The Bush administration came to the rescue of the U.S. auto industry Friday (Dec. 19), offering $17.4 billion in loans in exchange for concessions from the deeply troubled carmakers and their workers.
According to the Associated Press, one official said $13.4 billion of the money would be available this month and next – $9.4 billion for General Motors Corp. and $4 billion for Chrysler LLC. Both companies have said they soon might be unable to pay their bills without federal help. Ford Motor Co. has said it does not need immediate help.
“Allowing the auto companies to collapse is not a responsible course of action,” President Bush said, citing danger for the entire national economy as well as the carmakers. Bankruptcy, he said, would deal “an unacceptably painful blow to hardworking Americans” across the economy.
Bush said the rescue package demanded concessions similar to those outlined in a bailout plan that was approved by the House but rejected by the Senate a week ago. It would give the automakers three months to come up with restructuring plans to become viable companies.
If they fail to produce a plan by March 31, the automakers will be required to repay the loans, which they would find very difficult.
“The time to make hard decisions to become viable is now, or the only option will be bankruptcy,” Bush said. “The automakers and unions must understand what is at stake and make hard decisions necessary to reform.”