Thursday, November 20, 2008

Automaker CEOs Plead For "$25 Billion Lifeline."

Automaker CEOs Plead For "$25 Billion Lifeline."

At a Senate hearing yesterday, "Detroit's Big Three automakers pleaded...for a $25 billion lifeline to save the once-proud titans of US industry," the AP (11/19, Davis) reports. Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, and GM CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr. warned of "national economic catastrophe should they collapse." Wagoner said, "Our industry...needs a bridge to span the financial chasm that has opened up before us." Wagoner "blamed the industry's predicament not on management failures but on the deepening global financial crisis." Nardelli "told the panel the bailout would be 'the least costly alternative' when compared with damage from bankruptcy."

        ABC World News (11/18, story 3, 2:25, Gibson) said the "$25 billion taxpayer bailout...would amount to $81.71 for every man, woman, and child in America. The heads of GM, Ford and Chrysler, however, predicted an economic disaster for themselves and the country if they don't get the money." ABC (Karl): "Their basic message? Pay now or pay much more later if their industry collapses."

        The CBS Evening News (11/18, lead story, 3:00) reported, "It is the toughest road General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler have ever had to travel: uphill all the way to the US Capitol." NBC Nightly News (11/18, lead story, 3:50, Williams) added, "GM may not make it without help, and others may have to merge. If just one of the Big Three were to fail, an estimated 2.5 million jobs might be lost. That's what Congress is trying to balance because there's bailout fatigue right now in Washington."

        AFP (11/18, Loubette) noted that GM "has said it will run out of cash as early as January if it does not get help from the government and analysts have said it would likely be liquidated if it was forced into bankruptcy protection." The Wall Street Journal (11/19, A1, Hitt, Dolan) reports on its front page that the fact "that the companies were convening -- 'hat in hand,'" as Dodd put it -- "before a congressional panel reinforced the depth of their difficulties and the possible diminishment of their political clout. Extending a helping hand to Detroit automakers, long a central part of the nation's manufacturing base, doesn't appear to be a given." USA Today (11/19, Hyde, Spangler) says the three CEOs and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger "warned of grave damage to the entire US economy and to one another should one of Detroit's titans tumble into bankruptcy. They said a court reorganization would shatter consumer confidence and cost the government more" than the $25 billion they seek.

        The front page of the Washington Post (11/19, A1, Montgomery), the Financial Times (11/19, Dombey), the front page of the New York Times (11/19, A1, Vlasic, Herszenhorn), the Politico (11/19, Rogers), the Washington Times (11/19, Lengell), the Christian Science Monitor (11/19, Grier) and The Hill (11/19, Bogardus) also report on the auto industry's request, while the Wall Street Journal (11/19, A18, Conkey) compares a possible rescue package to the post-9/11 rescue of the airline industry.