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Should Congress Bail Out the Automakers?

If Michigan-bred Mitt Romney doesn't think Congress should bailout the auto industry, then the plan to save Detroit might need a set of jumper cables. Mitt wrote today:

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor, and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority, and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

But not everyone agrees with Mitt's persuasive case. In an attempt to persuade Congress that it must act, the big-three automakers may have given themselves a flat tire. Yesterday, the CEOs of GM, Ford, and Chrysler flew into Washington on private jets (which cost about $36 million each) so they could make in-person appeals for $25 billion of taxpayer money. Looks like first-class wouldn't suit the first-class beggars.

For more on how much the companies spend on private jets, and for some arguments in support of a bailout,


ABC News reports that a private jet trip from Detroit to Washington, DC costs about $20,000. Ford's CEO takes the company's private jet back from Detroit to Seattle each weekend, while making $28 million as his annual salary. Meanwhile, thousands of employees get laid off, and the companies are asking the public for billions.

Still, if the car companies fail average Americans, not just jet-setting CEOs, have much to lose. The automakers and their affiliates make up 2 percent of the American workforce, and nearly one million Americans participate in GM's pension program, which would cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars if it collapsed.

What do you think the US government should do?


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