Angry Automobile Manufacturers discusses long term funds
WASHINGTON — The chief executives of America’s foundering automobile manufacturers returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday and found themselves confronting years of pent-up anger, the harsh politics of a recession and the realization that even their strongest supporters might not be able to muster the votes to save them.
Fiscal hawks are worried that taxpayers will lose billions. Pro-labor lawmakers are furious that union workers are being blamed for causing the automakers’ problems, even as tens of thousands face layoffs. Environmentalists like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are fed up after years of battles over fuel-efficiency rules. And Congress, as a whole, is suffering from acute bailout fatigue.
“Any threat of a company going into bankruptcy would really, really hurt sales,” Mr. Mulally said. “Sales would fall off so fast that you couldn’t restructure fast enough.”
Much of the questioning from senators zeroed in on whether the companies were simply seeking loans to forestall inevitable failure. But over the course of nearly six hours of questions, some lawmakers belittled or dismissed aspects of the companies’ plans. In a reminder that the automakers are seeking help after a long line of banks before them received taxpayer funds, many with few strings attached, a large chart stood just to the side of the dais titled, “Taxpayer-Funded Bailouts.”