Automakers, UAW Desperate For Any Money They Can Get

Yesterday, GM, Ford, Chrysler and the UAW went to Washington to beg for a federal bailout. No word on whether anyone actually got down on his knees, but they haven’t gotten the money yet, and the message emerging from yesterday’s meeting was that they desperately want federal funding.

WSJ: The heads of Detroit’s three auto makers and the United Auto Workers union pleaded Thursday with Democratic congressional leaders to rush more government aid to their foundering companies, offering to accept conditions such as granting stock warrants to the government in return for capital, a person familiar with the discussions said.

President-elect Barack Obama and some other Democrats have expressed support for proposals to double to $50 billion a previously authorised government-loan program aimed at helping Detroit’s unionized auto makers retool to build more efficient cars. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday made no explicit promises to the auto-industry delegation about approving additional assistance.

A spokesman for Mrs. Pelosi said after a meeting with the auto makers and UAW that she wants some form of “recoupment” for taxpayers in return for more subsidies, possibly faster rollout by the car makers of more fuel-efficient vehicles. He declined to be more specific about the kinds of commitments or conditions the speaker would want. “There’s still a long way to go,” he added.

Sen. Reid, who also met Thursday with the auto-industry delegation, said in a statement that the Bush administration should “exercise its existing authority to provide additional help” to the manufacturers. Mr. Reid also said Congress will “continue exploring ways to assist this important sector of our economy.” The Bush administration so far has resisted using money from the $700 billion financial markets rescue package to help the Detroit auto makers.

Mrs. Pelosi, in an interview Thursday before the meeting, suggested the government assistance should be tied to moves to improve fuel efficiency. “I don’t think you’ll see much interest” if aid goes toward “doing things the old way,” she told The Wall Street Journal.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.