Big Three presidents appeal to Congress

Possible auto aid program under short procedural deadline
By Gordon Sova
||Last Updated: 01/15/2009

Representatives of the three American domestic car makers, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, appeared before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on November 18 to make their plea for government help. By all accounts, the reception was not friendly. And Congress was scheduled to adjourn until the new year on November 21, making approval of a bail-out unlikely.

The package being debated would be worth $25 billion (US) and would provide loans to keep the Big Three liquid. (Chrysler claims it may be out of cash before the end of the year, GM next year; only Ford does not expect to need the funds.) It would also certainly contain job guarantees and all three companies have sworn that all the money will be spent in the U.S. Which explains why Canadian government officials have traveled to Detroit and Washington to co-ordinate its efforts with those south of the border.

Not surprisingly, many are blaming the unions in both Canada and the United States for the situation in which the auto companies find themselves. Others are blaming corporate executives. Few seem to recognize that their criticism is more moral than economic and may entirely miss the point.