automakers

As Congress debates legislation to help struggling automakers, many Americans say they are uneasy with the plan, arguing that while it may save jobs, it would reward companies for pursuing bad business practices. Some even question whether automakers will be viable, even with support.

“They need to restructure. If they get bailed out they are not going to do it,” said Eric Smith, a paint contractor interviewed in Chamblee, Georgia, on the outskirts of Atlanta.

U.S. automakers say federal aid is vital to their survival, and there could be devastating ramifications for the broader economy if the sector is not stabilized.

“This is an issue of the whole auto industry, if that becomes under severe pressure, the impact on the whole U.S. economy will be devastating,” GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said in an appearance on a NBC-affiliated television station in Detroit.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark says that a rescue of U.S. automakers is important both economically and for national security. In a New York Times opinion piece, Clark wrote that the U.S. auto industry has played an important role in successive military campaigns, from World War II to today, and its ability to continue to develop new technologies is imperative for national security.