White House Auto Bailout Plan In Neutral

CBS/ AP) Just last week, on the heels of Congress' collapsed deal to help the ailing auto industry, the Bush administration boldly stepped forward, vowing swift action. Five days later, the White House has yet to announce a plan.

"We're trying to do something that's responsible," White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. A day earlier, Perino was blunter: "We are not going to be rushed into it."

As President George W. Bush's advisers ponder a rescue deal for the auto industry, the administration faces competing pressures from lawmakers in different congressional factions as it reviews its options for a bailout.

Conservative Republicans implored the White House not to use money from the $700 billion bailout for the financial sector to aid carmakers. A leading House Democrat, meanwhile, said the government should secure veto power over the companies' business decisions as part of any aid.

On Monday, President Bush suggested that a bailout package would come sooner rather than later. "An abrupt bankruptcy for autos could be devastating for the economy," Mr. Bush said. "This will not be a long process because of the economic fragility of the autos."

However, that same day, Perino tempered those comments, saying the administration wanted to hear more from all those involved, including key lawmakers and those in the industry. She said concessions need to be made in exchange for a rescue package that reportedly could reach $15 billion for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

"I don't know of an imminent announcement coming from us," Perino said, suggesting that expectations for a quick decision were premature.


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