With the economy what it is and our country in the middle of a presidential transition, another huge bailout request is a lot for the average American to take in. It is hard to decipher fact from fiction at a time like this, let alone make an objectionable opinion from all the bias political statements being made. For this reason, I decided to do some research of my own and compile a list of the pro’s and con’s of an auto industry bailout.
Pro 1: Eco Cars
If the bailout money works the way it is supposed to and pulls the big three out of the hole, good things could potentially come of it. One proposal is that after being saved the automakers could be pushed to manufacture and sell cars that are both good for the environment and economy. As Jeffrey D. Sachs of the Washington Post states, "Washington should seize the opportunity to begin a new era of U.S. technological leadership in the global auto industry, starting with an immediate loan. This is an opportunity to embark on a major industry restructuring to position the United States to lead the world in producing cars that get 100 miles or more per gallon".
Con 1: Taxpayer Cash
Perhaps the most obvious con, it is no secret that we will all be helping bail these companies out. Although it is still unknown where the money may or may not come from, taxpayer cash will be included for sure. Bloggers, business leaders, and experts are expressing their frustration about this all over the Internet. Mark J. Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, questions, “should U.S. taxpayers really be providing billions of dollars to bailout companies that compensate their workers 52.5% more than the market (assuming Toyota wages and benefits are market), 54% more than management and professional workers, 132% more than the average manufacturing wage, and 157% more than the average compensation of all American workers?” However, many still concede to the bailout because they feel it is the only feasible option, and claim that the effects of a bankrupt auto industry would cost more to taxpayers then a bailout would.
Pro 2: Recession Woes
While most are already feeling the effects of a recession on their wallets and gas tanks, it could be a lot worse if something else “big” happens. Some experts feel not bailing out the big three could result in a much deeper and more severe recession then we are already in. With thousands of jobs connected to the auto companies and stocks across the board, their downfall could have a large effect on our economy.
Con 2: Bankruptcy
One of the only other options for GM and the rest of the big three is to file bankruptcy under chapter 11. It is true that we have already assisted these companies financially this year and it helped them for few months. For this reason, some economists feel another bailout would just be like bailing out a sinking ship that is going to sink no matter what we do. Bankruptcy however, could be their only salvation, and many experts claim that it could be their best option. Michael Levine of the Wall Street Journal claims, “the cost of terminating dealers is only a fraction of what it would cost to rebuild GM to become a company sized and marketed appropriately for its market share. Contracts would have to be bought out. The company would have to shed many of its fixed obligations. Some obligations will be impossible to cut by voluntary agreement. GM will run out of cash and out of time.”
Pro 3: Chrysler Bailout
As history tends to repeat itself, I think it important to consider the Chrysler bailout of 1979. In the mid 70's while our country was going through a gas crisis, Chrysler refused to stop making their biggest most gas guzzling luxury cars. This mistake led them to requesting a bailout in late ‘79. However, to the surprise of the watching country, Chrysler came out with the "K-car" that sold like hot cakes and pulled the company out of a financial crisis. Chrysler then paid off their debt to the government 7 years early, and the government made over $660 million in profit from the bailout when all was said and done. Many people claim that if given another bailout, the auto companies could pull themselves out from near bankruptcy, and the federal government could generate revenue as well.
Con 3: Private Jet-setting
Unfortunately, when the CEO's of the big three traveled to Washington D.C. to request billions from taxpayers early this week, all three CEO's took private jets with round trip travel costs totaling of over $40,000 per CEO. This ostentatious show of wealth was considered highly disrespectful to the taxpayers about to consider bailing them out and created tons of bad publicity for the potential bailout. If companies are going to get taxpayer’s money, then we need to know that they are being frugal with it.