team up with car makers in Japan (toyota, honda or whatnot) and form one group of company. Toyota, long time ago, was in red so bad that it needed help from American automakers. GM needs to learn from their mistakes and mimic what Toyota did in the past.

    Japan pretty much listen to what US says (I know it because I live here), so there is no other better partner than Japan for US. Japanese also are more trustworthy to US because of the long history between the 2 countries. Forget China, forget Mexico.

    GM + Japanese carmakers > any automakers in the world, arguably.

    November 11, 2008 at 5:29 am |
  81. Ken

    If this proposed bailout works like it has in the past, we will be able to expect that an American automobile company (such as Chrysler) will receive federal bailout assistance. Then it will merge with a foreign auto maker. Then the new merged auto maker will close American plants and lay off American workers, without ever having to repay the loans from various state and federal agencies. No thanks–just like the state of Illinois (Obamas home state) has sold off the Illinois Tollway to a consortium of Asians & Europeans, with the expectation that the tollways will be run better, lets just sell GM andFord to a consortium of Asians and Europeans. They will not be beholden to old bribers and willl certainly be more likely to produce a more effecient automobile. Adios Big Three behemoths.

    November 11, 2008 at 6:23 am |

    It is not necessary that America should manufacture its own cars, particularly when the economics dictates it is inefficient and unviable. Any bailout will only postpone the problem by 1-2 years.Instead the Federal Funds could be gainfully used for improving public transport and infrastructure. Besides the Banks, credit card issuers, insurance companies,airlines, automobile companies,healthcare institutions and construction businesses, there are a couple of state governments waiting to be rescued. With trillions of dollars in deficits the US Government risks a serious fall-out if it loses the confidence of the sovereign investors. It is fighting a complex battle and needs all its bullets to survive the next 12 months.

    November 11, 2008 at 11:04 am |
  83. JanB

    It's too late to save the dinosaurs, and at fault are the Bush republicans who still think there's plenty of oil, and climate change doesn't exist. If they had told the big three that 20 mpg would not be acceptable in the future, this whole SUV craze could have been avoided, and Detroit would be a lot better off.

    November 11, 2008 at 12:01 pm |
  84. Jaime Remedios

    we can not bailout the entire country or the world. But we should bailout key industries The car industry is one of them. But the bailout shoud be for change and innovation. If we are going to loose money than we should re-tool these industries and come out later renwed and stronger. It's time for GM and other to think electric and hybrid.

    For what it is worth!

    November 11, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  85. Stephan Jaeckel

    Looking at it from Germany I may get it wrong but 8 years ago American Auto Workers could have voted for Al Gore as president. But like their managers they found it easier to vote for and donate to George W. Bush, making fun of Gore as an Eco-Freak and telling everybody that building fuel-efficient engines would be the end of GM, Ford and Chrysler.

    Now 8 years later they in fact are facing their end! However it is because they can not offer the US consumers the fuel-efficient cars Gore wanted to get into the streets. They could not even do so if they wanted to, because they refused to try and to learn it for decades now falling technologically behind their Japanese and European counterparts. Even German car maufacturers who sadly try to follow the lobbying-role-model of their US counterparts in fighting Eco-standars are better off on Eco-terms.

    While I understand that Americans are fearing for their jobs, I think no one should bail out and industry that got what it wanted while there were warning-lights and sounds all around and that now does not want to live with the results of what it wanted.

    There is no one reason to think that managements and engineers at GM, Ford and Chrysler can get done now what they fought against doing – even in the face of weakening marketshares for 20 years. So a bail out would change nothing.

    However if there should be a bailout for the US carmakers then make Al Gore responsible for allocating the money and controlling GM, Ford and Chrysler. Looks like he knew what was coming much better than the multi-million-dollar managers in Detroit did.

    November 11, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  86. Joanne

    The US auto industry will not be "saved" as a result of a bailout of taxpayer money. The fundamental problems within the industry will not be solved by the taxpayers underwriting their failed business model. The US auto industry has spent the era of cheap energy within the US by creating even bigger, far less fuel efficient vehicles than existed before the era of cheap energy within the US while the Japanese and European manufacturers created vehicles which are more fuel efficient or more advanced hybrid vehicles, which are now in great demand in contrast to the Chevrolet Suburban and now GM wants the taxpayers to bail them out! At what point should the US taxpayer stop rewarding corporate stupidity, perhaps now.

    November 11, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  87. AJ Anderson

    My friends and co-workers have been debating why the Bail-out strategy did not simply put 1 million dollars in the hands of every U.S. tax paying american, then let people do what comes bills and spend. This seems alot cheaper than the 700 BILL and the 130 BIlL and the TRILL. solution. Tell me why this cannot be done?

    November 11, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  88. Bill

    After the "bailout " will the auto industry continue to build cars nobody wants?

    Give the auto industry money to convert some its manufacturing capacity to build energy saving products....and not just cars...wind turbines,batteries,refinery equipment, locomotives, roadbuilding equipment.

    November 12, 2008 at 3:42 am |
  89. chad

    The government should not write GM a check to bail them out. They still need people to buy cars. Instead, the government should give the american people a tax credit or rebate if you buy a GM vehicle. Everyone wins. The banks write the loans, GM sells vehicles and makes money, local governments get the sales and property tax, more demand for oil and last but not least the american people can drive a brand new american made vehicle.

    November 12, 2008 at 9:29 am |
  90. Ed

    General Motors shareholders are going on about consumers; Jeff Embersits, chief investment officer at Shareholder Value Management and an owner of GM stock, said there's only one thing that can save the company: "The consumer needs to come out of the toilet and somebody needs to start buying cars." When I did buy GM vehicle in fact two of them, the service was so poor I swore off of GM products. Start reading those customer surveys you put out GM. Oh well, see ya in the toilet GM it serves you right for not caring about customers. VIVA TOYOTA!!!!

    November 12, 2008 at 9:39 am |
  91. Norbert

    Bailout! Why? For really bad management? For incompetence and greed? This is America. Get a new start with a new management, new ideas, new perspectives and the prospect of new employment for the old employees. That would be the real way to go!

    November 12, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  92. Karim Bousfiha

    Today in the President's agenda, among many others, we have the following issues:

    - Create Jobs
    - Reduce carbon emissions
    - Reduce dependency on foreign oil
    - Infrastructure

    A classical absent in most presidential & political agendas in the USA is "Public Transportation". I know and I am sure you know and definitively they(the politicians and presidents) know that urban & suburban public transportation comes with a long list of negative and cons against it, I am going to list a few just as a reminder and as a way to not be flagged as being ignorant of the US life style. We live in horizontal cities (low # of habitant-taxpayers by square mille) unlike the Europeans who live in vertical cities (high # of habitants-taxpayers by square miles), a very important element of the American dream is your very own car, 1 per citizen above age 16. The car industry, long time ago a National pride (ok, long, long time ago) goes into seizures just by the mention of "public transportation". I could go on and on, but my purpose is to turn this reading into a positive reflexion, so lets take a look at the positive side of developing a public transportation network for mid and big cities.

    • Lower carbon monoxide emissions
    • Reduce the country's dependency on foreign oil
    • Reduce the citizen's dependency on cars & fuel.
    • Boost infrastructure therefore jobs, perhaps maybe a way to recycle the Auto-industry lost jobs.
    • Reduce the amount of wasted hours in traffic therefore boost productivity and quality of life as well as family life.
    • Reduce traffic accidents, injuries and deaths and all the associated costs (insurance, prosecutions etc. etc.) especially among youth and seniors giving to both groups more freedom to move without risking their life and other’s life.
    • Gives an opportunity to the least favored, the poor, to escape the downward spiral by being able to get a job and get to it without the need of a car.

    I no longer buy the eternal weak and negative arguments against public transportation.

    - “Public transportation ends up being subsidized therefore paid by taxpayers” ::: Well at least for once it will feel good to pay for something good for the country and its citizens

    - It will hurt the car industry, Detroit. Detroit is already in the UCI, jobs will be lost anyway, they dug their own grave long time ago by ignoring the consumers needs and wishes, by not focusing on quality and by not being able to produce exportable cars. And speaking of subsidies look at what is going on right now with the “big” 3.

    - “People won’t use it. They want their own car” Well when the gas prices passed the $4.00 mark it was not longer a matter of preference but almost a matter of survival. With a good public transportation system, people will end up commuting or going to work by bus or metro because of the convenience (low-cost, low-stress and low-time) and using their car the rest of the time.

    - People don’t want it. It may be true. But we need it and sometimes needs comes as more important than what we want.

    November 12, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  93. Chris

    The US automobile manufactures are in the position because there has not been any motiviation among manufacturers, consumers, or politicians to produce more fuel efficient cars. So when the price of oil soared, Americans did not want to buy gas guzzling American SUVs. Foreign manufactures that have led the way in producing hybrids and vehicles with higher fuel efficiency are in a very strong market position. This is a clear cut case that energy efficient products not only make sense for the environment but also for the economy. If any money is going to help manufactures, it should only be to help them produce greener automobiles.

    November 12, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  94. Peter G.

    I agree that GM should get the multi-billion buck bailout...
    ...along with a few copies of 'Smart Car Design for Dummies'

    If you want people to buy your product, then for goodness sake make a product people WANT TO BUY!!
    In my travels, I've driven enough GM made autorentals to convince me that their cars look and feel really, really cheap! ...and I really wonder if folks up in Detroit get that?

    If GM survives this, I certainly hope they seriously reevaluate their design approach. ...enough already with the oval plastic bits!

    Actually... I'm doing my bit part to keep the economy afloat by buying, in the next month or so, a Ford F-150 truck . Why? ...because I think they look great!

    At least some up in Detroit get it... Design is everything!

    November 12, 2008 at 3:16 pm |






    November 12, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  96. AK

    If the employees of GM, Ford and Chrysler feel as strongly about their brands and the quality they produce, then they as part of any govt support, should be required to purchase shares in the new company on an ongoing basis until such time as the companies are back on their feet. This will help in raising captial and take some of the burden off of the taxpayers.

    Instead of salary increases going forward, they should be rewarded by being able to purchase more shares. Nothing improves the quality and productivity of a company than when its employees become owners.

    November 12, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  97. R. Jennings

    I feel that for the past 3 decades the auto makers have had every reason to change with the times, but have refused to do so. Now they want my tax dollars to bail them out, I was againest the bank bailout and againest the auto bailout. Our goverenment has to be responsible in making their decisions, If they help one set of companies then they must help all companies both large and small. Maybe now that we elected a president for change we need to elect a congress for change. I own a small business and I know if I get in over my head I will not get help from uncle Sam. I knew that going in and so did the automakers, so did the banks, so did the loan companies that made the bad housing loans. In a free market you are the one responsible for your business so stand up and take your licks.

    November 12, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  98. Jan Mesolora

    I don't feel we should bail out the auto industry. They are not competitive and are not building fuel efficient cars – they have been in denial about what sort of cars they should build for decades. I feel it will only be putting good money after bad. Living in Europe, having solar energy and wind turbines working for us, I think the US should go for alternatives to petroleum products, open factories to build wind turbines and solar panels, and leave the auto production to those who make more fuel efficient cars at better prices. I feel the labor unions have priced themselves out of jobs, not the economy.

    November 12, 2008 at 8:05 pm |
  99. bichara

    GM executives are unqualified to run the show . In 1972 it was predicted that GM will go out of business. This prediction was made upon evualuating top executives performance. Any help given will be waste of money.

    November 12, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  100. damian

    Why should we use tax payer dollors to bail out the struggling auto industry? When the top executives care about their companies, the future of their current postions and their employees they should take action among themsleves and take a pay cut or give back part of their multi-milloon dollar salaries to help bring the companies move forward. Instead they wil continue to live the luxary lifestyle they are use too and depend on the working class to continue to finance it.

    November 13, 2008 at 5:52 am |
  101. Gbenga

    I think the auto industry has had enough oppurtunity over the years to think up strategies that would impact positively on there longtime survival.Allocating money into this industry might be lifesaver on short time,especially in terms of saving jobs, but definately would not amount to much good on long term basis.

    November 13, 2008 at 9:38 am |
  102. Eduardo

    The situation is dire and we must all now pull together and swallow hard. The uS can't afford to add this to this mess by allowing the auto industry to go under. However, I do agree with the concept of a Car Czar and mandating reform in Detroit in exchange for the help. For instance, GM should no longer have 6 or 7 different car divisions. That's ridiculous and it might have made sense 30 years ago when it had 35% of the market, but not with the 12% it has today. Who the hell buys a Buick or a Pontiac these days? How different is a GMC truck than a souped-up Chevrolet? all these different divisions have their own overhead and management infrastucture, AND IT MAKES NO SENSE. GM must downsize dramatically, streamline its product line (e.g., Chevrolet and Cadillac only), and redirect resources for R&D.

    Same with Ford. Kill Mercury. What's this about having totally different car lineups in Europe and in the US? worse yet, Americans love the styling on Ford's European models, but shun designs for the US market. Show anyone a 2008 Ford Mondeo and you'll see. Let's not kid ourselves: GM's different lineups in Europe, Asia and the US have less to do with customer tastes and preferences and more to do with keeping management fiefdoms to justify their existence.

    How else do you explain that carmakers like BMW, Mercedes Benz, Honda and others sell basically the same models around the world and they're liked and desired everywhere???? even Toyota sells the Corolla in 240 countries successfully. Why can't GM sell its "comparable" Malibu the same? because of SHODDY QUALITY, that's why. Those of us outside the US wouldn't even THINK of buying the Chevy Caprices, Malibus or Ford Granadas our parents drove. American car quality is an advertising-induced LIE. Detroit cars and (largely) still unreliable and of poor built quality, I don't care what JD Power says. TO me, JD Power is as reliable as Standard and Poor's or Moody's ratings. I can say that in my country, American-made automobiles have almost dissapeared from roads just in the last 20 years.

    The day of reckoning is here for US carmakers. Spare us the "quality ity is Job 1" and "JD Power" crap and get on to building good cars that people want. Detroit has long resisted change. It's time it is FORCED to change, or DIE.

    November 13, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  103. Eric Johnson City,TN

    I bought a chevy silverado in 2007. I was going to trade it in on a HHR and I found out that in one year my vehicle had lost $11,000 in value over half of what I paid for it. With that kind of depreciation, why in the world would I want another one? Foreign cars hold there market value well, and have better service, verses american arrogance and poor service and drastic depreciation. Which would you choose? Oh, and by the way I am still stuck with my truck til I get it paid for. Never again!!

    November 13, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  104. Bob E.

    There should be no bailouts period! Not to banks and surely not to industry. If the government wants to do something ,put a tarif on imports,protect american jobs.Break the unions up so the U.S. automakers can cut costs, but also limit CEO pay to less than 400K. Why should a CEO make more than the president of the U.S. Corporate Greed is killing America,let the fat cat investors that have been making the money in good times take a hit.

    November 13, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  105. Eric Vates

    First let me thank you for taking the time to read this email. My name is Eric Vates and I have been employed in the retail automotive business for over 18yrs. Through the past 60 days we have heard nothing but the imminent demise of our industry. I believe there is a relatively easy solution to this problem. The Auto industry is based on the ability to retail vehicles, if you can not sell cars companies can not build them, workers can not assemble them and banks can not finance them. With this truth in mind I believe if we attempt to spurn the retail end of the business it will jump start the industry. ( more vehicles sold will increase demand which increase orders to the factories and suppliers increase business to the banks via auto loans etc etc ) Just as eating a diet high in fiber will reduce your risk of heart attack, eating a bowl of Cheerios during a heart attack will not stop it, as will giving Auto manufactures money for future development will not help our current crisis. The idea is rather simple… incentivize consumers to purchase US manufactured vehicles now. Here is how I think we could tackle this daunting task:

    Vates Plan

    Issue a tax rebate up to half of a consumer’s sales tax on their federal return.

    Every new car sold in the US generates huge amounts of sales tax for local municipalities and states. What ever total tax amount that a consumer has paid allow him/her to deduct up to half of that amount off their Federal Income tax ( Tax credit ) . Sales taxes on autos use to be tax deductable. Also bear in mind the millions of dollars in local sales tax that would be collected during this drive to help offset local municipal budgets.

    Offer rebates over and above current incentives backed by the Government bailout for Domestic produced automobiles.

    Almost all manufactures have some form of rebates to lure consumers into showrooms to purchase their products. On top of those rebates offer a one time $1500 to $2000 rebate that will be taken out of the bailout money that is set aside for the automotive industry. If we have $25 Billon set up in loans for Ford Gm Chrysler etc, lets use that as incentives for customers to purchase products instead of research and development on projects that will not be on the road for years if ever. The rebate will help consumers purchase cars at reduced prices ( like the coupons for digital converter boxes ) and will be repaid to the Government from the manufactures as part of their bailout money therefore not affecting their cash flow and allowing public perception to be positive ( we are helping you the consumer not the large auto manufacturer get out from bad practices ) Also only domestically produced vehicles qualify. If the are built in the US by American workers then they qualify. This bill is to keep American workers working not those in other countries, so vehicles produced in Mexico, Canada, Germany, Korea, Japan etc are excluded Even if they are badged with a domestic brand.

    Have a Government insured loan program for Automobile loans.

    Since the US government has backed up a large portion of our banks, we should force them to lend to credit worthy consumers for auto loans. In the same vain of thought as FHA , HUD or VA loans the government could use some of the $700 Billon dollars set aside for banks to lend to consumers who right now want or need a car loan. The loans could be backed by an insurance policy ( like PMI ) that would deflect the risk of bad loans or future losses ( AIG another government subsidiary could under write ) . With the full force of the government backing auto loans would once again become easier to get and help business prosper again. This part of the plan would also be a large source of income for other parts of the economy. Banks would receive new loans ( secured by the government funding once again not hurting their cash flow ) insurance companies ( AIG ) would underwrite policies for the security of the loans and new jobs in oversight would be created.

    The plan is simply and really elementary if you sit back and think about it. If consumers feel good about a deal they will buy. Give them a reason to feel good and they will come. When retail in the auto industry picks back up then so will the other 10 jobs for every one person in our industry. The beauty of the plan is that it calls for no new funds just allocating the funds already set aside to good use.

    November 13, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  106. Pamela Szybka

    Everyone is not looking at the Big Picture here. For every 1 auto job, which is about 3 million nation wide, 7 other jobs are effected. That's Approximately 30-35% for this country's work force and it will go down hill fast like a snowball. An example of this is an ad agency here in Detroit just let go of 118 people on Monday because GM canceled their advisement account with them. My brother and neighbor, one makes screws, nuts and bolts the other a welder have both receiced notice that at the end of the year, they will have no jobs and they work for small companies. Not only these companies but Stores like Walmart and Target will start laying off because no one will be buying anything other than food or household basics. This will be worst than the Great Depression! Unlike the banks who have others to buy them or pick up the slack, as with J.P.Morgan buying Wama, the Big 3 don't. Everyone got us here! You, me and the companies. People wanted big cars and trucks, so they were made. There are more V6 and V8 engines than not. People over extented them selves buying more than they could afford. Companies got greedy. Comediian Alan King once said " if GM is doing good, so is the country. Well GM isn't doing too good" Now it's bad, really bad and we need to stop the snowball before it starts down hill.

    November 13, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  107. john hykawy

    I really wish everyone would quit this GM bashing. Would it be better if everyone drove Ladas? If the American public didn't want big cars and suvs , they wouldn't build them. Have you ever driven an import car , in -40 degree weather? Or 3 feet of snow? I drive in these conditions every winter and the only ines on the side of the road are imports.

    Now, GM cars have been getting over 30 MPG since the late seventies. I owned a Chev Citation that got 32MPG consistently , never gave me a moments grief and I put over 250,000 miles on it. Nothing wrong with that !!

    GM currently has more Hybrids out there than anyone else, they have been working on them since back into the seventies, but they have been working on they real poluters, city buses and trucks , do some research and you will find hydrogen and diesel electric hybrid buses and trucks built by GM.

    But from the sound of all these posts, I get the feeling that everyone wants to drive Ladas. Welcome to the Socialist Republic of America.

    My god what ever happened to the United States I grew up with? The Americans that would only buy American !!


    November 14, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  108. Erik Wassenich

    Let the US car manufacturers go broke, don't bail them out. They are known for mismanagement. There are many other car manufacturers in the US and they are not complaining: French, German, Japanese, Korean – they can very well take care of the US car market.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  109. Tyla

    Let them die. Over 30 yrs ago we talked about needing cars that were not gas guzzlers when I was in the 7th grade. And here we are in one of the worst financial states the world has ever been involved in and the HUGE auto makers want us to bail them out.

    No way, I say let them fall. Reorginize with different management, and WITHOUT unions for employees to hide behind.

    If you want to work then go to work on your own and earn your pay stop hiding behind the union.

    November 14, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  110. FRAN

    I think we need to bailout the BIG THREE there are to many people and companies who will be effect causing a domino effect down the line. That being said it should be a loan backed by stocksand assets of the companies.
    There also needs to be checks and balances on management with no bonuses and salaries should be capped/ limited accross the board. There also needs to be a stop on selling any stocks by management. This should freeze everything until the money is paid back.
    There also needs to be a sit down with the unions to level the playing field and get wages and benifits back to reality and allow more automation and less workers. Let the unions be part of the team for sucsess, let them see how it works and let the unions also benefit from the sucsess as well.
    The government should also look at putting an additional $100 billion in the package make it $800 BILLION. This money should be used for states, cities, and towns . Devided up to the states on a population accounting. Nothing will jump start the economy faster then spending on construction. Spending on construction, roads
    bridges, schools, town halls, police and fire stations, you will have the best bang for the buck and it is 1 out of every 5 people are directly affected by construction.

    November 14, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  111. Philmhea

    It's difficult to know by first hand if the company selling the car is
    in bankruptcy, not until maybe you know well someone from the firm
    who would tell you exactly the status of the company. Normally only the managment side would know this, and as much as possible, as long as the company exists or still in business, they would never give any impression or whatsoever that would ruin their company. The same way as in the distribution of cars. The vendor would just discuss with the interested customers the car perse, like just about the prices, and the specs. of the car unit they are interested in–no more no less; and if they meet in a common point, then they both might get positive results.

    So maybe we can consider if we are after of the company profile of the car brand we are interested in, maybe we can review their data statistics history and how the stand in the market in a certain period of time, is the graph showing consistency of production output, or where is its peak and lowest point; but this of course depends if the company will allow open system whereas all their marketing as well as statistics data they use as support to further position their product in the market. Sometimes, what is presented to the customers are just the yearly auto sales history, if who is the top seller, as in the movies like who or what has been the top grosser movie.

    Therefore, if I will a buy, I would first check my requirements based on my needs. And if I have a budget for that; will we opt for financing or opt for a slightl used one that actually meet your specs, and the brand you want , a t a lesser price. Or will I commit yourself into a long engagement by taking the financing scheme of having the car you really like and dream of having, and commit yourself to take the responsibility of paying for it religiously for a certain period of time, as in a marriage, they say.

    November 15, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  112. Tad

    Yeah, we should help them out but with contingency's. Make them change there big spending ways, put more into RND, and make them move more towards energy efficiency. We don't need 19mpg cars or trucks.

    November 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  113. Sooner

    First of all we do not need to bail out the auto makers. The big 3 got into this mess, they can figure out how to get out of it on their own. This economy is in a mess because of the neglect to the middle class. Years of outsoursed jobs, stagnent wages, (my 3% annual wage over the last 10 years just hasn't been cutting it.), lousy work benefits. Until and only until this government realizes that the problem needs fixed from the bottom up were doomed to fail. I was first for the bailout of AIG and the banks. Look where our money is now going. Instead of helping the people these greedy skanks are handing out large bonus and dividends, buying out other banks. Where is the relief for those needing auto loans? Not there! So now the big 3 have their greedy hands outsteached. Go figure. I traded the Z71 and the Blazer on a new Nissan Rogue and a Honda CRV. After a life long history of purchasing GM vehicles I can honestly now say I did'nt realize what I was missing. GM was our first choice, but for the money there was no comparison. Whats SAD is GM has allowed its self to remain stuck in the 70's while the rest of the auto world passed them up in every catagory.

    November 15, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  114. justin

    the big three should get help there is millions of jobs at stake. unlike aig the has recieved a crazy amount. imagine the forclosures and economic outlook if one was let to fail. I also work in the auto repair industry and the impact would send us into something worse than the great depression!!!

    November 15, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  115. Larry

    Instead of a $700 Billion dollar bailout to Wall Street and the banks, let's bailout the tax payers who are giving the money anyway. If my math is correct you can give the roughly three hundred million people in the United States $50,000 to do anything they want with the money. Pay off credit cards, buy cars from GM and Ford, invest with AIG and other places, or just buy a big screen TV or two. It will cost about $15 trillion dollars. But at this point who is counting.

    November 15, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  116. Uma in Liverpool, UK

    @ Carlos

    You said:
    Free market capitalism and democracy. Isn’t that what our soldiers are dying for? Why have so many have sacrificed their lives?

    Not for free-market capitalism, nor for 'democracy'. Your troops, and ours, and Australia's, and Canada's and Italy's, and Japan's, and those of the rest of the Coalition you Americans NEVER mention, to say nothing of Iraqis, and Afghanis, and Pakistanis, and civilians... are definitely not dying for free-market capitalism, nor for 'democracy'.

    Try asking a vet, who was in Fallujah, whether he was thinking of 'free-market capitalism, or democracy', whilst trying not to be killed, and trying to take out as many as possible, of the people who were trying to take him/her out.

    By definition, 'democracy' cannot be imposed at rifle-point.

    I do not recall anyone mentioning 'free market capitalism' nor 'democracy, when war was declared 'on terrorism'.

    The invasion of Iraq was President Bush's personal decision, based upon a false claim that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    Afghanistan was attacked because the Taliban were believed to be harbouring Osama Bin-Laden - who almost certainly engineered the attacks of 9/11, and 7/7, and in Madrid. You haven't heard of 7/7? Don't know what happened in Madrid? Imagine my surprise...

    I realise this comment is off-topic, but in some ways, it isn't. Our economy is worse than the USA's. We could be rebuilding our automotive, agricultural, and even banking sectors, but we are paying through the nose, to keep fighting the USA's (futile) wars... and we never get so much as a 'thank you'. In fact, most people in the States seem to have forgotten that there is a 'Coalition of the Willing'. The USA is not the only country fighting two wars!

    Perhaps, if so many countries around the world were not haemorrhaging cash into those wars, this recession would not be as deep, or as global as it is.

    November 15, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  117. Uma in Liverpool, UK

    So, to all of you 'let 'em go broke' types, as far as the Big 3 go, whom do you suggest looks after all 10+ millions of automobile industry employees, who will be out of a job, a career, a pension, and probably out of house and home?

    Whom do recommend, to pay the $60 Billion in taxes, the US auto-industry pays? Are you volunteering? That's merely the Federal taxes. Whom do you suggest, to sustain the State of Michigan, with property taxes?

    You didn't think of that? 'Welcome to Michigan, First in Bankruptcy'. That would mean nobody who works for the State of Michigan (y'know, public school-teachers, judges, state-troopers, all the employees of the University of Michigan, people who maintain State highways, ferry workers, and like that - and the book-keepers, and the people who administer the pensions of employees of the State of Michigan, and the entire State-government) would no longer get paid...

    Yes, there is other industry in Michigan. Remove one from a king-size bed. Observe the results.

    Let 'em go? Do you think 'big picture' at all? It would/will be a disaster!

    November 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  118. SeriousSandy

    I really don't think most people have thought this through. If you let the big three collapse, you will also let over 20,000 small manufacturing companies collapse that depend on the orders from the big three. General Motors no longer build anything but the powertrains and assemble the cars. The small companies produce the parts that go into the cars. That in turn will collapse the foreign auto makers in this country, because they too depend on those manufacturers and those foreign companies can't buy enough to sustain those companies. Not only that, but you will be adding at least 300,000 people to the unemployment rolls. Then there is the issue that all of those people pay income taxes, the companies pay property taxes, federal taxes, state taxes, can the states sustain that loss of revenue?
    Then there are all the dealerships, restuarants and stores surrounding those factories that depend on those people for their business. The big three have supported more than their employees all these years. The middle class came to be, because of those companies. Add on top of that, the retirees from those companies that depend on their pensions. Does anyone know that the UAW has allowed the big three time to invest in the VEBA that was to help pay for the health insurance for the retirees. Wait until they end up on the welfare rolls, needing the government to pay for their health needs.
    This butterfly effect will bring down the whole of the United States, and I really don't think most people actually understand just how dependent they are on the American Auto Industry. Please help by informing them.

    November 17, 2008 at 12:25 am |
  119. SeriousSandy

    And by the way, the only new cars I've ever owned were GM cars. I've never had any trouble with them. I've gotten the oil changed when necessary, and basically taken good care of my vehicles. The only thing I've ever had to replace are brake shoes. I did have a problem once with paint on a 1993 Olds Cutlass, but they repainted it at the dealership, no problem. I do have to admit that the pricing is a problem. Sell the cars for what they're worth. Stop the sales, the rebates etc. Price them right in the first place. That's what the foreign car makers do. That way, they will not lose value as fast.
    Most of the antique cars are American made. I really don't see that many old foreign cars. I've owned Malibu's, Monte Carlo's, Grand Am, Toranodo, Cutlas, Bonneville's, Riveira and Impala. My new Impala gets about 23 mpg city and 32 on the highways. It's roomy, it's first class, and the payment isn't like a mortgage payment. My kids first car was the Spectrum because it was so cheap. They came with a warranty, which worked out well for them. They had something to trade in when the time was right. Some of my kids now think that the foreign cars are a better deal. They buy used and they get problems. You get what you pay for.

    November 17, 2008 at 12:46 am |
  120. Joey

    If America is really serious in changing, it should leave the car industry to fend for its self. The fear of unemployment must not be used as an excuse.
    The entire car industry in America must be reinvented. Things have be be down sized & made proportional to what the economy really is.
    Gone are the days of american exceses in everything. America should get real & realize that their business culture is over blotted & certainly can't survive an economic/Financial storm.
    Goverment must instead help the people directly. Those who will be lossing their jobs.
    Because Corporate America must be able to learn from its mistakes & not act like spoiled brats thinking that there will always be goverment that will bail them out.

    November 17, 2008 at 6:22 am |
  121. Lance

    This is too EASY!

    Give the Big Three all the Bail Out they want, you just need to get it from BIG OIL. After all, They earned these Record Billions in profits be cuase of.....Big Cars with Big Appitites. Time to show Detroit your appreciation their Houston and Dallas!

    Mr. President, you now have the Answer, put it to work, please!

    November 17, 2008 at 12:05 pm |
  122. Craig

    I agree with Lance, (previous entry), if the big 3 need extra cash to operate, then let them go to the oil industry. After all they have been in bed with each other for years, Exxon/Mobil and Conoco/Phillips have posted huge profits over the past year. Then let them work on getting energy independent. Put blame where blame belongs, they've caused the problem, get them FIX it!

    November 18, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  123. Gordon Curran

    Should the US taxpayer fund German and UK's Auto industries ?

    Opel Germany, (GM's largest subsidiary out side of the US) has approached the German Government for financial aid. The official response has not been published, but unofficiily Opel had been told get your financial aid from GM USA.

    Has any of our law makers enquired of GM or Ford whether the Auto Industry Bailout, if it happens, wil go to keeping German and UK Autoworkers in jobs? GM has another large subsidiary company the the UK, Vauxhall, and Ford has equally large subsidiary companies in both the UK and Germany.

    It would certainly be ironic if US Taxpayers were to fund European Automakers. Surely some oversight in this area is necessary.

    November 18, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  124. Joa

    ..they dug out the crooked Wallstreet acrobats, they might as well dig out the inferior managers of Ford, Chrysler and GM
    Who's next? Homebuilders? Real Estate Agents?
    You forget that jobs lost in the automotive sector under chapter 11 would be only 30% tops, because at least 70% of the work force would be instantly rehired. So don't paint the picture too bleak

    November 18, 2008 at 7:16 pm |
  125. Chris Spagnuolo

    Do you know how many hourly jobs GM has laid off from 2006 to July 2008? Take a guess. How about 34,000? And now, they're talking about another 5,500 layoffs. How many hourly jobs has Toyota’s American production system laid off in the same time frame? Zero. That’s right. ZERO. So, what does Toyota know that GM doesn't?


    November 19, 2008 at 6:35 am |
  126. Sam in Spain

    After reading Uma's books, all I can say is that she should remember what happened to the British Car Industry.

    How much of Taxpayers money was wasted trying to bail out the failing Rover's etc. and what happened. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!

    Much of the cause was the poor quality and unreliability plus the trade unions demands.

    The same will happen in the U.S. if they give them any money so let them file for Chapter 11.

    November 19, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  127. todd meeder

    have the oil companies or the saudis bail out the automakers they are the ones that profit from them

    November 19, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  128. Steve

    While it is easy to blame excessive executive compensation, disengaged management and union wage structure for the current state of the US auto industry – the fact is the Big 3 wouldn't have sold a single SUV or pickup if the American public weren't buying them like a crack addict jonesing for their next fix. Customer preferences changed overnight and the product development cycle for a new auto is at least 2 – 3 years. Clearly we cannot advocate giving the auto industry a blank check – would you give you teenage son or daughter a credit card without providing clear guidelines for its use? No. But something MUST be done – the collapse of the US auto industry would significantly weaken and erode the entire US economy at a time when the country needs to display strength at home and abroad. Many Asian countries "support" their auto industry – for example, the Chinese government is subsidizing the export drive of many fledling auto manufacturers.. Beijing also is nudging foreign auto makers to divert investment into export production so local partners can become familiar with managing foreign-exchange risk and global supply chains – all to benefit their auto industry. Do we really want to stand by passively and cede another link in the chain to another nation?

    What should be provided to the US auto makers is NOT a bailout but a bridge LOAN that they must repay with interest. In addition, there must be conditions attached to the loan – (1) eliminate CEO bonuses and cap their total compensation at $500K including stock, (2) Suspend all UAW contracts – unions had their place 100 years ago but not now – workers should not be getting paid to be idle just because they met their required union contract quota. The US companies can't compete when Chinese auto assembly workers earn $2 an hour - vs. $22 in Korea and nearly $60 in the U.S. for wages and benefits – the fixed cost component precludes US companies from being competitve at lower end of the market and essentially forces them to sell only large, heavily optioned vehicles to make a profit., (3) Remove all pension plans and benefits from the individual companies and combine in a single entity that will manage all programs for retirees – and those retirees will have to realize that cuts are coming – everyone has to tighten their belt. (4) There is a reason why Asian manufacturers selected the locations they did for their manufacturing plants here in the US – they are all "right to work" states with no union required. Therefore, state laws must change – unions are no longer required, period.

    Failure of the entire US auto industry is NOT an option, we are Americans and we can't simply yield this competitive space to other countries. We must reform and press ahead.

    November 19, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  129. Anita

    How about a buy-back program to help the Big 3, save the auto industry and help the little guy? What if owners of autos 12+ years old or more could get a government coupon good for up to $25,000 to replace their running, licensed, insured vehicle with a new vehicle from current inventory? This would infuse cash to the industry, help with emissions, and help those of us holding on by the skin of our teeth while saving jobs and greening the planet. Who with me on this? We all need real help now!

    November 19, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  130. Jan

    NO Bailout
    Big 3 has lost touch with reality a long time ago. The cars are completely outdated except the German GM company Opel.

    The rest is junk. Gas guzzlers, poor performance and old fashioned design.

    Sorry but the best for these companies is to die out or evolve on their own.

    November 20, 2008 at 3:51 am |
  131. Jon Barsanti Jr

    Is it time to start refilling the Emergency Reserves?

    November 20, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  132. Erik the Happy Ex-Pat

    Who is responsible for the meltdown in Detroit? Not the management who make all the major business decisions, dole out the money and steer the ship. No, these people are innocent victims on their Lear jets... No, the real culprits are the greedy, self serving line workers who make 50K a year and think that they are entitled to go see a doctor when they are sick. The gall!
    Detroit's problems certainly have nothing to do with their rabid insistence at forcing upon the public automobiles that are shoddy and sub standard. It's definitely not due to the fact that when gas hit $4.00 a gallon, not one had a viable automobile in their lineup to offer the public.
    Historically speaking, the role of Corporate Management has been a one way street. If they 'succeed' in meeting their goals, they make arbitrage salaries. If they fail.... Guess what, they get paid still! What a deal! The American worker feels all the pain, pays all the taxes, funds all the bail outs and then sees none of the benefits when times are good.
    We need to seriously need to reevaluate our socio-economic relationships in the nation. Simply put, there is no way that Rick Wagoneer, who makes many tens of millions of dollars a year, has any idea how the 99.9% of the rest of us live. If we do not have such a disparity in compensation then maybe we would all really be in the boat together.
    Here's a great solution in the short term. No GM employee (or for any other car company) may earn in total compensation in any definition, of more than say 500,000/year. Let them actually EARN more if they succeed. Of not, they probably didn't even earn he half-mil...
    And if this wonderful group of 'talent' no longer wants the job.... the unemployment lines are growing.... I'm sure we can find someone else to do at least the same quality

    November 20, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  133. Erik the Happy Ex-Pat

    Cars have become a disposable cosmetic instead of the tool they were meant to be. An automobile is not a 'cultural icon' of anything, and only exists in the minds of those who are selling cars.
    More critical than anything, has been the notion that cars should not be built to last more than a handful of years while promoting the idea that they should be replaced by consumers even before that. THERE IS NO NEED WHATSOEVER TO NEED TO BUY A NEW CAR MORE THAN EVERY 5 – 10 YEARS!!!! I'M TALKING NEED! Buying a new car every 2-3 years is beyond wasteful and moronic.
    This is the root of Detroit's problem. They feel that their product needed to be purchased more frequently and let quality fall in anticipation of this. This type of business model is simply unsustainable and Detroit has seen the Wall on such policies. Unfortunately, like a drug addict, the current management culture within Detroit sees fault in everyone else and in everywhere else but themselves.
    Let them burn.

    November 20, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  134. Larry

    The auto industry should receive a bailout under the following conditions:
    (1) all senior executives (at least all Section 16 executives)are terminated for cause, eliminating any severance benefits
    (2) the companies are deemed “bankrupt” so that all nonqualified deferred compensation is lost,
    (3) organized labor contracts are “renegotiated”.

    November 20, 2008 at 6:06 pm |
  135. Diana

    American cars and trucks save more lives "because" they are made bigger in size. There is not much of a chance of surriving a crash in a smaller foriegn made car or truck. Big and ugly is not the point either. I feel people will buy more American made cars and trucks if the cost of a new ones could be lowered. I also feel a cut in pay should not be taken from the hard working plant employee's to compensate the bind the company is in. Maybe a cut in pay should be taken from the million $ paid president of the Auto Industries. What the heck, come on, these CEO Presidents earn more money then the President of the United States. Maybe they should feel a change of heart and take a big cut in pay to save the American Auto Industries!!!!! If I was their President I would make the sacrifice to keep America Strong!

    December 4, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  136. kim

    I truly believe the automakers should not get a penney. Someone said its our fault the US automakers are failing. If they made cars we can afford and didn't try to build cars that fell apart costing us the Taxpayer alot more money then that would be dandy. But they are a bunch of crooks and deserve what they get. Maybe congress should consider giving us the money so we don't lose everything. Its our money that we are giving them. An article stated that the loans giving to the banks was "none of our business how the money is spent" oh yes it is. I work hard to pay my taxes and to live on very little and now that money is gone. Where. $70,000,000,000 could save alot of hungry people, children going without food or shelter, and could get alot of us out of trouble. Losing homes, wondering where the next dinner will be. Come on congress think about us. The car dealers are going to go under anyways so keep the money and spend it to keep us safe.

    December 7, 2008 at 8:49 pm |
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