Commentary: Bailout money should come with conditions

This editorial appeared in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

With the U.S. economy facing its most perilous downturn in at least a quarter-century, and perhaps since the Great Depression, these are extraordinarily difficult times. Correspondingly, extraordinary measures are needed.

One of those critically needed measures is to grant emergency aid to cash-strapped U.S. automakers General Motors and Chrysler.

The consequences of failing to render such assistance could be disorderly and catastrophic bankruptcy proceedings that worsen America's already severe recession, accelerate job losses and decimate a proud industry that long has been a pillar of the world’s largest economy.

Many consumers would be reluctant to buy cars from an automaker in bankruptcy. The White House estimates that failing to help the automakers would cost 1.1 million jobs and further shrink the economy. At the local level, there could be negative impacts on the 2,500-employee General Motors assembly plant in Arlington, as well as plant suppliers and auto dealers.

Congress failed to authorize aid to the industry when Senate Republicans blocked legislation after House approval of a rescue plan. On Friday, President George W. Bush ordered emergency assistance in the form of loans and demands for major concessions from the auto companies and workers. President-elect Barack Obama praised Bush’s action but added a somber warning: "The auto companies must not squander this chance to reform bad management practices."

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.