Obama: Auto Bailout ‘Necessary’

Dec 19, 2008 4:17pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller Reports:

In his fifth Chicago press conference in as many days, President-elect Obama addressed the auto bailout by the White House this morning in his opening remarks, calling the move "necessary" to avoid devastating consequences to the economy.

"With the short-term assistance provided by this package, the auto companies must bring all their stakeholders together, including labor, dealers, creditors and suppliers, to make the hard choices necessary to achieve long-term viability," Obama said.  "The auto companies must not squander this chance to reform bad management practices and begin the long-term restructuring that is absolutely necessary to save this critical industry and the millions of American jobs that depend on it, while also creating the fuel efficient cars of tomorrow."

Obama was if he has plans to change the terms of the automakers’ loans when he takes office – as groups such as the United Auto Workers are already upset over some of the provisions that apply to workers.

Obama started to note that "inch by inch” progress that had been made to protect auto workers since the initial proposals from the auto-workers asked for just a blank check.

Obama then was quick to confess that he has not seen the details of the auto bailout yet this morning, and would not comment about his plans for changing it.

“Since the White House just made the announcement this morning, I have not had an opportunity, nor has my economic team, to look at all the details of the plan.  So I wouldn’t want to comment about what changes I would want to  make before I’ve even seen what’s already on the table.”

Obama warned the Big Three they are going to have to take some "painful steps" here on out.

"I do want to emphasize to the Big Three auto makers and their executives that the American people’s patience is running out and that they should seize on this opportunity over the next several weeks and months to come up with a plan that is sustainable.  And that means that they’re going to have to make some hard choices."

Obama said his intention is to have his economic team work with auto management and the UAW to protect jobs in the long-term.

"I just want to make sure that when we see a final restructuring package, that it’s not just workers who are bearing the brunt of that restructuring, that they’re not the ones who are taking all the hits and others who in the past have enjoyed a lot more of the benefits of the auto industry somehow aren’t being affected. I think all shareholders are going to have to be — play a part in this process."

Obama also said a ‘bold’ economic recovery plan was needed, but declined to give an estimate of how much it would be.

-Sunlen Miller

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