It won't be as much as they asked for, and there's likely to be lots of strings attached, but if the news reports today are accurate, the White House and Congress should reach an agreement on a loan package for the Detroit Three by the end of the week.
The loan deal, said to be in the $15 to $17 billion range, would likely be supervised by some kind of Washington "Car Czar" ---an individual or a committee---that would be in charge of administering the loan program and ensuring that certain criteria were met as conditions of the bailout: These could be things like limiting executive salaries; freezing bonuses or dividend payments until some or all of the loan is repaid; providing taxpayers with a piece of any profits that might result from the loan, and so on. We should know more of the specifics in a few days.
We're of two minds about this. We're glad to see Washington finally come to its senses, and come to the aid of our domestic auto industry for a tiny fraction of the price of what we're giving a bunch of investment firms holding largely worthless paper assets. On the other hand, we know that Washington can just as easily mess things up with too many regulations, too much red tape and and too much micro-management. So the questions today are:
1. What conditions should the government impose on the automakers on behalf of the taxpayers?
2. Who should be the nation's new Car Czar? Or do we even need one ? The last I heard, we already had something called the D.O.T. . . .