Speed bumps slow latest auto bailout

Chrysler and General Motors held their hands out for up to $21.6 billion in additional federal aid this week. But they found even some of their allies in Washington were unimpressed with the recovery plans they have put together.

A spokesman for President Barack Obama, for instance, thanked the companies for submitting plans but said “much more will be required from everyone involved ... to ensure the viability of these companies.”

And Obama’s former nominee to be commerce secretary, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, declared that no more taxpayer money should be given to Chrysler until its majority owner — Cerberus Capital Management LP, agrees to put more money into stabilizing the company.

Still others in Washington were demanding more concessions from labor unions over items such as the auto workers retirement plans. And financial experts said both companies need to offer more details on how they will reduce costs, improve their markets and restructure existing debt.

Since every day seems to bring new reports of the latest government spending to help turn around the economy, it is unlikely that Congress or the Obama administration will reject automakers’ requests for additional billions.

But it’s welcome to see that they are at least demanding answers to a few very important questions before proceeding.


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