Experts Say Auto Bailout Critical To Hawaii

Published On: Dec 08 2008 09:42:47 PM HST
Updated On: Dec 08 2008 10:01:11 PM HST
HONOLULU -

Industry experts believe an auto bailout is critical for the Hawaii market and economy.

While many folks are against a so-called blank check from Congress, told a no deal for the Big Three could have a devastating effect in Hawaii.

There's no deal yet, but a $15 billion bailout is aimed to save jobs, provide emergency bridge loans, and clear the way for longer term help for the auto industry.

"The bailout would keep things running smoothly until they do retool those plants," said David Rolf, of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers' Association.

Rolf said bankruptcy to the Big Three would have a devastating affect nationwide, including in Hawaii.

"The auto industry is so fundamental to the employment base and it's really about jobs, jobs, jobs," Rolf said.

Mike McKenna, of Windward Ford, has been in the auto industry for 40 years. Sales are down and layoffs are up. He said he had 100 employees last year. Now, he has 40.

GM and Chrysler requested billions to boost their dwindling cash reserves. Ford is seeking up to a $9 billion line of credit.

"I'm a little jaded because Ford is the only one that has money and it's not that Ford wants a bailout they just want a credit line," McKenna said.

Stricken automakers aren't getting much sympathy from many Americans. Many folks want the Big Three to bail themselves out.

"I believe we should not help these companies that haven't helped themselves the last couple years," said Johnny Cantillo, who opposes the bailout.

"It's not our job to bail them out they've made their money -- now it's tough times it's their own problem," said Roger Thomas, who opposes the bailout.

"I'm just tired of nobody being held accountable for their actions. Everybody's getting bailed out so who's going to bail me out?" said Angie DeAngelis.

Experts said volatile gas prices and the credit crunch led to the auto crisis and buying cars came to a screeching halt.

But some said now is the best time to buy a car. It's a great time to negotiate with auto dealers, and consumers now have the option to buy at factory prices.

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