How Much Should You Get Paid To Build A Car?

Correction Dec. 9, 2008

We said that a government bailout "would provide Ford, GM, and Chrysler with ... a package of loans somewhere in the ballpark of $15 billion." Ford says it is not seeking a short-term federal loan.

The Big Three automakers are visiting Capitol Hill again to seek a bailout for their struggling industry. A repeated criticism has been that auto workers are paid unnecessarily high wages for the jobs that they do. What do you think? Is this a fair or unfair criticism?

Guests:

Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at The New Republic

Harley Shaiken, professor at the University of California at Berkeley

Henry Farber, professor of economics at Princeton University

White House, Congress Near $15B Auto Rescue Deal

The White House and congressional Democrats continued to hammer out the details of a $15 billion rescue plan for the U.S. auto industry, but they appeared to be close to a deal, lawmakers said Monday.

The plan — which is expected to come up for a vote this week — is likely to include the appointment of a government monitor, who would oversee the restructuring of Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

The monitor would be appointed by President Bush.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bailout is expected to help the auto industry survive until spring 2009. But she said the automakers would be required to show they have plans to turn their companies around.

"Come March 31, it is our hope that there will be a viable automotive industry in our country with transparence and accountability to the taxpayer," she said. "We think that is possible."

Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Financial Services Committee, said the remaining disagreements with the White House could be resolved in a few hours.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino also offered encouraging words.

"We've made a lot of progress in recent days to develop legislation to help automakers restructure and achieve long-term viability," she said. "We'll continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to achieve legislation that protects the good faith investment by taxpayers."

The companies would be required to give the monitor access to their financial information, including company records and other data. Company executives would also have to get permission from the government's monitor to enter into business transactions that would cost $25 million or more, reports said.

The measure would provide for emergency loans to flow to the automakers before the end of December.

The "car czar" would have a Jan. 1 deadline for developing criteria to assess the automakers' progress. That person would also have the ability to recall the loans as soon as February if the companies' reorganization efforts were not adequate to ensure their viability.

From wire reports

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