The First Draft, Dec. 8

December 8, 2008

Washington is focused on one issue this morning — how to stop the U.S. auto industry from driving off a cliff.
The Senate reconvenes on Monday, and congressional aides say it may consider as early as Tuesday legislation on a $15 billion deal to rescue America’s “Big Three” automakers from oblivion.
Democratic negotiators in Congress modified their draft proposal on Sunday, a congressional aide said, and planned to get it to the White House for consideration.
The New York Times and Washington Post reported that Democrats were considering creating an oversight board made up of five cabinet secretaries and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and led by an independent chairman or “car czar”.
The board would oversee the restructuring that the car giants have agreed to in exchange for the short-term loans. The Post said the board would develop broad restructuring goals for the companies but could not compel them to act.
Investors appeared confident on Monday that the automakers will be thrown a financial lifeline. Shares of General Motors shot up 22.5 percent to $5 before the bell, and Ford shares climbed 19.5 percent to $3.25.
U.S. stock index futures also rose on hopes that President-elect Barack Obama’s plan for major infrastructure investment will help get the economy back on its feet.  

Elsewhere in Washington, President George W. Bush will attend a Christmas reception for children at the White House before visiting the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Virginia.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

The older generation has left a terrible legacy for the young. In recent years we have seen the Riots in Greece and France. Students kill fellow students at school. The faces of terrorists and suicide bombers are increasingly the face of the young. What sense of desperation is it that leads the young people of this world to commit such horrific acts? Yet we burn up the planet in an effort to preserve capitalism and democracy. How will either exist when humans are no longer able to inhabit the planet in sufficient numbers? Our demise is not yet imminent. We can solve most of these problems by building a new society that lives in balance with our environment and leaves no brother or sister behind. It will require public direction, hard work and much sacrifice. All of us working to heal a planet carries a bargain. We just might heal ourselves.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Do you wonder what happened to ‘The customer is always right?’ Check advertising and marketing texts. They say consumers will buy what you tell them they want. Note the word is ‘consumer,’ not ‘customer.’

Product development is on the time-scale laid out by big oil, with lots of hype about what’s coming in ten to twenty years, to assure that’s when we think it should come, i.e. stall. We learned big oil could bully carmakers when electric cars were recalled and shredded.

The shocking conundrum for the business managers is that we want them to dump years of design and development already done, and paid for, for the intervening years. Everything in those texts, and their experience, indicates it just takes the right ad campaign to avoid the loss of the investment. Huh-uh, all of us already sure American automakers weren’t listening to us talked to a whole lot of people last summer. Lower gas prices aren’t going to change it became obvious we were considered ‘consumers.’

Dump it and put all those great engineers to work on what we want. The customer is always right.

Posted by Sharon | Report as abusive

Nice to see some plain talk about the degree of betrayal of the customer and our environment by the Auto companies.

Now they want billions for what? More fuel efficiency,,,,way too late, because the customer is tired of being sideswiped by fuel price spikes. Oh there will still be infernal combustion engines used in trains and semi trailers, but the comuting customers want electric, perhaps with battery compartments and generator compartments that will hereafter always be able to pack in more energy storage and cleaner reserve generation due to technological advances in ‘batteries’ and generators.

No more revving fuel eaters,,, maybe a simple diesel putt-putt in the background on a long trip,,,,a diesel burning natural gas or canola oil.

Sorry car companies, we dont want to turn your treadmill anymore for dealer profits from oil changes and spark plug replacements, but that is why GM axed the EVO, too much lobbying by the dealer network and Big Oil. Of course with the Bush crowd in control there is no way we could go off our oil addiction. A pox on all their houses !

Posted by JR | Report as abusive

PS, of course this is all laid at our politicians feet as well,,, a catastrophic failure of leadership and confirmation of lack of foresight and focus on their own careers and pensions. The name of the game is “be popular and survive another term” right?

Perhaps we need term limitations (one) so representatives can speak the truth without fear of alienating the power brokers and corporations?

We need leadership based on farsighted objectives, not whole governments forced to surf the waves of emergencies all the time because of intransigence from major players.

Posted by JR | Report as abusive

OK folks, lets stop the mindless BS. A 1953 two door Ford, 6cyl, standard shift with overdrive got 35 MPG. This car could be repaired easily. A engine top overhaul, rings and a valve job could be done at most all gas stations and it didn’t take a $5K computer to do it. So these cars could be re-newed easily by local help. This meant great savings as you replaced what wore out rather than the whole car. Do you have any idea how much oil/energy it takes to make a whole car rather than a few small parts? Plus it gave local people work! Cars from the 30s, 40ies and early 50ies were like this. Replace what wears out not the whole dam car and keep it simple stupid!! Make a car that fits the pattern of needed use that people can repair and keep for a long time and you will sell them like hotcakes. HERE IS YOUR PROBLEM SOLVED DETROIT if you got the guts.John

Posted by ginsengjohn | Report as abusive