Commentary: Automakers want a piece of bailout pie

This editorial appeared in The Macon Telegraph.

While the incoming First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Laura Bush were chatting and inspecting closet space, the two principals, President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama, were getting to know each other too.

When the two men finished their pleasantries they discussed the American landscape that is all but locked in an official recession. The president's party, which had control of the House and Senate when he took office, is in shambles after an election where Republican candidates refused to be seen with the 43rd president. More financial turmoil seems certain before he leaves office.

President Bush has decided to oppose aid to the Big Three automakers, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Obama, on the other hand, wants to help Detroit. The companies have been hammered by diving sales figures and the slowing economy, but more than that, they are also victims of their own misplaced strategy. For years the companies have fought higher-mileage requirements, saying it would cost them too much to invest in the technology to squeeze extra miles out of their vehicles. Competitors, mainly Japan, took another road, and that highway has led them to the top of the sales heap as the profitable full-size SUVs and trucks fell out of favor when gas hit $4 a gallon.

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