WASHINGTON (AP) - While the Bush administration says it's ready
to step in to avoid an auto industry collapse, several
administration officials say nothing is imminent.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials suggest
there's still time before General Motors and Chrysler run out of
cash. Ford is considered to be in a stronger position.
The most obvious source of help is the $700 billion financial
bailout fund. About $15 billion remains uncommitted from the first
half of the fund. To begin tapping the second half, the
administration would have to first notify Congress. Lawmakers could
block it or put new conditions on how the money is used.
White House press secretary Dana Perino says the president
"would prefer that markets determine the ultimate state of private
firms" under normal economic conditions. But she says allowing a
"disorderly bankruptcy" of one of the Big 3 automakers would
further weaken the economy and prove "irresponsible."
General Motors says it's "encouraged" by the White House's
willingness to consider other options.