Bailout can’t be a quick fix

Published 11:19 am Friday, December 5, 2008

As Congressional leaders banter back and forth the ideas on whether to bail out the Big 3 automakers, many in the Tri-State are hopeful such an arrangement can be made in hopes it will have a positive effect on Ashland’s AK Steel plant.

But the developments in Washington are not promising.

The CEOs of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler LLC testified on Capitol Hill Thursday and will do so again today, but many senators are growing more skeptical of giving the executives what they are requesting.

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That is a $34 billion package, but some, including President Bush, believe it is throwing money onto a sinking ship.

“No matter how important the autos are to our economy, we don’t want to put good money after bad,” Bush said during an interview with NBC News. “In other words, we want to make sure that the plan they develop is one that ensures their long-term viability for the sake of the taxpayer.”

And while that may not be what those impacted by AK’s temporary closure want to hear, it is hard to argue with that logic. All parties agree that any sort of bailout will include a government board that would supervise a massive restructuring.

The CEOs are fighting against a pre-planned bankruptcy and Congress wants the Bush administration to take a more active role in the bailout and spend some of the $700 million devoted to the Wall Street rescue fund. That appears unlikely and uncertainty swirls around the efforts to assist the automakers.

With all of that, countless workers — including some here — are in limbo. But there’s no question that President Bush and Congressional leaders have it right when they say the only viable option is a plan equates into longterm stability for these struggling giants.