Susan Helper is the AT&T Professor of Economics at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, and an expert on the auto industry. In December, she co-authored an article making the case for a rescue of the Detroit Three--and then sketching out what such a package should look like. On Tuesday, when Chrysler and General Motors submitted their new viability plans, we asked her to write a follow-up: GM and Chrysler have submitted their plans for getting $22 billion in additional government loans.
General Motors has come to Washington, begging for a $25 billion bailout to keep it and its ailing Detroit counterparts going next year. But nobody seems too thrilled about the prospect. Liberals dwell on the companies’ gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles. Conservatives obsess over all the well-paid union members with gold-plated benefits. And people of all ideological backgrounds remember how they used to buy domestic cars, years ago, but stopped because the cars were so damn lousy.