Let's be clear. The alternative to government cash for GM is not a dreamy Chapter 11 filing, a reorganization that puts dealers and the UAW in their place, ensuring future success. No, even if GM could get debtor-in-possession financing to keep the lights on (which it can't), Chapter 11 means a collapse of sales and a spiral into a Chapter 7 liquidation. GM's 100,000 American jobs will die. Health care for a million Americans will be lost or at risk. Hundreds of GM's 1,300 suppliers will die. Their collapse could take down Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC, perhaps even North American transplants. Dealers in every county of America will close.
The taxpayer needs protection and an upside. GM's top management may need to go. Government-as-shareholder deserves a big voice. Those details can be worked out. The Detroit 3 CEOs and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger had better tell two critical congressional hearings next week what sacrifices they are prepared to make. But the stark fact remains: Absent a bailout, GM dies, and with it much of manufacturing in America. Congress needs to do the right thing — now.