The Big Three

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mark LaNeve, General Motors' vice president of sales, service and marketing, will discuss the GM turnaround proposal before Congress.


Mark LaNeve

Comments [121]


Let me get this right. You say that Obama is making contradictory demands on the auto companies because he wants them to be both profitable and environmentally friendly, and that such a policy is contradictory because the Auto companies NOW make most of their money off of SUV's.

That's like arguing that a crack cocaine dealer can't possibly make a living selling something legal because he makes too much money selling drugs.

While the Americans are going broke depending on SUV sales, their Japanese counter parts are whipping their you-know-whats selling cars that get 40 to 50 miles per gallon.

Don't encourage these guys to stick with their drug sales

Dec. 11 2008 08:39 PM

Let me get this right. You say that Obama is making contradictory demands on the auto companies because he wants them to be both profitable and environmentally friendly, and that such a policy is contradictory because the Auto companies NOW make most of their money off of SUV's.

That's like arguing that a crack cocaine dealer can't possibly make a living selling something legal because he makes too much money selling drugs.

While the Americans are going broke depending on SUV sales, their Japanese counter parts are whipping their you-know-whats selling cars that get 40 to 50 miles per gallon.

Don't encourage these guys to stick with their drug sales.

Dec. 11 2008 08:29 PM
RAS from Staten Island

The automakers should help each other by consolidating into one company. When they come to Washington for a loan, they should be upfront about what they are using for collateral in the case of a default.

Dec. 06 2008 05:47 AM
Tony from Brooklyn (born and raised 40+yrs) from Kensington

Here's an interesting idea to raise funds. Tax the heck out of gas for vehicles. When gas prices were high, people thought about getting rid of their Hummers and buying Hybrids. Now that gas is cheap again, it's the same olds, same old. Use the money to invest in mass transit and research better mileage vehicles. Gas for heating can remain low. No money for the auto industry unless there is a major shake up at the top. I like the idea of buying the company instead bailing them out.

Dec. 05 2008 09:50 PM
nikolai Katz from Manhattan

Why not tax gasoline and use proceeds to develop alternative fuel technologies.

European cars are more efficient out of necessity because gas is more expensive. Any bailout will create more of the same unless we address this underlying issue.


Dec. 05 2008 03:13 PM
Larry from New Jersey

Here is a link to an article that all the people who left comments should read.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby is in opposition to providing money to the Detroit big three, but it is OK for his state to give large aid packages to get the foreign auto builders to attract the business to his state. Please tell me how that is different?

Dec. 05 2008 11:31 AM
George Robinson from NYC

CORRECTION- A listener you aired this AM claimed that the Big Three don't make cars that are qualitatively as good as foreign manufacturers' cars.

This may have been true through the latter part of the 1980s, but at least since 1990 American cars are as good, or in some cases, superior to foreign made marques. I know from experience, since I now own four cars and have owned American and foreign brands.

In any case, the notion that foreign cars are without flaw is disproven by anyone - like myself - who visits the service departments of those foreign car dealerships.

Unfortunately, albeit understandably, many Americans have internalized the foreign brand loyalties they adopted decades ago when American manufactures did produce comparatively less impressive vehicles. It will take time to change this attitude, however
the American media, e.g., WNYC's Brian Lehrer, Leonard Lopate, et. al. can help the US economy and validate the JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY they claim for themselves by disseminating FACTS vs. unchallenged opinion offered by who-knows-who who happens to call in and receives air time from their screeners.

Finally, another FACT to digest, a la, "Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?":

By producing SUV's for the American (vs. European and Asian markets) the auto manufacturers were REACTING to market conditions (i.e., until approx. last spring an summer through very recently, the relatively inexpensive price of gasoline) and demand. My point: Many more Americans than already are adjusting to "green" living must become more aware of environmental and economic conditions and change their mindset and behavior and avoid purchasing energy inefficient and unnecessarily resource-depleting products from cosmetic containers to motor vehicles and houses.

Thank you for considering my concerns.

George J. Robinson
New York, New York

Dec. 05 2008 11:22 AM
Kathi from Manhattan

I love your show, but I had to turn it off at 10:27 today, couldn't take any more of the call-ins on LaNeve. I heard you say opinion is running 2 to 1 against the automakers, and your call-ins seemed to support that. Just when I was beginning to have a little more faith in America's collective intelligence after it came up "Barack Obama" (but then again, John McCain had lost his mind and Sarah Palin was his running mate). Gas shot up to $4 and caught us with our pants down and all of a sudden we're all sanctimonious about environmentally correct vehicles. It's sickening. We have had the automakers we deserved. We're all in this together, and we need to own our stuff, suck it up and save the Big 3 for reasons that should be painfully obvious. And, Brian, by the way, speak for yourself when you say "You don't like these companies." I have a 1998 Ford with 207,000 miles that still gets a solid 30 mpg and is a BLAST to drive. Sophia and others carping about "ugly" cars that are "in the shop all the time" are playing a destructive telephone game. But what do New Yorkers know about cars, anyway? :)

Dec. 05 2008 11:19 AM
FRED from NJ

The Federal Government should focus on stabilizing the public needs instead of bailing out companies. They should:
1. Guarantee the car warrantees of the big 3.
2. Let the companies go into bankruptcy
3. Assure a stable process to restructure the companies.

Americans will continue to buy cars. Hopefully, they will buy cars from a new American car company with better organization and labor contracts.
AMERICAN CAR WORKERS will find new jobs in the car industry because AMERICANS WILL ALWAYS BUY A NEW CAR. It just won't be GM, Ford, or Chrysler. But it may be Cadillac, or Saturn, or Jeep.

Dec. 05 2008 11:09 AM
John Hyden

One other condition if we are to bail out the Ameican Auto Manufacturers (Akin the thought of building cars we really want): MAKE QUALITY PRODUCTS!!!! For Example, Consumers Union presently gives higher reliabilty ratings to the Toyota Camary than to the Chrysler Sebring; to the Mazda Miata than to the Pontiac Solstice; to the Honda and Toyota minivans than to Chrysler's. So much for Mark L's comment on the American Autos being competitive with anyone.

Dec. 05 2008 11:05 AM
Michael Jacob from Brooklyn, NY

It is unfair to the "Big Three" auto makers, their employees and the entire American economy, the unenthusiatic and lackadasical posters of the congress towards the plight of these companies. Though, it may no doubt sounds like if it is a great favor that will be done to the auto makers if granted their finacial bail out requests, however, much of the facelift will be to the America Government for saving its major auto makers and, by extension, its auto industry from total comatose. On the social-economic angle, many job losses would have been prevented and the consequences of unemployment like social menaces, would have also been averted. Rhetorically, did you know that social crimes are curbed in the United States by governments of different levels providing social/welfare services like Food Stamp and Cash Assistance benefits? Did you imagine what would have happened if these services were non-existent or granted with prohibitive conditionalities?

The plight of the auto makers is not self inflicted. It is a result of an unprecedented global meltdown of undefined origin. The auto industry depends on customers that can access credit facilities to patronize them. The source of this facility is dried up creating illiquidity in the system, hence affecting the fortunes of the auto companies. If the government could provide bailout packages to
the financial services sector without much ado, understanding their driving force to the economy, it becomes even mmore compelling to provide more bailout or emergency relief packages to the manufaturing sectors like the auto industry which depend on liquidity in the system to operate.

Dec. 05 2008 10:58 AM
Richie Lin from nyc

Unfortunately the big three seems to hold the workers "hostage" in making the deal. Of course, we want to help the worker, but not the management. Bankruptcy is needed to restructure the companies. Their shareholders will deal with the change of the management and the direction of the company.

Dec. 05 2008 10:53 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

For people whom are comparing this bailout to the financial bailout… without the financial bailout (supposedly) no one would be able to get the loan to buy from the Big Three. This is not a cash economy. Now who thinks these industries are on par?

Dec. 05 2008 10:53 AM
Arlene Jennings

Bailout Ballpark

Dec. 05 2008 10:51 AM
Paul from Washington Heights

Bankruptcy is the answer. The big 3 will reorganize, cut costs, and resume building cars. They are not going to stop making cars in America. If they don't someone else here will.

And the fear that people won't buy from a bankrupt company is unwarranted. If they make competitive fuel-efficient cars, cheaply enough, people will buy them.

Dec. 05 2008 10:46 AM
Kai from NYC

I want people to think about this: Would any nation in the world willingly allow their entire auto industry be destroyed? Please let me know because I don't know of one.

Regardless of the foolish investments/business plan and poor quality/innefficient products that the Big Three have been making, they need to be filleted and trimmed by the US govt. to make them retool and become competitive and efficient. The entire industry will be smaller and Chrysler will fall, but they are just as important to the US work force as any investment bank who has received hundreds of billions with no plan presented.

This is an opportunity for the US to reshape its auto industry in a smart and effective way that needs to be done, yet can't be accomplished by the industry itself. To paraphrase Rahm Emmanuel, don't let this crisis opportunity go to waste.

Dec. 05 2008 10:45 AM
Annie Schussler from New Jersey

Would letting the three (why all three? How about two or one of them fall? Who bundled these guys together anyway?) mean that there's opportunity for a fourth car company? Sometimes you have to let something die in order to make room for something new. It's confounding to think that we cannot make an enviable and/or reliable car in this country that does not require its own oil tanker to run.

Dec. 05 2008 10:45 AM
dr. david from manhattan

It's a worlds gone mad. Why not cut the banks out of the housing loop all together? Fannie Mae could buy 30 million homes under stress and keep those families in those homes.

Refinance them to own in 50 years or more...

That's 30 million less families on the public dole next year.

dr david

Dec. 05 2008 10:44 AM
krlp from East Village

Richard's idea was a good one. Limited time only $5000 govt. sponsored coupons to be redeemed upon purchase of an American made car. This would subsidize the companies and the purchaser, stimulate demand and put the onus on the companies to provide products that the consumer wants. Rather than bail out the companies or give them a bridge loan, support the taxpayer (driver) while helping the company. Company would pay back a portion of the coupon (loan) to the govt. before they pay out dividends or bonuses.

Dec. 05 2008 10:42 AM
david from Manhattan

It's a world gone mad. Why not cut the banks out of the housing loop? Fannie Mae could buy 30 million homes under stress and not foreclose on any of them.

Keep 30 million famlies in their homes. That's 30 million less familie son the punloic dole next year.

dr david in manhattan

Dec. 05 2008 10:42 AM
H David Turner from Astoria

The caller who suggested givin out vouchers to the public for purchase of domestic vehicles is an excellent idea. That in itself will create more demand for manufacturing auto plants. The outsourcing of the auto industry in addition to others has contributed to our dismal economic climate. Bailouts are only postreactive measures. We need proactive econommic measures which will ensure that this mess doesnt happen.

Dec. 05 2008 10:41 AM
Michelle from Highland Falls

If the taxpayer could receive a buyer's credit ($5000 voucher was suggested by a caller) the situation becomes slightly more win-win. However, the buyer should only get the credit if purchasing an American car that meets specific emissions and MPG criteria (e.g., above 40 mpg). I am a current hybrid owner, and would be glad to buy an American made car if more options were available.

Dec. 05 2008 10:40 AM
Gina Plaitakis from New Jersey

I think we should bail out the big 3 but they have to have restrictions as to what can be done with their companies. They have to not only make green cars, but they have to be the leader in the industry. Why can't American auto makers be a leader in building electric cars or hydro cars or solar powered cars? We lead the world in rocket science and computer technology so we should combine technology with the auto industry and build cars that everyone wants including the Japanese! Regardless of the fact that gas prices are going down, they need to prepare for the future and not be dependent on gas anymore.

Dec. 05 2008 10:39 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Yeah! $5,000 dollar voucher-government guarantee of automotive service contracs-Chapter 11 won't seem so bad if it has the full faith and credit of the government. Hey, where are the rich patriots who see our system failing? Don't they care about their country? "We must think anew and act anew...we must DISENTHRALL ourselves, and, then, we will save our country."
As well, sponser tax abatements for ANY NEW AMERICAN HOME BASED MANUFACTURER OF ANY necessary to life product (not just financial services)-even a new car maker for a couple of years! And, of course, TOTAL HEALTH CARE and 6 weeks paid vacation (with a tax break if people educate themselves about GOVERNMENT-LEARN OTHER LANGUAGES-AND TRAVEL with their families to other places like the Europeans do. IT'S TIME FOR AMERICA TO TAKE OFF IT'S DIAPERS AND GROW!!!

Dec. 05 2008 10:38 AM
Dave Bristle from Mystic, CT

I've known for years that the Big Three were shooting themselves in the long run by developing and marketing huge SUVs while Toyota was developing and marketing hybrids... but at this moment, their failures could put us into a full-blown depression.

If they didn't have to be so polite, the CEOs could argue that a lack of GOVERNMENT oversight of the finanacial markets is largely to blame for the auto crisis. In other words, the guys sitting up high at the front of the room are also to blame. People would still want to buy gas-guzzlers if their economic situation weren't so tenuous, and if credit were readily available.

Chapter 11 is no answer--this is not like the airlines--nobody will buy a car from a "bankrupt" company. Anybody who believes otherwise doesn't understand the auto industry market.

By the way, is the "$5000 voucher" good on GM cars built in Korea and Mexico?? (It probably should be.)

Dec. 05 2008 10:37 AM
nrw from Manhattan

The voucher for American made cars is a good idea. But what exactly is an "American made" car? Would that include a BMW? There is a plant in Alabama. I think there is a Mercedes plant somewhere in South Carolina. The companies aren't American, but they are providing jobs and spending money here. My 1995 Ford has a Japanese engine. How do we decide what is really profiting America?

Dec. 05 2008 10:37 AM
Georgina Nicholl from Ann Arbor, MI

If the government choose to bail them out I will encourage everyone I know to boycott the big three. Personally, I will never buy one of their cars again.

Until they dissolve the union, nothing will ever change. The unions and poor business plans are directly responsible for the failure of the big three - if it was the economy then all car companies would be going out of business.

Dec. 05 2008 10:37 AM
Brian Harris from stuyvesant park

They are making the auto execs grovel for 3 days yet Rubin and Citi get their loan with minimal questioning. At least the auto execs have real jobs. Not blowing up a leveraged paper bubble.

Dec. 05 2008 10:36 AM
Anelise from DC

In Brazil Ford got enourmous amount of public money and enormous tax incentives to build the mentioned plants. The promise was to hire a lot of local people, but they did not, because they had robots to do everything. People believed in the industry but got disapointed when Ford only hired half a dozen people. I am Brazilian and I was there.
Great show.

Dec. 05 2008 10:36 AM
Bryan Lawrence from New Jersey

Why not make auto industry loans dependent on new CAFE standards of 50MPG by 2020 (or 2015)?

Dec. 05 2008 10:35 AM
hjs from 11211

what about the medium 11 instead?

Dec. 05 2008 10:35 AM
yourGo from Astoria

Great idea.!! Give the money to the people so they can buy American cars.. they should do that with the banks too.
Give the money to the people so they can pay their mortgages.
I hate how the Republicans have a problem with Socialism for the people but dont mind Corporate Socialism.
Republicans are unpatriotic hypocrites!!

Dec. 05 2008 10:35 AM


Dec. 05 2008 10:35 AM
roland brown from new york

The auto companies keep reiterating that it's not their fault that they build gas guzzlers. They're just giving the consumers what they want. They seem to be saying that if the consumers would just stop clamoring for SUVs, then the car makers could finally get around to making the fuel efficient vehicles that they really wanted to make all along. Nobody bought that argument from the tobacco industry, so why should we buy it from the auto industry?

Dec. 05 2008 10:35 AM
david gale from new jersey

As a GM dealer I of course see no other viable way out except for a bailout. If GM was to declare bankruptcy most of GM dealer's would be forced to also declare bankruptcy and eventually fold. This would result in few ,if any factory orders. End result plants shut down and GM is forced to go chapter 7 and liquidate. Based on polls it is apparent that the public does not understand the dire consquences of not bailing out Detroit. Just take the advertising world. We have cut our advertising to zero from $25,000 per month. Multiply that by 6000 GM dealers potentially and what do you have? Eventually employees of newspapers, radio and tv stations will suffer the consequences and join the unemployment lines. The public does not truly understand the complexity and what it takes to operate a dealership financially. A failure of the government not to offer assistance is a forumula for economic disaster in this country. Just today unemployment figures were announced. If one the the big three fail these figures will be three fold.

Dec. 05 2008 10:34 AM
Craig Urquhart from New York

$5000 vouchure

Dumb idea - I have never even owned a car in my life and I am 55.

Dec. 05 2008 10:34 AM
Donald Wade from Jackson Heights, Queens

Within the past year I bought a new mini-van and made the choice between a Chrysler and Toyota. The Toyota was 90% American parts and the Chrysler was just the opposite! So why are we talking about bailing out the defacto foreign manufacturer instead of the one which is actually American?

PS my Toyota mini-van also gets only marginally worse mpg than my 2001 compact Ford Focus which I bought as an "economy" car.

Dec. 05 2008 10:34 AM
johnjohn from New York

The tax rebate voucher for exclusively American made cars would be a violation of WTO trade laws.

Dec. 05 2008 10:33 AM
Erica from Brooklyn

I love the idea of giving redeemable vouchers to car buyers. It would ensure no business as usual and force the big three to look at and produce the types of cars American's really want.

Dec. 05 2008 10:33 AM
Bobby Sue from Bklyn

What a crock. We won't get on a hydrogen car until gas is 10 a gallon.

Dec. 05 2008 10:33 AM
G from Brooklyn

The question of whether accusations of treason can be leveled at legislators who are unwilling to support Detroit, perhaps because their states are home to U.S. operations of 'foreign' car companies is silly on its face.

For decades U.S. corporations have run roughshod over foreign governments and populations so that we Americans could live globally unsustainable lifestyles. I hate to say it, but maybe we're getting a taste of our own medicine. Let's smarten up, live with a smaller footprint, and strive to be self-sustainable.

The roots of this problem in this country also go back to the Supreme Court's 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific
Railroad decision which determined that corporations are persons. *That* is the root of all treasonous activity surrounding the current -- and all past -- financial crises. Corporations have the protections of legal personhood, but have managed to evade the responsibilities that we real persons bear.

Glad you're feeling better, Brian. Thanks for the great show, as always.

Dec. 05 2008 10:33 AM
Bill from Bklyn

If you could get some really long extension cords, you could plug in your car on short trips and keep feeding the wire out the window. Just go slower.

Dec. 05 2008 10:32 AM
Chris from Manhattan

I run a Lemon Law arbitration program in NY. Without American made cars this program would be finished. Almost every consumer interested in arbitration is complaining about an American made cars.

Dec. 05 2008 10:32 AM
cmb from Harlem

Seems like New Yorkers have more sympathy for the laid off I-bankers and begging the government to throw money at the banks. But when it comes to middle america and unionized factory workers, we're willing to throw them to the wolves. This double standard is disgusting.

Dec. 05 2008 10:32 AM
Pat from Towaco Nj

I think many of us are conflicted about the downfall of the American auto industry and their request (pleading) for a bailout. We don't want Detroit to go down the tubes but we want the car mfg'ers to get their just desserts. I listen to all the calls for more manufacturing in the US but how many of us want to live near a mfg facility? Time & time again facilities like that are shut out just from public outcry alone. Me, I think we should give them some of the $ in installments not one big lump sum. There are just too many jobs on the line. I mean, we're talking about 100,000's of jobs. That would be far more devastating to the economy.

Dec. 05 2008 10:32 AM
Alex from Queens

The problem is CARS! Autos are an inherently inefficient way to get around. We will always be dependent on foreign oil as long we are driving cars.

GM must go now. They are not part of the 21st century/

Dec. 05 2008 10:32 AM
Elizabeth from Tenafly, NJ

We should bail out the big three- the hourly workers and others "front-liners" shouldn't suffer. However, I think the heads of these companies should be replaced. The CEOs/CFOs/ etc were hired to do a job-make a product that would sell and help grow their corporations- and they failed to do it. These individuals should be replaced with other corporate heads who are more in touch with the realities of today's energy needs and less interested in lining their own pockets.

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM

How about set pricing so buying cars aren't intimidating? I guarantee if you make the process easier, sales will be much better. The whole car sector needs a complete makeover from management to the dealerships.

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM

How about set pricing so buying cars aren't intimidating? I guarantee if you make the process easier, sales will be much better. The whole car sector needs a complete makeover from management to the dealerships.

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM
thom evans from N. massapequa

there are no indicators that say this bailout will work. of course we need manufacutering, but not under the leadrship of these guys. if we the people step in, we need to remove the top and look to the people in the companies who are doing the innovating and put them in charge. remve the dead weight, these ceo's arent the ones doing the work.

also the foreign manufacturers didnt bet all their money on trucks/suv's, they had a diversity of products that they could rely on.

these guys are not qualified to fixit. no way.

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM
Nancy Dwyer Chapman from Scarsdale, NY

As a native-born Detroiter now transplanted to the East Coast, with a family member who works at GM, I follow the travails of the Big Three with great interest and concern, because I believe "the media" have their collective knives sharpened for going after the industries that I don't believe media really understands.

How is the mode of transportation that Messrs. Waggoner, Mulally and Nardelli took to Washington this week "disingenuous?" The media played a low form of "gotcha" for their using leased jets (which form of travel was mandated for security reasons in at least one or more of these CEOs employment contracts). so, they each use a forward-looking product from each company and drive to DC, and now the media criticizes again?

Take a look at Mitch Albom's November 26 Sunday Detroit Free Press column entitled "If I had the Floor at the Auto Hearings." It's on point and instructive.

I am appalled at the short-sightedness of some members of the Congress, many pundits, and all too many of your callers. They have no NO idea of the implications of a failure of the Big Three for our economy. As an economist testified yesterday in the Senate - the negative repercussions would be stupendous.


Nancy Dwyer Chapman

Intellectual Property Law since 1923
One Chase Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583
tel.: +1-914-723-4300
direct telephone: +1-914-723-7930
fax: +1-914-723-4301

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM
martha bragin from Brooklyn

Bail them out! BUT... insist on co-ownership by the UAW and its members! They stink! But... the UAW is an important part of the US workforce.. let's save union labor,lets bring back the City of Detroit!

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM
Noah from Crown Heights

If government regulation is what it takes to make this economy work then we must dispatch the executives of companies like the banks and the car companies and replace them with people who no longer subscribe to their neoliberal ideology. If they want a bailout then they must recognize that their model has failed!

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM
Richard from Bedford, New York

I would like to hear the Auto Executives support a fuel tax to pay for the bail out. This would support a continuation of fuel economy even as the cost of fuel remains low.

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM
Mark from NYC

I would agree to a bail out only if the upper management were to be fired and replaced.

Dec. 05 2008 10:31 AM
josh levine

If taxpayers are going to give them billions -- I suggest we require their CEOs to fly only American made private jets.

Currently their jets are Canadian made.

Dec. 05 2008 10:30 AM
Lisa from Bklyn

I wrote in about 109 times in teh last yr to WNYC that you should do shows and segments on hydrogen cars. You what the response has been? Zilch.

Dec. 05 2008 10:30 AM
courtney from lower manhattan

let them fail. eventually something better and more efficient will come along to take their place. if they die out, demand for the next wave of truly progressive technology will follow shortly behind, making room for a new, American-built car industry.

Dec. 05 2008 10:30 AM
Bill Israel from Dix Hills, NY

The GM spokesman made an important point-when the price of gas is low, large vehicles will sell.

Without an energy policy that encourages alternative fuels, any monies spent on the rescue of the automakers will be throwing good money after bad. Their roll out of electric vehicles, hybrids and smaller vehicles will not rescue the companies if the demand shifts back to larger vehicles due to low gas prices.

What Tom Friedman wrote in an article-an energy tax to keep gas at a minimum of $4.00 will go a long way towards alternative fuels.

Dec. 05 2008 10:30 AM



Dec. 05 2008 10:30 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Contrary to the last caller’s claim… The Big Three make nothing but automobiles. They do not make a single long-haul truck, diesel locomotive, airplane, Armed Forces combat vehicle, nor ship, sub, or tug.

And Americans will buy whatever the hell you tell them to buy. Heavily advertise SUVs and they will sell. Tell parents their babies will die unless they have a minivan, they will sell. Tell tired old men they need a 400HP V8 and a little blue pill to be happy and they will sell. The same way Americans bought pet rocks, bellbottoms, leggings, and Furby Americans will buy whatever’s on the radio, tube, and subway wall.

Dec. 05 2008 10:30 AM
Jim Franco from New York City

Let them draw straws--in front of congress and before a national TV audience--and the company that pulls the short straw gets NO bailout and the other two get some sort of monies with strings attached.

We don't need nor have the demand for the three big automakers.

Dec. 05 2008 10:29 AM
michaelw from INWOOD

Let these guys go the way of the dinosaur because they are just that dinosaurs.

As far as helping out OBAMA??? please give me a brake.

These guys produced garbage cars and now want my tax money. NO NO.

Oh people want SUVs?

How about making SUVs that get 50 to 100 miles to the gallon. It's possible and could have been done.

America lacks the innovation and expertise in manufacturing anything worth owning.

They are all liars Paulson, Congress, Senate and YES the second coming OBAMA.

Dec. 05 2008 10:29 AM
Chris Baratta from Upper West Side

Hydrogen cars! Why don't we have them?!?! I am okay with helping the big 3 as long as we are retooling for 2012, not 2005.

The one true point that conservatives make regarding the sales of SUVs over the past 2 decades is that they were fueled by Americans desire for large cars.

I say, we can have our cake and eat it too. What about a Hydrogen powered hummer? AND they get more horsepower.

The problem is only Honda and BMW have viable models.

The solution? Investment in hydrogen refueling stations by the federal government, along with the capital for the Big 3 to allow the industry to retool their factories to make hydrogen engines. Then after 5 years every car sold in our country could run on the water that falls from the sky (what a turn THAT would be for the Middle Eastern economies).

Dec. 05 2008 10:28 AM
Gerard R. from NYC Metro

Your question of motivation for southern legislators *is* important. Please press it.

I still think that what Congress wants, help for the automakers out of the 700 billion, is the best option. Cannot Fed/Treasury shore up the Big3's financial units out of that $700B, and then have *those* units loan the necessary survival funds to their parents.

I also think that Big3 management should be flushed, probably the top 3 layers, but the question then is "who are the replacements?".

Dec. 05 2008 10:28 AM
steve from hoboken, nj

Given that bankruptcy is essentially a form of bailout, albeit involuntary, by the creditors of the company, I think the government bailout, which spreads the pain more evenly, is the way to go.

Dec. 05 2008 10:28 AM
Ben from Manhattan

While the Big 3 certainly deserve their share of criticism, it seems to me that the bigger issue is this: coming to Washington with hat-in-hand once again gives the lie to the "Free-Marketeers". Why are large corporations allowed to run roughshod over the environment, human rights and good governance when times are good (and claim that the free market justifies their actions), then come crawling to Washington for salvation when the bottom drops out?

Dec. 05 2008 10:28 AM
Pete Diamond from NYC

Why don't we cast our lot with "Foreign" automakers instead of throwing money at less successful companies? Is there really any economic difference to the U.S.? They will be more successful at creating more jobs here.

Dec. 05 2008 10:27 AM
antonio from park slope

We should give the money to tesla motors because they are way ahead of the curve, they just need $$$!

Dec. 05 2008 10:27 AM
susy from manhattan

If there is a loan given, the top leadership of each of these companies should go-- in favor of professionals and executives who will be more forward looking, and more in line with future growth and protection for the lower and mid-level workers.

Dec. 05 2008 10:27 AM
Phoebe from NJ

Let's add $3/gallon tax. This will drive mileage efficiency and make these cars desireable - idea fleshed out in Friedman's book.

Dec. 05 2008 10:27 AM
soren from manhattan

I'm so tired of hearing from Corporate VPs, glorified PR men, pretending to be interested in fuel efficiency, accountability, universal health care (!), suddenly years (DECADES even) after the fact. We'll all see in a decade that this was all lip service like it always is. Sorry, it's over. You made the worst cars, the wrong decisions and this is all too little too late. Spare us your sudden desire for us to be more like Europe and Japan!

Dec. 05 2008 10:27 AM
seth from Long Island

Bashing the auto execs is childish and counter-productive. Brian Lehrer and his listeners and millions of other Americans need to stop with the silly insults and grow up. Of course, auto execs made crucial mistakes which account in large part for the dire situation they currently face.

On the other hand, this nation can't afford to have one of its most impt industries simply go down the drain. It's time for Congress bail out the auto companies.

Dec. 05 2008 10:26 AM
Jen from Brooklyn

I hate to admit it but he had a point. US auto companies face two problems that auto companies in other countries (such as Japan) don't face: (1) pension costs and (2) an economy where consumption is based on credit.

The real problem isn't only US auto companies' mismanagement (a bailout should happen only if there is new management). In 2003, GM made over 60% of their revenues on financing revenues. The whole system of buying on credit in the US (which in turn is because workers and families don't make and keep enough money for our work) is unsustainable.

Dec. 05 2008 10:25 AM
Richy from Manhattan

I'm not convinced. But I do wish that the CEOs when they were blamed (justifiably) for first flying to DC in their private jets... I wish that they had turned around and asked, "Senators, how many times have you flown in private jets this year?"

Dec. 05 2008 10:25 AM
rylee from nyc

We are seeing the "sea change" of globalization coming home to roost. No amount of shoring up and protectionism will help. The problem is people/organizations do not change until they are forced to UNLESS there is visionary leadership which directs the changes needed. The folks in charge are dinosaurs embedded in an old economic model. The house does not need renovation, it's a tear down.

Dec. 05 2008 10:25 AM
Wick Branford from Hartford, CT

DISINGENOUS??? You know who's disingenous? Media types who focus on that they arrived in airplanes. Like that's an issue. These are multimillionaire CEO's. It makes a difference to you HOW they arrived? Okay, so they walk in from Michigan. NOW you like them? Give me a break.
You want to pretend to hate them, but bottom line, they are the stewards of the American economy in a large part, if they fail, you're going to pay, big time. Let's cut out YOUR disingenousness.

Dec. 05 2008 10:25 AM
KC from NYC

Meryl, the Big Three have been preying on patriotism as a sales pitch for decades. It's cynical, and it's depressing that it still works on people like you.

Dec. 05 2008 10:25 AM
Lee from Brooklyn

ok with bailout, but let's elect 3 new CEOs

Dec. 05 2008 10:24 AM
Kian Goh from NYC

I feel for the thousands of employees, but we should not be bailing out companies that make products that no one needs or wants or should have. Michael Moore has a good point when he says the Gov should buy the companies and have them build buses, trains, and subways.

Dec. 05 2008 10:24 AM
Stephen from Brooklyn

Bailout municipalities and states before private industry. States and Cities are business entities unto themselves and their health is essential to the safety nets and economic vibrancy of its inhabitants. I am sick of the same corporations who cry for de-regulation and then run home to mommy and daddy every time they get in trouble.This included airlines, banking and auto industry.

It will be hard, but it is time to re-tool. Maybe the auto-workers can be trained to build and install sustainable energy technologies.

Dec. 05 2008 10:23 AM
Sue in Astoria from Long Island City/Astoria

My first suggestion is that the Big 3 should ask Big Oil for bail out, bridge loan, whatever. Otherwise this taxpayer likes comment # 18 - let the workers own and run the companies. (Maybe it is time the taxpayers started asking for their money back. I'm serious...every damn penny.)

Dec. 05 2008 10:23 AM
J from New York City

I don't like it, but they employ too many people.

Dec. 05 2008 10:23 AM
Robert from NYC

Why don't be make computers!!!

Dec. 05 2008 10:23 AM
Pamela from Long Island City

Thanks Brian for asking about universal health coverage. It was a good question and I wish Mark LeNeve had answered it. I don't think this question should go away and I hope it doesn't. If so much of the Big 3 auto makers' costs has to do with health benefits then why bail out just the Big 3 to provide health insurance for a small segment of the population? Why not use that money so that health insurance no longer has to be provided by the employer? Thanks for asking it Brian!

Dec. 05 2008 10:23 AM
James from Brooklyn

Treason? That's a little harsh I think. I know you're trying to provoke, but couldn't you say "economic treason"? I get the idea, but I'm just having flashbacks to the Republicans throwing down the "T" word every time the Dems questioned their policies such as the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, etc.

Dec. 05 2008 10:22 AM
Nancy from Manhattan

Although I'm furious at the Big 3 for ceding the market for small, fuel-efficient cars to the foreign auto makers for (really) the past 3 decades (since the 70s gas crisis), we MUST loan the American auto makers the money to stay afloat. It's a simple matter of domestic security -- we need manufacturing capability in this country. Plus, it's the auto workers who will suffer if we don't loan the money, and the workers who depend on the American auto industry for their jobs. We must make these LOANS (not a bail-out).

Dec. 05 2008 10:22 AM
susy from manhattan

Yes-- if *this* is their 'sales and marketing expert'... that just says it all.

He should be able to make his case in 30 seconds flat...not get flustered and defensive.

not a penny. we should find another way to look forward which doesn't involve subsidizing companies who consistently failed to be proactive across all fronts.

Dec. 05 2008 10:21 AM
Rob Foran from Staten Island NYC NY

If the big three are talking to Congress like Mr. LaNeve is talking to Brian Lehrer, I wouldn't blame Congress for letting them hang rather than giving them a check.

I don't hear the questions being answered appropriately and truthfully. I do hear that its the economy's fault, among other boogeymen.

Businesses fail because of poor management. Period. Give them the loans but only under the strictest of conditions.

Dec. 05 2008 10:20 AM
Robert from NYC

NO!! And tell them to get off the idea of paying higher taxes for universal healthcare. Well YES you will pay them BUT you won't have pay the exorbitant healthcare payments for each and every service you have whether it be a hospital stay, surgery, even office visit, there is a co-pay and there are deductible fees, procedures and treatments that aren't covered, etc. All these fees would be eliminated AND the tax although high would not be anywhere near the amount we pay in healthcare fees. Wake up America!! Remember Dennis Kucinich, "Wake up America!"

Dec. 05 2008 10:20 AM
KC from NYC

Good questions, Brian. This guy is dismayingly elusive. These companies should be bailed out, then everyone in charge should be fired. These could be great companies making great products, they just have to be re-taken from greedy incompetents like Mark LaNeve.

Dec. 05 2008 10:19 AM
Crazy Person

Hey, I'm sold, here's the $35 Billion!

Dec. 05 2008 10:18 AM
Cliff from NYC

Not a damn dime. They are so myopic, they still think they'll be selling into a growing market in the future. Bunk. They haven't learned a thing since the Chrysler bail out in 1979.

Guaranty the superpreferred loan to the DIP (debtor in possession) so that the assets get redeployed but not a dime otherwise.

As for the workers, the truth is that they've extorted too much for their services for decades. Free them into the marketplace ASAP instead of delaying the inevitable by "bridging" with a loan that can't be reasonably repaid.

Dec. 05 2008 10:18 AM
anna from nyc


Dec. 05 2008 10:18 AM
John-Paul G from Elizabeth, NJ

Why is this guy screaming at Brian?

Dec. 05 2008 10:18 AM
Phoebe from NJ

If the business entirely runs on credit, it was never really viable anyway?

Dec. 05 2008 10:18 AM
Lise (pronounced "Lisa") from Manhattan

I was born in the 1950s. In the 1960s I learned that fossil fuels were nonrenewing and would need to be replaced as an energy source.

Why is Detroit unable to be educated about the planet and what is, and is not, sustainable?

Dec. 05 2008 10:18 AM

Before we give them any money I would like to see these executives sell their houses and villas, private jets, country club memberships, etc to pay back all the money that their arrogant incompetence cost their companies. Then fire them and find people that will be able to build competitive and GOOD products.

Personally, let them file bankruptcy, We can't do that because they have competition? Please, since when they cared about it? If they did, they would have stopped producing crap a long time ago.

Let them fail and let the people who know how to make good cars take over. Toyota, Honda, BMW, they have enough plants here to absorb the workers that will lose their jobs.

BTW, instead of making his case, this guest has done nothing more than to convince me that we should not give a penny to these arrogant incompetent dudes. This individual is yelling at Brian! Pretty bad attitude to have when you are a begging.

Dec. 05 2008 10:17 AM
NWP from Greenwich

All big business operates on credit. Why is that? The profits they were earning were paid out to the stockholders as dividends. THAT is what inflates the stock price. The increased stock price maximizes the bonuses of the executives. Why keep profits to invest in the future when there is no benefit to the manager.

Since the stockholder GOT the money their loss should now be the outcome. The FED should run the big three and let the taxpayer have FULL ownership. Management should be paid only on long term results.

Dec. 05 2008 10:17 AM
Samuel from NYC

In one hand is the US Government.
In the other is the US car industry.
Both these hands are in the pocket of the oil industry.
What makes anyone think that by bailing out the big three with our money anything good will come out of it.

Dec. 05 2008 10:16 AM
anonyme from nyc

Oh, please! Stop whining!!! You have had decades to compete - look at how well those cars are made in Korea and Japan (and Germany) why should we support your inferior products! You haven't listened to the needs of the market and I don't trust you will.

Dec. 05 2008 10:16 AM
Phoebe from NJ

Boo hoo. Cry me a river. Other companies in the US have healthcare obligations, too.

Dec. 05 2008 10:14 AM
Mary Bon

Give the money to the UAW to invest in the auto companies and become majority shareholders.

Pre-owned private jet, anyone?

Dec. 05 2008 10:14 AM
Mary Bon

Give the money to the UAW to invest in the auto companies and become majority shareholders.

Pre-owned private jet, anyone?

Dec. 05 2008 10:14 AM
susy from manhattan

1. Product not innovative.
2. No concern for the environment.
3. Failure to do their homework over the past 20 years.


Dec. 05 2008 10:14 AM
Phoebe from NJ

Go home and quit whining. Ford makes excellent cars in Europe which sell there (60+mgp Fiesta) which they won't sell here. Why?

Dec. 05 2008 10:13 AM
keith lovinggood from the bronx

please ask general motors if they still have annual "meeting" at the mandarin oriental nyc complete with massages

Dec. 05 2008 10:13 AM
Bobby G from East Village

Congress is in no position to be self-righteous. They abetted this mess by caving on increasing milage standards and allowing the SUV exception on the measly milage standards that did exist.

What is needed now is to do what is necessary to save two million jobs.

Dec. 05 2008 10:13 AM
carlos from brooklyn

What about the pay gap between factory workers and CEO?

Dec. 05 2008 10:12 AM
Anne from Manhattan

Oh wahhh, poor babies... A victim of the economy.

In case you haven't looked out your window lately.. we are ALL victims of the current economic crisis. I don't understand why we would bail out autos and not the other million people who lost their jobs this year.

And what about a bail out for print publishing? My company just laid off a LOT of very talented and experienced people. Gone. And they won't be able to find jobs in this market. What about them?

Dec. 05 2008 10:12 AM
Chuck from Brooklyn

These guys killed the electric car. They are not worth our trust or money.

No forethought.

Dec. 05 2008 10:12 AM

Getting yelled at by some hung over official adorned with hair plugs and a fake tan?

Is that congressional punishment -- or theatre of the absurd?

Dec. 05 2008 10:10 AM
Chuck from Brooklyn

The Country should just buy them if they are thinking about giving them any money. It would be less than their market cap.

It's fantastic, they have been making terrible cars for the last 25 years. They have got what they deserve.

They should have built useful cars like Toyota.

Listening to these guys is hilarious. They have no idea with their jets and token electric cars.

They have made their bed. Not enough people want their cars. That's it.

Chapter 11 for them.

Dec. 05 2008 10:09 AM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

Brian - please ask your guest why GM killed off the EV-1. Most who leased them loved them, yet GM crushed all the cars and destroyed the tooling. Why?

Dec. 05 2008 10:08 AM
anonyme from nyc

I agree with #1. Why should we give our money to those arrogant people living in a big bubble at our expense! We should nationalize them and hire people from Korea and Japan to re-order them. Or even Germans. It is mismanagement and we ahve to stop rewarding it. We also have to figure out how to help all the people in the non-executive parts of the industry survive the colossal (criminal?) irresponsibility of the parasites at the top.

Dec. 05 2008 10:06 AM
Steve from Brooklyn

Please ask him what he thinks of the fundamental problem for the American automakers in that they make inferior products.
I'm a 37-year-old American and from what I've learned about American cars over my lifetime, I would never even consider a GM, Ford or Chrylser-made car.

Dec. 05 2008 10:06 AM
Phoebe from NJ

Let them fail... The "Big 3" were only interested in SUVs and Truck sales, and their new-found green credentials are 10 years too late. They don't deserve a dime of my taxes, and their only future is to win my business.

Dec. 05 2008 10:04 AM
David from Boston

It would be amazing to see GM refocused as a small and effective leader in alternative energy automobiles; I mean really pouring all of its core competancy into that effort. R&D yes, but production as well. GM could morph into an industry leader. But I don't know if current management has the vision for that. If they went bankrupt it would be a huge loss of all of engineering and manufacturing knowledge. It would survive in individulas but be lost as an organizational entity.

I have no sympathy for the plight of the auto makers, but they are certainly being harshly treated in comparison to the banks and AIG. What a free ride the banks get!! They're getting 10x the money that the car makers want and they get it with basically no strings. The rich are always ever more priviledged.

Dec. 05 2008 10:01 AM

Fellas, I wouldn't try this little ruse in China.

The de-smirking devices applied to senior executives who've done what you've done with state funds are shockingly effective.

Dec. 05 2008 09:52 AM
Eric from B'klyn

Why not buy GM [its market cap is about $3B currently] and Chrysler...? And run it as a "social business", a concept which economics Professor and Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus has developed; and that Harvard Business School is developing [].
Admittedly, GM would become the largest example, but many 'experts' ie Paul Krugman are saying we need new ideas and approaches; ie, the very successful Grameen Bank is run as a social business. If you are interested in this concept, read Yunus' "Creating a World without Poverty"

Dec. 05 2008 09:49 AM
Cory from Planet Earth

The big three want $34 billion. Although Chrysler is private (Cerberus would certainly give it away to get it off its balance sheet), the market cap for GM and Ford is certainly less than $6 billion. The government should simply buy them and then figure out how to straighten them out. It would be cheaper. Even the Post Office couldn't do a worse job of running them than their current management.

Dec. 05 2008 08:08 AM

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