Bailout Approved: Automakers to Get $17.4B

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WASHINGTON – Citing danger to the national economy, President Bush approved an emergency bailout of the U.S. auto industry Friday, offering $17.4 billion in rescue loans in exchange for tough concessions from the deeply troubled carmakers and their workers.

Allowing the massive auto industry to collapse in the middle of what is already a severe recession "would worsen a weak job market and exacerbate the financial crisis," Bush said. "It could send our suffering economy into a deeper and longer recession. And it would leave the next president to confront the demise of a major American industry in his first days of office."

President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office a week from Saturday, praised the White House action and said that "the auto companies must not squander this chance." He said they must begin "the long-term restructuring that is absolutely necessary ... while also creating the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow."