“For 5 hours and 40 minutes” Thursday, “Detroit’s most powerful men” gave us a show "as riveting as anything I’ve ever seen on C-SPAN,” said Tom Walsh in the Detroit Free Press. The CEOs of GM, Ford, and Chrysler were asking the Senate for up to $34 billion to “keep Detroit’s automakers alive,” and they “were aiming to please.” No suggestion—including naming “an auto czar of sorts” or a shotgun marriage between GM and Chrysler—was met with a “no.”
Given that “Americans generally remain unsympathetic” to a bailout, said the San Jose Mercury News in an editorial, contrition was certainly called for. But letting the automakers fail would cost the U.S. much more than $34 billion, so “something has to be done.”
Well, “by the end of the nearly six-hour hearing, you could already see the outlines of a deal emerging,” said Mike Madden in Salon. The automakers look to get “at least some of the money,” along with “a lot of federal monitoring to make sure they’re not wasting it,” and all parties will assess the situation next year. And that’s great, if Congress can hammer it into legislation “before Detroit goes under” this month.
“Congress should ask for more” from the CEOs, said The New York Times in an editorial, with the most important demand being “their letters of resignation.” Their turnaround plans are actually “fairly credible,” but believing that the current top management can implement them—and make more fuel-efficient cars—isn’t.
Wall Street, once “best of friends” with the automakers, now “thinks Detroit is dead,” and Congress should take heed, said David Weidner in MarketWatch. The Big Three are in Washington because banks won’t extend them financing, and if Wall Street no longer trusts an industry it has long depended on, “then the government should be even more skeptical.”