Texas Dealers Push for Auto Industry Loans

Dealers cite industry's impact on Texas workers.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    KXAS

    Texas auto dealers said Tuesday the Lone Star State will suffer if Congress does not approve a loan package for Detroit's Big Three.

    Ford, Chrysler and General Motors dealers employ more than 60,000 people in Texas, dealers said.

    "This is not something that is just going to affect Michigan or some other state or city or fat cats on Wall Street," said Drew Campbell, of the Greater Dallas New Car Dealers Association. "It is going to affect all of us here in Dallas-Fort Worth."

    Speaking at Sam Pack's Five Star Ford in Carrollton, dealers said more cars are sold in the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone than in 47 states.

    The dealers said they pay taxes and support local schools with charity, all of which could be threatened if any of the Big Three fail.

    "There is no other entity that has a greater presence than franchise dealers in Texas except for the public school system," Bill Walters, of the Texas Auto Dealers Association, said.

    Pack, who owns three North Texas dealerships, said it's "absolutely imperative" action be taken.

    Bob McGraw, an engine remanufacturer who employs 500 people in Carrollton said he would be forced to close if any of the Big Three failed.

    "So our 500 employees would be out on the street -- that's 500 employees that would no longer have their jobs," he said.

    In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece authored with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was critical of bailouts.

    Perry and Sanford said the federal government would need to go into debt itself to provide the assistance. Washington doesn't have money on hand for any bailout proposals, they said.

    Ford, Chrysler and General Motors appealed to Congress with a retooled case for a bailout as large as $34 billion Tuesday, pledging to slash workers, car lines and executive pay in return for a federal lifeline. GM and Chrysler said they needed an immediate cash infusion to last until New Year's, and warned they could drag the entire industry down if they fail.

    Executives will testify about their plans at hearings on Thursday and Friday.

    New sales figures underscored the seriousness of the situation. U.S. light vehicle sales at General Motors and Chrysler plunged more than 40 percent in November, while Ford's sales dropped 31 percent, battered by an economic storm that has sent consumer demand for new vehicles to lows not seen in decades.

    Democratic leaders have said they might call Congress back next week to pass an auto bailout -- but only if the carmakers' blueprints show the carmakers have reasonable plans to stay viable with the help.

    Making no commitments, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday, "We want to see a commitment to the future. We want to see a restructuring of their approach, that they have a new business model, a new business plan."

    "It is my hope that we would" pass legislation to help the industry, she said.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would try to jump-start debate Monday on an auto bailout measure.

    "We have to make sure we do everything we can to take care of the auto industry," he said. "I hope we can do something."