Auto Execs Try Selling Congress on Rescue

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CBNNews.com - NEW CARROLTON, Md. - Showing that they've learned a few lessons from their first failed pitch, the CEOs from the Big Three rolled into Washington - not on their corporate jets, but in hybrid vehicles.

They're hoping this time around they'll get a warmer reception from lawmakers who hold the key to unlock potential loans to help the companies stay in business.

Click play for more analysis with Barry Lynn of the New America Foundation following this CBN News report.

But Detroit now says it needs $34 billion - that's $9 billion more than first requested. Without it, they say it could lead to a collapse of the auto industry and even the overall economy.

"We're in a recession but if the industry took a hit, it would affect 4.5 million jobs and it could be another great depression," Chrysler Vice Chairman Jim Press said.

Congress has been reviewing the cost-trimming plans from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler showing the changes they will make to be leaner and more forward-thinking.

Auto workers also offered temporary concessions to keep their jobs and benefits.

"They understand this is not just about them, it's about their communities, it's about somebody else, the mom and pop shop down the street, dealerships out in rural areas. This is about a BIG DEAL!" said United Auto Workers president Ron Gettlefinger.

Industry advocates are trying to make the case that these cars not only represent the automakers but jobs - from the plant worker to the dealer to suppliers and vendors.

They're also trying to change public perception by not calling this a bailout but a loan to preserve America's manufacturing industry.

"If you lose a manufacturing job, you could lose up to seven to 10 related jobs, so it's clearly going to have a ripple effect," Rep. Thaddeus McCotter said.

Proponents say without the plan, sales will likely continue to plummet along with consumer confidence.

"Nobody really knows what would take place on this scale if a manufacturer were to declare bankruptcy. Our customers are concerned would their warranty be honored," said Sam Weaver, vice president and CEO of Chevy Chase Acura & Chevrolet.

Congress is considering whether to tap into the $700 billion federal bailout to help the car companies. But according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, there aren't enough votes.

The bailout also faces a skeptical public. According to a CNN-opinion research corporation, 61 percent oppose the idea of federal assistance.

Meanwhile, the automakers are hoping the road to relief doesn't lead to a dead end.

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