Obama Again Urges Detroit Bailout, with Strings Attached
Monday, November 24, 2008 at 1:22 pm
Officially introducing his economic team Monday, President-elect Barack Obama reiterated his call to help Detroit’s automakers survive the miserable economy — but emphasized that the companies should be prepared to make some concessions in return.
“We can’t allow the auto industry simply to vanish,” he said. “[But] we can’t just write a blank check … Taxpayers can’t be expected to pony up more money for an auto industry that has been resistant to change.”
Resistant indeed. For decades, the industry fought efforts to hike the fuel-economy of their vehicles. That opposition allowed the companies to continue producing the gas-gulping SUVs that were so popular for most of the last decade, but it’s put them at a stark disadvantage as consumers have moved toward more efficient cars.
The heads of the automakers were on Capitol Hill last week begging for $25 billion in emergency loans, but many lawmakers were less than impressed with their pitch. Some said they appeared arrogant, even as they were shaking their tin cup. Obama said he was “surprised” that the executives had no specific plan for spending the cash. He said congressional leaders “did the right thing” in asking the companies to come up with such a strategy and present it to Congress for consideration.
That plan is due to reach congressional leaders Dec. 2. Time will tell how far the Big Three are willing to bend — and whether Republicans are willing to do the same.
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