It's hard to say if the Big 3 CEOs blew it on Capitol Hill, but it certainly wasn't the best couple of days. While Rick Wagoner, Alan Mulally, and Bob Nardelli all gave legitimate answers and tried their best to spell out just how important a $25 Billion loan is to their survival, their hearings did not turn out well.
• Saying they need $25 Billion, but not wanting it to be the $25 Billion already earmarked for re-tooling and future vehicle's comes off as if the auto makers are looking a gift horse in mouth. Yes, I understand they want the money for re-tooling, but right now the priority is getting money NOW.
• Being unable to tell law makers exactly what their game plan is for restructuring their business' in the future gave the impression Detroit is NOT changing. I and others who cover Big 3 know that's not true. So why not tell lawyers, candidly, that costs will be stripped down by a certain percentage?
• Flying to D.C. on private jets was a pr blunder somebody should have seen coming. I have said on CNBC, and fervently believe, private jets are an essential tool for these CEOs. They shouldn't give up those jets, but flying in them to ask for $25 Billion (while warning that cash is running low) makes the group look arrogant.
• Not doing a better job of selling Congress on the need for a bailout hurts the chances they will get what they want. For two weeks leading up this hearing, the auto industry failed to effectively tell the broader public exactly how a GM bankruptcy will bring down suppliers, auto related companies, and hit the economy square in the gut.
- GMAC Seeks Bailout Money in Bid to Become Bank
I still believe Congress will wind up giving the Big 3 the money tapped for re-tooling/green vehicles, but with those stipulations stripped out. It will get the group through this immediate crisis and provide them with at least a bridge to operating next spring.
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