Not a handout but still guesswork whether the taxpayers are going to get this money back if the Big Three go belly up:
The White House announced a $17.4 billion rescue package for the troubled Detroit auto makers that allows them to avoid bankruptcy and leaves many of the big decisions for the incoming Obama administration.
Speaking from the White House, President George W. Bush said the administration decided against forcing a bankruptcy to compel cost-cutting, in order to avoid the risk that consumers would desert one or more of the companies and touch off an industry collapse, deepening the current economic downturn.
"In the midst of a financial crisis...allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action," Mr. Bush said.
"Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say 'this is the price that failed companies must pay' and I would not favor intervening to prevent the auto makers from going out of business," the president said. "But these are not ordinary circumstances."
The deal would extend $13.4 billion in loans to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC in December and January, with another $4 billion likely available in February. It also would provide the government with non-voting warrants, although the exact amount was unclear immediately. Ford Motor Co. has said it doesn't need short-term assistance.
The deal is contingent on the companies' showing that they are financially viable by March 31. If they aren't, the loans will be called and all funds must be returned, officials said.
Anyone want to guess if the government is actually going to say that the car makers are not "financially viable" in March? Chances are, Obama will have a tough decision to make when that deadline approaches; continue bailing them out with twice or even three times that amount or let them go under.
Given big labor's hold on Democrats, what do you think the choice will be?