2010 Detroit Auto Show: From The Outside Looking In Page 5

January 12, 2010
All three U.S. carmakers have several irons in the fire, but the President wants a clear plan before further help is offered

All three U.S. carmakers have several irons in the fire, but the President wants a clear plan before further help is offered

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5. The auto bailout has not caused earthquakes or the apocalypse or the return of *N SYNC

At the risk of opening up a divisive can of worms,  I'm going to go out on a limb and argue that the 2010 Detroit Auto Show is proof that the federal government's bailout of the auto industry -- specifically, its loans to Chrysler and General Motors -- have not been the catastrophe many feared. Have they been the be-all, end-all salvation many others wanted? Probably not. But GM in particular seems to have taken the opportunity to move forward with new developments, new models, and of course, new staff.

Of course, many questions remain unanswered:

•  What would Chrysler and GM have done without the bailout money?

•  Would they have declared bankruptcy?

•  Would they have emerged from the bankruptcy/restructuring process as quickly?

•  Would dealers be in better or worse shape?

•  Although both companies seem to be rebounding, is that due to the loans or to the wider economic recovery?

The list of "what ifs" goes on and on, but most people I know have left the bailout behind. True, there were a couple dozen teabaggers protesting in the cold yesterday --  and significantly more auto workers who came out to protest the teabaggers -- but in all, America seems to have moved on: what's done is done, politicians stink, now what's for dinner?

No, seriously: what's for dinner? I'm starving.

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