The government would order a major restructuring of Detroit's struggling Big Three auto companies in exchange for a multibillion-dollar bailout under a plan circulating in Congress.
Skeptical lawmakers are weighing whether to dole out as much as $34 billion in aid to the automakers as the once-mighty companies make their second round of pleas for government help to keep them from collapsing by year's end and potentially deepening an already painful recession.
With several lawmakers in both parties pressing them to consider a pre-negotiated bankruptcy - something they have consistently shunned - members of Congress and the Big Three both were contemplating a government-run restructuring that would yield similar results, including massive downsizing and labor givebacks.
U.S. auto executives were appearing before the House Financial Services Committee for the second time to outline their plans for staying afloat with a government infusion.
"We're looking at a death sentence" for the auto companies, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the Senate Banking Committee chairman, said Thursday, pledging to try to help the Big Three. He quickly added, "I'm not a miracle worker and no one here is."
Maybe Chris Dodd can do for the auto industry what he has done for the mortgage industry. If so, look for him to be driving a lot of Detroit chrome Moskvich for pennies on the dollar and a monthly payment of about a buck-two-ninety-eight.