Levin Thinks Bush Auto Aid to Look Like Prior Plan

DETROIT (AP) - President George W. Bush's plan to aid
impoverished U.S. automakers likely will follow the structure of a
previous deal with congressional leaders, according to a Michigan
senator.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin said Monday he expects Bush to abide
by the earlier deal, which would provide loans for General Motors
Corp. and Chrysler LLC to help them survive until March 31.
The House last week passed a $14 billion loan bill for the
automakers that had Bush's blessing, but it was thwarted in the
Senate after Republican leaders and the United Auto Workers
couldn't agree on the timing of wage cuts.
"The president made a deal with the House of Representatives,"
Levin said at a news conference in Detroit. "Once the president
makes a deal, he is not likely to walk away from it."
He said he expected the White House to announce terms of the
plan by midweek, perhaps as early as Tuesday. He also said he
expected GM would get $8 billion and Chrysler $7 billion - the
final $15 billion in the first installment of the $700 billion Wall
Street bailout.
The House-passed bill includes a "car czar" to oversee
restructuring of the companies to make sure they're viable. Levin
said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would in effect become the
czar, and his review of the automakers' finances may be holding up
Bush's plan.
"I think he's probably satisfying himself about the books,"
Levin said, adding that Treasury looked at the companies' finances
during the weekend and is continuing to do so. He said he's
"confident they'll satisfy themselves those plans are based on
solid numbers."
Levin said he's heard that the Bush package might be as large as
$40 billion, possibly for the automakers' credit arms to free up
loans for purchasers.
"It could be because the treasury could be looking at is not
just the funds that were going to go to the operations side of the
Big Three. ... On top of that they may be looking at what has
always been known to be the need on the financial or the credit
side for the Big Three," he said.
Treasury Department spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin said no
decisions have been made on what type of support to give the
industry. Treasury officials are providing regular briefings to the
White House, but she said there was no estimate on when a decision
might be made.
"We continue to assess and review the information that we have
received from the automakers," McLaughlin told reporters in
Washington.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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