President-elect Barack Obama announced support Sunday for a short-term government bailout of the nation’s carmakers that is tied to industry restructuring. He also accused auto executives of a persistent “head-in-the sand approach” to long-festering problems.
Obama said Congress was doing “the exact right thing” in drafting legislation that “holds the auto industry’s feet to the fire” at the same time it tries to prevent its demise.
In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and later at a news conference, Obama at one point suggested some executives should lose their jobs.
By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press
One leading Democrat in Congress, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, was far blunter. Rick Wagoner, the chief executive of General Motors Corp., “has to move on,” said Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
President-elect Barack Obama takes a question during a news conference in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The criticism of industry leaders deepened as negotiators for the White House and Congress narrowed their differences over a plan to extend roughly $15 billion in short-term loans to any Detroit automaker that needs it. Analysts say General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, in particular, are at risk for running out of money in the next few weeks, and that Ford Motor Co. may need help if the economy deteriorates further.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, whose state is ground zero for the battered industry, said he was confident an agreement would emerge within the next day.