The CEOs of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler are heading to Washington, D.C. today for the second time to plead for government assistance. The first trip resulted in public relations faux pas. They flew to Congress on private corporate jets, spending much more company money than necessary. This brings to mind the image of someone driving a Bentley to pick up a welfare check. More importantly, they appeared before Congress without a solid plan for improving their companies’ health.
The Big Three corporate leaders got the message. They’re coming back, driving from Detroit to Washington with hybrid vehicles. That moves has made a lot of noise in the new media, but the important part is the plan.
Like the hybrids, the CEOs have made a symblic gesture to reduce their salaries to $1 each per year, but only if they get their bailout loans from the rest of the country. Beyond the symbolism, it’s the plan that’s important. General Motors is offering the most drastic proposal of the three, including a reduction in workfroce by at least one third and reducing the number of plants. Ford wants to increase production of the small Focus, simplifying and reducing the expense of the design.
Are these proposals enough?
The domestic auto industry will most likely get their money. This time around, they’re asking for $34 billion, more than the $25 billion they thought would do the trick last month. They might not get all of what they want, but I don’t see Congress letting these companies fail.