Poll: Do you think GM, Ford, and Chrysler should be bailed out?


Just yesterday, America's 3 largest automakers -- Ford, GM, and Chrysler -- all submitted business plans to congress. 

Here are the original copies of the plans:

Key components of the business plans


  • Increased production of fuel-efficient vehicles and energy-saving technologies
  • Rationalization of brands, models and retail outlets
  • Reduced wage and benefit costs, including further reductions in executive compensation
  • Significant capital structure restructuring
  • Consolidation in manufacturing operations


Funds requested

  • Ford is requesting a standby letter of credit for up to $9 billion. 
  • GM is requesting loans of up to $12 billion. 
  • Chrysler is requesting loans of up to $7 billion.


The potential repercussions...


  • The automakers - especially GM and Chrysler - predict catastrophe if they do not receive the loans.
  • In its business plan, GM claims that without "such assistance, the company will default in the near term, very likely precipitating a total collapse of the domestic industry and its extensive supply chain ... The cost of failure in this instance would be enormous for everyone."
  • Chrylser argues that the $7 billion is "necessary to prevent further economic decline, if not outright economic depression."


What others have to say

  • Recent polls have shown varying degrees of support for the bailout among the public.  
  • According to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 47% of adults believe "providing loans and other help" to auto companies is "not very important."
  • A poll conducted on Nov. 11-12 by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, found that 55% of Americans believe that the government should provide loans to American automakers, while 30% oppose.
  • A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, conducted by telephone on Dec. 1-2 with nearly 1,100 people, showed that 61% of those surveyed oppose government assistance for the major U.S. automakers.

Entrepreneurs: what do you think?

Here at Growthink, we're curious to hear what entrepreneurs -- who are used to shopping their business plans around to lenders and investors -- have to say about the automakers' business plans and potential bailout. 



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Steve B says

Regardless of it's impact on the economy, floating a substantial loan to a failed business, as quoted by some in Washington, is plain reckless. Personally, a business who clings onto hard line capitalism and laissez-faire economics should never beg the government for assistance. No government interaction or regulation also means no government bail out. If anyone wants to argue that the auto companies gladly accept the government regulations placed upon them they need to wake up and understand the history of business in America.
Posted at 4:30 pm
Michael Tellex says

I do not believe that the government should bailout the "big 3" because of their poor management, planning, apparent lack of noticing what Toyota, Honda, and others were doing for many years. They are not asking for a handout. The "big 3" has for decades neglected to develop fuel efficient vehicles, while being greedy and not planning for the future, by building more expensive and profitable vehicles. My family is middle-class, no mention of "us" in the bailout talks. Only the "poor" and the "big", greedy, and mismanaged companies are being considered for handouts. We cannot make our mortgage payment along with others, as I have been forced to close my business and layoff 8 employees. WHERE is my, and my former employees, bailout?!! I have heard absolutely nothing in the news media that would benefit us in the least. Other major companies have reorganized through bankruptcy, if the "big 3" can't, then they don't deserve to be in business.
Posted at 5:01 pm
Jerry Self says

Why should the taxpayer bail out big business for making bad financial decisions? How about when I make a bad financial choice I get the government to bail me out? When the AIG fiasco came about, a friend of mine sent the comments below. It's a wild idea, but it makes some sense! It could be modified to fit the Big 3 bailout too. This is a much better idea! 'I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG. Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend. To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+. Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up... So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals $425,000.00. My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend. Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let's assume a tax rate of 30%. Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam. But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife has $595,000.00. What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family? Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved. Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads Put away money for college - it'll be there Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs. Buy a new car - create jobs Invest in the market - capital drives growth Pay off your Brooks tennis dues. Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean - or else Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces. If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( 'vote buy' ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President. If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+! As for AIG - liquidate it. Sell off its parts. Let American General go back to being American General. Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up. Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't. Sure it's a crazy idea that can 'never work.' But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party! How do you spell Economic Boom? I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC . And remember, This plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam. Lets send this to everyone you know and get the USA out of trouble.
Posted at 5:09 pm
Cory Chisholm says

Why should the government bail out a business because of poor management? If that is the case, bail out all of the other companies that are ready to close their doors. Bail out the home owners that have borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars against the equity of their home to buy their new toys that were not needed. Is it the tax payers fault that these automakers pay their employees approx $80 per hour (includes benifits, 401k, etc.) to put a couple of bolts into a fender? Is it the tax payers fault that the automakers did not create vehicles that use less fuel? Is it the taxpayers fault that the CEO's of these companies are making 8 digit incomes and flying around in private jets? I think my point has been made.
Posted at 5:27 pm
Ryan says

Bailing out the auto makers would be a huge mistake! One that we've made before 30 years ago. It's time that these CEOs and the UAW learn that business is risky and that hard times require creativity, intelligence and stamina - not begging for loans and bailouts that will not be repaid. The argument that the failure of any of these companies will cause a catastrophe is just nonsense! There will always be a demand for vehicles, and therefor there will always be auto jobs - they just might not be at the big 3. Also, Chrysler is a privately owned company. They should in no way be asking for anything!
Posted at 5:52 pm
Catherine says

they should first file for ch 11 get the labor unions to renogotiate as well as restructuring then recieve the loans -- better yet -let the banks we have bailed out provide the loans at the orders of the government instead of buying up other banks
Posted at 6:03 pm
Neal Mc says

Several preceeding comments are negative to an auto industry "bailout." I think that, given stringent federal requirements, assistance would be helpful. First, Ford produces several very good products that are comparable to many foreign autos. Their smaller autos sell well enough in Europe to draw "rodding" articles in English and German magazines and aftermarket parts. Second, no one forced thousands of U.S. soccer Moms (and football Dads) to buy SUVs; the auto companies responded to the findings of their marketing research and built products that Americans wanted - in great quantities. Third, though the auto companies have been slow to embrace CAFE, they have little choice. Blame Congress for giving in to "special interests." Fourth, the law of unintended consequences prevails. The pundents say that the auto industry is different from the TARP buffered financials. Not entirely. Who banks, seeks various kinds of credit, and places deposits in U.S. banks, large and small? Ford, GM, Chrysler for payroll, working capital, supplies, etc? Workers depositing paychecks and buying houses and Christmas gifts? Vendors and suppliers bridging payment float with corporate paper? There may be unforeseen damage to our economy if we let the autos fail, espeically given the precarious short term situations of GM and Chrysler. The autos need a break.
Posted at 6:31 pm
Sandra Adams says

My suggestion would be to merge the three companies into one. Stop production of wasteful vehicles and begin/step-up immediate production of fuel effecient hybrid, electric vehicles and energy-saving technologies. During transition, merge, downsize and reduce pay of all non-essential ceo's from each company and reduce hour's of production workers/hourly employees without layoffs. The government bailout should be half of the total amount requested from each company: Ford $9 billion GM $12 billion Chrysler $7 billion Total $28 billion / 2 Merged Company Bailout = $14 billion
Posted at 6:53 pm
Sandy says

Bailout for stupidity and high living is rediculous. Should we give more welfare to those that live elaborate lifestyles, have union employees that earn top wages with massive benefits... I think not! The normal living class of America has had to pay for the higher cost developed by these people so their style of life can continue. The Airlines made it, many other companies have used " Bankruptcy" to allow them to readjust, cut cost and develope new strategies and planning to be more successful. My business will be directly effected by the big 3 as well as many others that may go under. Would it be fair for the government to bail everyone out? We are supposed to be the envy of all other countries, "The land of opportunity" yet we cannot show how strong we are by not keeping up, outsourcing our American jobs because our own greed keeps us down. WE have given up on faith and religion and and now worship money. "Wake up America." How long can this continue?
Posted at 7:03 pm
BRuce Ross says

In the past, with Chrysler, the government did very well with a loan during difficult times for the company and the economy... it was repaid with interest, early. This time, we have an economic situation that in many ways was brought on by failed government and leadership... government failed to ensure that derivatives were properly monitored and leadership brought about catastrophe through the trillion $ tax gift to folks who didn't need it, and a simultaneous war for a perfect storm that precipitated recession, oil price escalation, and dry credit long before it needed to happen. This is hammering the auto industry, but they can thrive if given the opportunity. The big three, clearly share complicity in their problems through poor management over many years, as do the unions through leveraged negotiation. Share holders obviously share... they were well invested in these companies 'till recently. Boards of directors and executives at all three should be looked at through the eyes of Sorbane-Oxley Specs... but shouldn't those of almost all the Fortune 500? The repercussions of failure are unknown... frankly, I don't want to find out unless it is unavoidable. I read many brave statements by journalists, and bloggers... but they don't have to make the decision to essentially pull the plug. They weren't contrarian a couple of years ago either... when the stock market was surging on the surf of derivatives and un-hedged mortgages; before we had lost 3,000 more lives in Iraq; and oil was $35 per barrel and MPG was 12 to 20 in cars that were jumping off the dealer floors. Time to face facts... we need to be realistic, buck-up, and work our way out of this mess. It is not time to be pumping our chest and say "let the bastards freeze".
Posted at 8:04 pm
Charlie says

Your poll question is faulty. You can't ask a should or should not question and then have "yes" and "no" as answers. That's Research 101.
Posted at 9:12 pm
Gayle Angel says

I believe the automakers are part of the reason that this economy is in a recession. I worked at Ford for 23 years. More than 10 years ago, Ford was building factories in Mexico and Portugal and third world countries in an effort to increase profits and do away with American jobs. They succeeded at my factory December 2007 when over 3000 employees lost their jobs to these other countries. Some of us were asked to go to these countries and help "train" the employees there to do "our" jobs! (of course no one here was that stupid)This NAFTA thing started a vicious cycle. If automakers are building vehicles in other countries and paying employees there 2 or 3 dollars a day in labor, then the employees there can't afford to buy the $25,000 vehicle and no one here is going to buy it if we have no jobs for income because our jobs are in their country, then who do they expect is going to buy them? I saw and felt first hand the decrease in American automaker employees wages and benefits for several years...while the executive and upper management continuously received increases in salaries and bonuses! Bonuses for what? A failing company? Corporate Greed is the answer to "how did we get in this mess in the first place?" What goes around, comes around...and I believe it has come around for the corporate greedy people, but the sad part is that the victims of this greed (you and me) are going to have to suffer more and be forced to pay for it. I don't quite know how, yet since we don't have jobs to pay taxes anymore...?
Posted at 10:43 pm
Theodore Kellogg says

The consumer casts his dollar vote when he buys something for congress to overide this is to ignore the dollar vote for now I stick with the dollar vote of the consumer. Mass transit is much needed as well as green cars 34 billion of gauranteed contracts should be offered to any one that can coordinate their own financing this is good for everyone and still respects the dollar vote.
Posted at 11:25 pm
Ken M. says

I personally don't believe the government should be providing a bailout, not to the banking industry or the automotive industry. They've already made one very drastic mistake by approving the 700 Billion dollar fiasco. I have my opinions as to the whys and the what ifs but I'll supprees them here. As far as the automitive industry is concerned I read each of the above comments and I must say that I do agree with most of them, as far as those that say no bailout should be provided. Of all of the statements above however and as selfish as it may be I do agree with Steve B. when he states, "Personally, a business who clings onto hard line capitalism and laissez-faire economics should never beg the government for assistance. No government interaction or regulation also means no government bail out."
Posted at 1:43 am
Louis B says

I surprised at the focus of some comments on the types and styles of vehicles made by the Big3, which has little to do with the problem. The US auto (and most of the manufacturing) industry(ies) are non-competitive globally because their cost of inputs is too high. Mostly this is due to labor costs. EETimes (an electronics industry publication) just published a salary survey showing that the US wages are inverted across the scale from the rest of the world - the majority of US engineers make over $100K/yr. whereas in Asia and Europe the majority make under $45K. Is it any wonder that companies are moving production off shore? The auto industry has too long been propped up by Democrats buying the union vote and Republicans who think that they are defending domestic industry by perpetuating obsolete business structures and models. With an expanding economy, it is easy to just pass the costs to the consumer without care for business efficiency. Any creativity to be had left in US business "models" (such as the three submitted by the automakers) is only in the form of PR spin. Let them go into bankruptcy, eliminate the unions to restore the labor market, and let the leaner/meaner companies that come out of the process "go get 'em!"
Posted at 9:52 am
Scott says

I'd like to see the business plans that AIG and the other financial institutions had to submit as part of the bailout funds they received. The auto companies are asking for a bridge loan that will be paid back with interest. Are the other banks and insurance companies held to the same criteria and approval standards for their failures and bailout? Why is there a difference?
Posted at 9:55 am
SW says

Absolutely no bailout! Execs from the "Bible belt" automakers (Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, VW) are not scheduled to come to DC. The big 3 have failed for the past 40 years, what makes them think they can become successful now. This is a disgrace and shame for any business owners who make every efforts to keep up with trends, adapt their businesses by listening to their customers and delivering a top-notch quality product, exercise fiscal responsibility and hold themselves accountable. In addition, the big 3 should start making reliable cars and stop cutting corners so they can pay the unions. A major transformation is needed in these organizations and some serious sacrifice must be made (eg. start paying a copay like everyone else in America). America would be in real trouble if most businesses were managed the way the big 3 are. Thank goodness that's not the case.
Posted at 10:00 am
Mark Wagner says

Bankruptcy laws and processes have been in place for a long time with demonstrated successes, most notably the airline industry. GM has stated that customers won't purchase cars if they are in bankruptcy. I think that is simply not true. Buying an airline ticket during bankruptcy is sigificantly riskier than buying a Buick. This is 25 years of mismanagement that won't be solved by extended the funeral service another 2 years. Allow free markets to be just that.
Posted at 10:50 am
Gary says

These auto makers will never survive with big greedy Labor Unions on their backs. Sure the UAW is willing to make concessions, for the time being. However if we bail out the car makers the Labor Unions will be popping the cork off champange bottles because they know they will have a huge bargaining chip at their next contract talks. Labor Unions will hold this Gov and the taxpayers hostages if they don't get back all of their outrageous benifits restored along with a hefty 40% pay raise they will go on strike!!
Posted at 11:02 am
GregW says

This should not be a taxpayer issue to deal with. If it is then so is every other manufacturing business in the country. Of the three Ford makes a pretty good case in their plan however it falls short of giving enough logic as to why it isn't getting help elsewhere or downsizing even further. The housing industry is not being shown any mercy, so why should auto manufacturing. GM actually shows part of the problem in their plan. They acknowledge that the US is the biggest market yet they also state how well the foreign manufacturing is doing. So let's see we have priced ourselves out of the auto manufacturing business labor wise, we are not building the product that the market wants and we don't know how to shut off the waste; now why doesn't that sound like something we all want to invest in for the future? GM's plan assumes a 2009 turnaround in the economy. I don't hear that or see that at this point. So if this doesn't happen there is no chance for GM to recover. Chrysler is another animal altogether. It is not even a public company. Looks like someone needs to be seeking Chapter 11, if it is as bad as they make sound. The bottom line on all of this is that we/taxpayers have no clue as to what the odds are of any of these companies surviving recession or not. There are other alternatives toward all electric autos that have gotten a jump on all three of them. To loan the old powerhouses this kind of money will prevent being able to loan emerging technology alternatives funds to stimulate their growth if necessary. The big three have waited too long to wake up. I think there only hope may be to merge or sell out to the new wave of electric car alternatives. Either way it should be left to free market forces to resolve, even if it does hurt. They are too far from reality and this includes the UAW.
Posted at 11:41 am
dsk says

Entrepreneurs need to solve real-world problems with practical, economical and sensible solutions. So it is surprising that so many of the comments and opinions above on this topic rest on political ideology, free market principles, anger at big 3 and financial industry executives and their excess compensation and resentment about outsourcing and poor government policy-making in the past. It may be reasonable to hold any or all of these opinions, but they do not direct this dialogue towards a practical, economical solution to this massive real world problem. Our best guide must be the lessons of the Great Depression, where government failed to intervene until years into the downward spiral. We just cannot let that happen to our citizens and economy again, especially for the sake of self-righteous ideology. If the Big 3 don't pay their tens of billions in bills to their suppliers and instead shut down, then the loss of economic activity will be unprecedented: hundreds of thousands current big 3 employees will lose their jobs, hundreds of thousands more Big 3 retirees will lose all their benefits and millions of supplier employees will lose their jobs too. Estimates from the GAO (non-partisan and reliable) confirm these figures. Job losses will lead to more foreclosures, increased homelessness in many states, huge unemployment claims (with no employer contributions), loss of health care coverage and increases in emergency room over-use and much more. The loss of the spending power of these millions of families will further depress the local and then the national economy. I am no fan of the Big 3 (or the Wall Street crowd either), but I do care about all the families that will lose incomes, homes, health care, proper nutrition, educational opportunity and dignity. They are the ones who will bear the punishment that the free market idealogues wish to inflict on the fat cats. Shall we cast them all suddenly into wretched poverty to show our faith in free market principles? The Big 3 should go down, but for heaven's sake not now and not all at once. The risks to working families who have no blame for the economic mess is just too great. Have you been to Detroit or Flint lately? How much of the industrial Mid-West should we sacrifice like that on the alter of free enterprise? The real world, practical and ecomonic solution may be to make these loans for now to prevent a depression spiral; let the market catch up with the Big 3 in better times. It will cost a lot less to lend them the money than to deal with the mess of not lending it.
Posted at 12:08 pm
Ken G says

They need help but they need to held on a short leash. If they want us to buy their cars then they need to give back to their local communities. Why don't Exxon Mobil help out? I am a local guy and sell direct mail advertising to auto dealerships and for years they have taken the work overseas or to an outside vendor and my pricing was right in line. Why because they got kick backs. I grew up in Detroit and the auto dealerships really screwed those people. Lets out source some more!!!!
Posted at 1:07 pm
John Elliott says

Let's cut to the chase. The hydro-carbon burning automobile as a means of moving millions of humans, often one-at-a-time, was and is a very wasteful enterprise, and not sustainable. Bucky Fuller, decades ago, revealed the waste of human and planet Earth resources. In the U.S., I figure we've wasted 1/4 to 1/3 of our wealth in the last 100 years to the automobile. If we had invested a fraction of that wealth in real mass transit, that is; light rail and high speed trains, we would not be dependent on foreign oil, would not have millions of jobs dependent on this wasted enterprise, and even considering a $50-100 billion dollar bailout of the big-three auto companies. Having grown up in Southern California, dealing with L.A. freeways for decades, the proposed, insane double-decker freeway "vision" 15 years ago, where the average freeway speed I understand to be 17 mph, I fully understand the power and influence of the auto and oil lobbies. I also lived in eight countries in Europe, and never did I need or desire an automobile. China is surpassing us in this regard, and that will further guarantee they surpassing us in production and economic viability. We need to stop this insanity. The automobile as our main transportation and the bankrupt industry that needs the people's money to sustain itself, need to die; or at least shrink in importance and influence in our culture and to our legislators. But, for the reason that this industry has grown to be such a critical component of our economy, its going to be a painful correction, no matter which way it goes. And, the further its falsely sustained, the more costly its going to be for the American people. JE
Posted at 3:15 pm
spicegirl says

You cannot cut off your nose to spite your face. It is a loan that will be repaid. I fail to understand how so many of you supported the 700B bail out of Wall Street and now refuses to lend 34B to Main Street that will also benefit Side Street. I really do not see how we cannot but help the automakers. These are American cars built by Americans. How can you continue to support foreign economies at the expense of your own? You may feel you are getting better value for money buying a foreign car but eventually the result of collective purchases will bite you in the butt. This is what America is experiencing now. Look at the repercussion if they do not get the help they need. Millions of jobs will be lost, yes millions! You have to include suppliers etc. Can the country afford to do this at this time? NO! Yes they have problems in manufacturing but you can fix it. You need those companies making hybrid cars so you can stop being so damn independent on Arab oil that finds its way into terrorists hands and are being used to destroy you. This is an avenue America has to stop the indirect funding of terrorists and should never be closed. The less money spent with the Arabs the fewer funds available to terrorists to pay military men to train them. Get real! Wake up, smell the roses and lend them the money. BTW should they need more and I suspect they just may, LEND THEM AGAIN.
Posted at 9:48 am
loren saunders says

No bailout. Here's a response to one of the "yes bailout" comments:

"First, Ford produces several very good products that are comparable to many foreign autos. Their smaller autos sell well enough in Europe to draw "rodding" articles in English and German magazines and aftermarket parts."
-- great, then let them focus their business on that, and shed the other parts of the model that dont' work.

"Second, no one forced thousands of U.S. soccer Moms (and football Dads) to buy SUVs; the auto companies responded to the findings of their marketing research and built products that Americans wanted - in great quantities. "
-- true, but that doesn't mean we should reward them for making a bad business decision... which was merely to make a quick buck now and not think about long term business strategy.

"Third, though the auto companies have been slow to embrace CAFE, they have little choice."
-- what?

"Fourth, the law of unintended consequences prevails. The pundents say that the auto industry is different from the TARP buffered financials. Not entirely. Who banks, seeks various kinds of credit, and places deposits in U.S. banks, large and small? Ford, GM, Chrysler for payroll, working capital, supplies, etc? Workers depositing paychecks and buying houses and Christmas gifts? Vendors and suppliers bridging payment float with corporate paper? There may be unforeseen damage to our economy if we let the autos fail"
-- define what you mean by "damage to our economy". In any dynamic system when significant change happens, it's necessary for certain parts to die off so other parts can thrive. These massive changes we are undergoing are necessary for the health and vitality of a dynamic economy. To continue to "bail out" sectors of the economy, to introduce regulations, price restrictions, government ownership... only moves us towards a command economy, which is the instrument of communism/socialism that everyone seems so afraid of.

No system, population, company, or economy can grow indefinitely. It's impossible. We live in a finite world. There is nothing wrong with a recession or even a depression. Sure we have the endure being uncomfortable or downsize our houses, but it's not the end of the world. It's time to start valuing things in this world that aren't "things" and accept that economies and systems change all the time, and we all take our turns being "rich".

Posted at 10:43 am
Rex White says

The auto industry needs help but the auto companies must revamp their executive personnel. We CAN NOT loan monies to companies that remain in the hands of those that ran the companies into ruin in the first place. Fire the CEO’s and bring in the innovation. Put the best interest of the public at the forefront of purpose. Watch the Movie, Who Killed the Electric Car. Obesity is an epidemic that is symptomatic of loss of purpose and degenerated esteem, misplaced values and arrogance. Stop feeding the gluttonous, restore the rights of individuals with education and spawn freedom of choice where there actually is choice. Green Cars must not cost $40,000.
Posted at 1:27 pm
Sherry Emanuel says

I think the auto companies should go to the oil companies for loans. After all, do they not work hand in glove? And, as we all know, the oil companies have had quarter after quarter of obscene profits. Let them do something productive with their money.
Posted at 1:44 pm

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