- auto industry - Barack Obama - Chrysler - employment - Ford - GM - US economy
AFP - President-elect Barack Obama said he opposed bankruptcy for the Big Three automakers but vowed to maintain government pressure on their management to restructure in return for a taxpayer bailout.
In an interview aired Sunday on NBC program "Meet the Press," Obama said the "collapse" of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler was occurring with credit markets frozen, so court-supervised bankruptcy was not an option.
"That means we're going to have to figure out how to put the pressure in the same way a bankruptcy court would ... but do so in a way that allows them to keep their factory doors open," he said.
Some of Obama's Democratic allies in Congress want a government-appointed "auto czar" to oversee a bailout, with former General Electric boss Jack Welch among the names floated.
The president-elect said he wanted a supervisory process that would keep the companies' "feet to the fire."
But while accusing the Detroit giants of making "repeated strategic mistakes" down the years, Obama said: "We don't want government to run companies.
"If taxpayer money is at stake ...," he added, "we want to make sure it is conditioned on an auto industry emerging at the end of the process that actually works."
Leaders in Congress and White House officials said Saturday they were reaching the outlines of an agreement to loan at least 15 billion dollars as a lifeline to keep the automakers afloat, half what the firms had sought.
The bosses of GM, Chrysler and Ford, which together employ millions of US workers, last week warned Congress of their industry's imminent demise if lawmakers and the White House did not strike a compromise on rescue funds.