Bush says he can't let auto companies collapse

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President George W. Bush says he's offering $17.4 billion in loans to the auto industry because letting them collapse is "not a responsible course of action."

He says the rescue plan will require "meaningful concessions" from the auto companies and others, including labor unions and suppliers. The companies, he says, "must understand what is at stake, and make the hard decisions necessary to reform."

Bush said Friday he ordinarily would let the companies go bankrupt, concluding it's the "price that failed companies must pay." But, he says, "These are not ordinary circumstances." He says letting the industry collapse, amid a financial crisis and a recession, would be irresponsible.

He says there's "too great a risk" that a bankruptcy filing would lead to a "disorderly liquidation of American auto companies" and send the economy into a "deeper and longer recession."

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