Death knell sounds for US auto industry

Wall Street is in uproar at what will likely be President Bush’s last major decision, just days before the end of his term.

Cornered by vocal demands from unions protesting at the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the auto and allied industries, the US president today unilaterally confirmed that all three major car companies would be propped up by government.

Caught by the precedent of the financial industry bail-out he says he was left with no choice. “I will not stand by and allow one of our historic industries to die. I will not put a million Americans out of work.”

Leading Democrats are incensed. “This is almost an act of treason. It will cost the taxpayer untold billions and all we are doing is postponing the inevitable. We’ve lost the industry to the Chinese anyway. Why put 300 million Americans at risk for the sake of a million jobs?”

There is a rising tsunami of opinion that the ‘dinosaur auto industry’ should be left to die. German car firms have already announced plans to relocate a major part of their production to China and US firms have been struggling to make ends meet for years.

Many say that taxpayers’ money should instead fund investment in new industries, retraining and individual support for out-of-work families whose only source of funds would have been their homes – before the bottom dropped out of that market.

Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman, Princeton professor and New York Times columnist, believes that “the implosion of the auto industry, coming as it does on top of the banking crisis, will plunge our economy into a prolonged recession from which we may not recover.”

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