From The Obama Press Conference

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
from the obama press conference

(Via AP/Google)

Deb Price, Detroit News: Thank you, Mr. President. On the domestic auto industry, have you determined that bankruptcy is the only option to restructure Chrysler? And do you believe that the deep cuts in plant closings that were outlined this week by General Motors are sufficient?

OBAMA: Let me speak to Chrysler first because the clock is ticking on Chrysler coming up with a plan. I am actually very hopeful, more hopeful than I was 30 days ago, that we can see a resolution that maintains a viable Chrysler auto company out there.

What we’ve seen is the unions have made enormous sacrifices on top of sacrifices that they had previously made. You’ve now seen the major debt holders come up with a set of potential concessions that they can live with.

All of that promises the possibility that you can get a Fiat-Chrysler merger and that you have an ongoing concern. The details have not yet been finalized, so I don’t want to jump the gun. But I am feeling more optimistic than I was about the possibilities of that getting done.

With respect to GM, we’re going to have another 30 days. They’re still in the process of presenting us with their plans. But I’ve always said that GM has a lot of good product there, and if they can get through these difficult times and engage in some of the very difficult choices that they’ve already made, that they can emerge a strong, competitive, viable company.

And that’s my goal in this whole process. I would love to get the US government out of the auto business as quickly as possible. We have a circumstance in which a bad recession compounded some great weaknesses already in the auto industry.

And it was my obligation and continues to be my obligation to make sure that any taxpayer dollars that are in place to support the auto industry are aimed not at short-term fixes that continue these companies as wards of the state, but rather institutes the kind of restructuring that allows them to be strongly competitive in the future. I think we’re moving in that direction.

Last point, you asked about Chrysler bankruptcy. It was the prudent and appropriate thing for Chrysler to do to engage in the filings that received some notice a while back because they had to prepare for possible contingencies.

It’s not clear that they’re going to have to use it. The fact that the major debt-holders appear ready to make concessions means that even if they ended up having to go through some sort of bankruptcy, it would be a very quick type of bankruptcy and they could continue operating and emerge on the other side in a much stronger position.

So my goal is to make sure that we’ve got a strong, viable, competitive auto industry. I think some tough choices are being made. There’s no denying that there’s significant hardship involved, particularly for the workers and the families in these communities.

And we’re going to be coming behind whatever plan is in place to make sure that the federal government is providing as much assistance as we have to ensure that people are landing back on their feet, even as we strengthen these core businesses.

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  • Rod Panhard Rod Panhard on Apr 30, 2009

    If Chrysler survives today, and Fiat becomes a partner, and the whole shebang lasts long enough that UAW workers build Fiats on US soil, and somebody other than a Fiat/Chrysler/UAW worker actually buys one of these cars, then I'll eat my motorcycle helmet. By the way, I'd like to point out that if the deal works, then the name of the company should follow the tradition of naming the partners in an acronym. That would be Fiat/UAW/Chrysler/Democratic Party motors. or FUC'D for short.

  • MikeInCanada MikeInCanada on Apr 30, 2009
    I don't know why everyone is backhandedly cheering UAW's ownership of Chrysler. If (and when) they run it back into the ground rest assured that the Gov't will step back in and give them even more money. Chrysler has become just another Federal Entitlement plan with an annual bill in the $ Billions.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.
  • Wjtinfwb I've seen worse on the highways around Atlanta, usually with a refrigerator or washer wedged into the trunk and secured with recycled twine...
  • Wjtinfwb Surprising EB Flex hasn't weighed in yet on it being the subject of a recall...