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Ken AshfordEconomy & Jobs & DeficitLeave a Comment

I know, in the scheme of things, when you look at it from a pure monetary standpoint, it isn't a big deal.

But as a matter of principle, it just isn't good:

The CEOs of the big three automakers flew to the nation's capital yesterday in private luxurious jets to make their case to Washington that the auto industry is running out of cash and needs $25 billion in taxpayer money to avoid bankruptcy.

The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.

All three CEOs – Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler – exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM's $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.


Wagoner's private jet trip to Washington cost his ailing company an estimated $20,000 roundtrip. In comparison, seats on Northwest Airlines flight 2364 from Detroit to Washington were going online for $288 coach and $837 first class.

Note to CEOs who want government billion dollar bailouts at taxpayer expense:  Can you at least try to look like your company is having economic hardships?  Or at least share just one private jet?

Keep this in mind when someone tells you that the reason auto industries are going under is because the unionized employees have their pensions….

UPDATE:  Mitt Romney writes a somewhat convincing op-ed in the New York Times entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt":

If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

His point is well-taken, and as the former president of American Motors, Romney should be listened to.

But I don't think the solution is to deny the bailout and let Detroit go backrupt.  Not in these tough economic times.  (By the way, Mitt, good luck with Michigan in your 2012 election bid.  You just lost Joe the Assembly Line Worker).  

Where would the Big Three get the capital to rebuild and restructure?  We're having a credit crunch, if you haven't noticed, Mitt.

The solution is to have the bailout, with strings attached to the bailout.  That's something we didn't do with the monstorous $750 billion bailout of the financial sector.  Or something like this.

UPDATE:  George Will says the same as Mitt.