Big Three Auto Executives Push Senate for Bailout

by Brian Mooar

NBC News

Lame duck lawmakers in Washington are running out of time to pass a bailout for the U.S. auto industry.

Top executives testified again Wednesday on Capitol Hill, but the action is going on behind the scenes.

A handful of key Senators from both parties are trying to hammer out of a deal, but they admit the chances aren't looking good.
There isn't much disagreement that Detroit needs money, the question is where it will come from and how fast it can be delivered.
The big three automakers were back on Capitol Hill begging for 25 billion in loans to survive and getting an earful.

"My fear is that you're going to take this money and make the same stupid decisions you made for 25 years," Democratic Congressman Michael Capuano of Massachusetts, said.

The automakers say they're victims of the credit crisis just like foreign automakers.

At the port of Long Beach, a sea of unwanted imports shows that Americans just aren't buying.

"What exposes us to failure now is not our product lineup, nor our business plan nor our long-term strategy," General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner, said.

Of America's big three, Ford is faring best.

"We believe that the actions that we have taken over the past two years, that we have sufficient liquidity in the near term to make it through this economic recession if it doesn't get worse," Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally, said.

But these rival automakers are standing together.

"Given our common supplier base, the bankruptcy of any one automaker could threaten the viability of all automakers," Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, said.

"You're asking for a bridge loan. What does the other side of the bridge look like?" Asked Republican Congressman John Campbell of California.

"We hope to emerge leaner stronger more formidable on the other side," Robert Nardelli, said.

While the big three promised big changes the executives acknowledged they flew to Washington on private jets.

"Couldn't you all have downgraded to first class, or jet pooled or something to get here? It at least would have sent a message," Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York, said.

For the U.S. auto giants, a fight for government money to buy some time.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is playing down hopes for a breakthrough.