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GM's Wagoner: He'll Get What He Needs From Washington

Rick Wagoner
AP
Rick Wagoner

Now comes the big sell. The point where GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner lobbies the Treasury Secretary and Washington leaders for federal money to back a merger of GM and Chrysler. No CEO likes to ask for Federal aid. But this is not the big pressure cooker facing Wagoner.

Let me spare you from wondering if Wagoner will get the $5—$10 billion in federal loans he is seeking. He'll get it. And while lawmakers will publicly proclaim everything must be done to limit the loss of jobs caused by a merger, they know thousands will lose their jobs and there's not much that can be done.

Washington doesn't have much of a choice but to give GM the money. If it doesn't, there is a very real possibility Chrysler and GM slide toward bankruptcy. That ultimately would be even worse than spending $5-10 billion now and hoping GM can Save some of Chrysler's 44,000 workers. It's the only play Washington has.

So in many ways, Wagoner's personal push for loans is not a tough sell. He'll get the money and once he does, then the real pressure starts. Then he and his top lieutenants will have to move quickly to integrate Chrysler.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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