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Archive for Tháng Mười Hai 4th, 2008

Entry for December 04, 2008

Posted by hoangtran204 trên 04/12/2008

Phải nhìn nhận rằng những nhân vật lãnh đạo ở Mỹ biết làm việc và có tinh thần phục thiện khi có ai chỉ trích những lầm lẫn của họ.

Hồi đầu tháng 11-2008, 3 tổng giám đốc của 3 công ty xe hơi GM, Ford, và Chrysler ra điều trần trước quốc hội để xin mượn tiền (phải trả tiền lời) của chính phủ để có thể sống sót qua thời đại khó khăn, xe mới làm ra bán ít người mua vì có cuộc khủng hoảng tài chánh nên ngân hàng trở nên cứu xét chặc chẻ, làm giảm bớt số lượng người mượn tiền mua xe,vì vậy đã hơn một năm nay, tháng nào các công ty xe hơi cũng lỗ ít lắm lá 500 triệu đến 2 tỉ đô la vì phải trả lương cho công nhân viên và trả tiền các phúc lợi khác dành cho họ.

Khi về thủ đô, cả ba tổng giám đốc cùng phái đoàn kế toán, trợ lý đi 3 phản lực cơ riêng và dự định sẽ trở về lại tiểu bang Michigan cách thủ đô 3 giờ máy bayđể làm việc. Không ngờ báo chí báo tin cho quốc hôi biết là các vị nầy xử dụng máy bay của công ty. Ngay lập tức, các dân biểu quốc hội nói như mắng vào mặt của 3 tổng giám đốc, và hỏi rằng nếu hãng xe thiếu tiền sao cả ba ông còn dùng phản lực cơ riêng để đi? Chưa hết, các dân biểu và nghị sĩ không đồng ý cho mượn tiền ngay, mà đòi hỏi cả 3 tổng giám đốc về thảo lại kế hoạch cho biết nếu có được tiền thì kế hoạch làm việc của họ như thế nào để vực dậy công ty, tái quản lý ra sao, kế hoạch sản xuất xe mới sao cho cho phù hợp với nhu cầu tiết giảm nhiên liệu và giảm ô nhiễm môi trường, làm thế nào để cải tiến những mâu thuẩn về quyền lợi với nghiệp đoàn công nhân xe hơi hơn 2.5 triệu người…Sau cùng, quốc hội cho biết họ sẽ tái nhóm họp vào đầu tháng 12/08, và đánh tiếng cho các hảng xe biết là các tổng giám đốc phải trình cho quốc hội các kế hoạch chi tiết hơn khi tái điều trần vào dịp cuối năm nầy và phải trả lời các thắc mắc của quốc hội.

3 ngày trước khi gặp gỡ, các tổng giám đốc đã đệ trình trước cho các dân biểu và thường nghị sĩ đọc các kế hoạch của 3 hảng xe.

Ngày hôm nay, trên truyền hình mọi người nhìn thấy 3 tổng giám đốc khi đến họp ở thủ đô đã có thái độ rất phục thiện. Họ không dùng phản lực riêng. để đến thủ đô. Và mọi người nhìn thấy 3 tổng giám đốc mặt mày vui vẻ lái 3 chiệc xe hơi chạy bằng điện, rời khỏi xe, trả lời báo chí vây quanh và rồi ghé vào quốc hội để tham dự cuộc điều trần. Họ hoàn toàn có thái độ phục thiện để gây cảm tình với các dân biểu và thượng nghị sĩ quốc hội trước khi điều trần xin mượn tiền. Tuy vậy, khi vào họp, các tổng giám đốc trình bày kế hoạch, quốc hội lằng nghe, và hỏi các tổng giám đốc những câu hỏi rất

Mấy hôm trước, tổng giám đốc của công ty Ford đã tuyên bố với báo chí là công ty đã bán 5 máy bay phản lực của công ty và kể từ nay khi đi đâu, họ sẽ không xử dụng máy bay riêng nữa và thay vào đó sẽ mua vé máy bay như những người dân thường. Đồng thời, tổng giám đốc hãng Ford cho biết, ông sẽ làm việc trong năm 2009 với mức lương 1 đô la/ 1 năm để mượn tiền cứu hãng Ford. Ông cho biết, tất cả các nhân viên quản lý sẽ bị giảm lương, và không một ai được tăng lương trong năm 2009. Thêm vào đó, hội đồng các giám đốc và tất cả các quản lý sẽ không được nhận tiền thưởng trong năm 2009. Các công nhân cũng không được tăng lương. Chủ tịch công đoàn xe hơi cho biết ông sẽ không đốc thúc các công ty trả các khoảng tiền phúc lợi dành cho công nhân, thay vì đó hãy tập trung nổ lực hợp tác giữa công đoàn và ban giám đốc để thoát khỏi khó khăn hiện nay.

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Obama hòa giải, bổ nhiệm các đối thủ chính trị và gây thiện cảm với đảng phái đối lập.


Hôm nay, còn hơn 6 tuần nữa mới đến ngày nhậm chức, nhưng TT tân cử Obama thật sự đã làm việc rất hăng hái kể từ ngày 9/11 cho đến nay. Chỉ vài ngày sau khi thắng cử TT (4/11/08), Obama đã chọn vị thư ký để giúp việc (chánh văn phòng phủ TT), chọn cố vấn chính trị, và nhận lời mời đến gặp TT Bush và thăm tòa Bạch Ốc vào ngày thứ Năm tiếp đó.


Sau đó, Obama trở về lại Chicago, tiếp tục tuyển chọn và ra mắt bộ trưởng Tài Chánh mới (Tim Geithner, một người gôc Do Thái), cố vấn kinh tế tòa Bạch ốc (Larry Summer, cựu hiệu trưởng đại học Harvard, cựu bộ trưởng tài chánh của Bill Clinton), đánh tiếng mời Robert Gate thuộc một đảng đối lập tiếp tục nắm giữ bộ quốc phòng. (Tất cả những người mà Obama tiến cử đều phải thông qua sự chất vấn và sự bỏ phiếu đồng ý của quốc hội sau ngày 20/1/2008.)

Khi trả lời một cuộc phỏng vấn của đài truyền hình hồi cuối tháng 11, Obama

đã nói cho bà Barbara Walter biết là các khó khăn về tình hình tài chánh và kinh tế hiện nay đã làm ông rất lo lắng. Ông thú nhận là các vấn đề ấy đã làm ông không ngũ được và đánh thức ông dậy vào lúc nửa đêm để lo nghĩ tìm phương pháp giải quyết. Hiện tại, Obama nói rằng ông rất nóng lòng đảm nhiệm công việc, nhưng luật pháp Mỹ chỉ cho phép nước nầy chỉ có một tổng thống mà thôi. Ông cho biết trong thời gian từ đây cho đến 20/1/09, TT Bush đang làm việc khẩn trương để bàn giao nhiệm vụ và vẫn theo dõi sát nút các biện pháp đối phó với cuộc khủng hoảng tài chánh của Henry Paulson bộ trưởng tài chánh và Benjamin Bernanke thống đốc hệ thống ngân hàng dự trử liên bang.


Vì nhận được tài năng to lớn và uy tín của các cựu đối thủ, Obama đã chọn họ vào đứng trong nội các chính phủ của ông để lèo lái đất nước. Thứ Hai tuần này, ông đã chọn bộ trưởng ngoại giao (bà Clinton) là người cựu
ối thủ cũ từng chỉ trích ông rất gay gắt trên hệ thống truyền thông. Có lần, bà Clinton đã nói rằng: “Obama, ông thật là đáng hổ thẹn khi nói thế…”. Obama cũng đã chọn một cựu đối thủ cũ (Richarson) làm bộ trưởng thương mại. Hôm nay, Obama cũng đã gọi phone chào hỏi các dân biểu quốc hội thuộc đảng đối lập để làm quen và mong họ sẽ ủng hộ các chính sách do ông đề ra sau khi ông nhậm chức vào ngày 20/1/2009.

Chuyện ngộ nghĩnh xẩy ra hôm nay khi Obama gọi phone thăm một dân biểu đảng đối lập. Chuyện như sau, một trợ lý của Obama gọi vào cell phone của bà dân biểu Ileana và báo tin là có TT Obama gọi cho bà, khi Obama lên tiếng tự giới thiệu, bà trả lời rằng “xin lỗi, nhưng tôi nghĩ đây là một trò đùa của một trong những đài phát thanh từ vùng phía Nam của Florida từng nổi tiếng về cú đùa dai nầy” Bà đã tin tưởng là ai đó đùa giỡn vì bà không bao giờ nghĩ rằng TT tân cử Obama sẽ đích thân gọi phôn cho một dân biểu. Thế rồi bà đã và cúp điện thoại. Obama nhờ chánh thư ký riêng của ông là dân biểu Emanuel nói chuyện. Emanuel nói: “Ileana, tui không tin là bà đã cúp cú gọi phôn của tổng thống tân cử Obama…” Bà Ileana cũng không nhận ra giọng nói của Emanuel, một dân biểu quốc hội như bà, nhưng ông nầy thuộc đảng đối lập, vì vậy bà đã trả lời: “Tôi không tin cú phôn đó là hợp lý” (của Obama) và bà lại cúp phôn. Một lát sau, bà Ileana nhận được cú phôn thứ ba từ dân biểu chủ tịch tiểu bang đối ngoại Hạ Viện Berman, ông nầy nói:” Ileana bà đã thật sự cúp cú gọi phôn từ TT tân cử Obama…

Chỉ một chút sau đó, phôn của bà lại reo vang và lần nầy Obama nói chuyện với bà. Obama nói: “thật là vui khi bà đã cúp 2 cú gọi phone của tui”. Bà nầy trả lời rằng đài phát thanh ở phía Nam tiểu bang Florida vẫn thường làm chuyện đùa ấy. Obama trả lời là các đài phát thanh ở Chicago cũng gọi phôn đùa như thế hoài. Kế đó bà nầy chúc mừng Obama đắc cử và hứa hẹn sẽ ủng hộ Obama vào năm 2009. Bà cũng giới thiệu Obama gọi phôn thăm thượng nghị sĩ Bob Menendez và dân biểu Albio Sire cả hai đều thuộc đảng dân chủ của tiểu bang New Jersey để thảo luận về vấn đề Cuba.

(còn tiếp)

1./ http://nymag.com/news/politics/powergrid/52428/?imw=Y&f=most-viewed-24h10
2./http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Bernanke

Ros-Lehtinen hangs up on Obama. Twice.

The Crypt Wed Dec 3,

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Để gây dựng một thế đứng trong chính trị_nhờ bạn học trợ giúp

School buds: 20 Harvard classmates advising Obama

Carrie Budoff Brown Carrie Budoff Brown Fri Dec 5

As Barack Obama puts together his administration, more than 20 Harvard Law School classmates dot the ranks of his transition team — solidifying the Crimson connection as his most enduring, yet least-known, personal network.

Eyeing the presidency as a freshman senator, Obama turned to his classmates first for their high-level contacts, and then to help raise campaign cash. Now, they’re putting their day jobs on the backburner to help their friend build a government.

“If you think about the progression of the president-elect’s national career, initially he didn’t have a national network of people who he could call on,” said Cassandra Butts, general counsel for the transition. “The Harvard group was helpful on that front — helping him make introductions on policy, political and financial fronts.”

Besides Butts, other top Harvard grads around Obama include Chris Lu, who will serve as Obama’s liaison with Cabinet departments; Tom Perrelli, who works on the Justice Department transition team; and Julius Genachowski and Michael Froman, who sit on the 12-member Transition Advisory Board.

Turning to decades-old personal relationships is nothing new for presidents. But the depth of Obama’s Harvard ties is notable, potentially outstripping the levels seen during alum John F. Kennedy’s administration, said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. “The numbers seem very large to me,” he said.

Harvard was one of just three major touchstones for Obama at the beginning. The world of Chicago politics produced his most influential advisers, including chief campaign strategist David Axelrod and businesswoman Valerie Jarrett. Obama also relied on Washington veterans from his Senate office.

But it’s the Harvard relationships that reach two decades back, forged during a popular constitutional law class, at the financial aid counter in Pound Hall, in Butts’ kitchen during a dinner party, through long nights at the Harvard Law Review. As distance separated them, Obama was the one to try to stay in touch — penning personal letters in the days before e-mail, picking up the phone to congratulate a friend on the birth of a child.

Still, the Harvard chapter of his life wasn’t the one highlighted on the campaign trail, where Republicans attempted to cast Obama as an elitist. In the gauzy details of biography, he was the son of a single mother who gave up cushy corporate jobs to work the Chicago streets as a community organizer — not the product of Harvard and Columbia University, where he attended college.

Yet now, as Obama stitches together a government, the Harvard crew is taking a prime role. They get up early and go to bed late at night, spending the hours in between sifting through resumes, providing legal advice, and receiving briefings on the inner workings of a vast federal bureaucracy.

The network, although loose, looks like the cross-section of a tree trunk, with a small group of the oldest friends occupying the innermost ring.

Butts, the transition general counsel, bonded with Obama as they filled out the financial aid forms guaranteeing years of debt for their Harvard education. As a Washington operative, Butts would later connect Obama to key figures such as Dick Gephardt during the infancy of his national political career. On the presidential campaign, she served as a domestic policy adviser.

At Harvard, Butts was moot court partners with Perrelli, who first met Obama at the dinner party and served as his managing editor on the Harvard Law Review. Perrelli, a Washington lawyer who had never been a fundraiser, would go on to collect more than $500,000 for Obama’s presidential campaign. He is no
w part of the Department of Justice transition team.

“We have all been friends together, and we found a common enterprise through Barack,” Perrelli said.

Perrelli occupied seat 151 of professor Laurence Tribe’s constitutional law class in the fall 1989 semester — just a few feet away from Obama (seat 26) and two others who would prove vital to his ambitions: Julius Genachowski (93) and Michael Froman (103).

Froman, a managing director at Citigroup, would later introduce Obama to Robert Rubin, the former treasury secretary who became a key adviser. Genachowski would become a technology policy adviser. Both men now serve on the 12-member transition advisory board.

Genachowski also raised more than $500,000 in the past two years. Froman, who bundled $50,000 in contributions for John F. Kerry in 2004, brought in more than $200,000 for Obama.

Another key figure is Lu, who lost touch with Obama until he arrived in the Senate. Obama hired Lu as his legislative director, then as the executive director of the transition. Lu was announced last month as the Cabinet Secretary-designate, the liaison between the White House and the heads of executive departments.

Just beyond this innermost ring are more than a dozen classmates whose years at Harvard overlapped with Obama’s and who are also working for the transition. More are providing counsel on an informal basis.

If Bill and Hillary Clinton heightened the mystique of Yale Law School in the 1990s, Barack and Michelle Obama, who earned a Harvard law degree three years before her husband, appear poised to do the same for their alma mater in the new administration. In addition to Obama’s former classmates, dozens of people with Harvard ties can be found working on the transition.

Yale University, which consistently edges out Harvard in law school rankings, counts several alumni among those assisting Obama, as do dozens of public and private universities, including Ohio State; the University of California, Berkeley; and Georgetown. But their numbers do not match those from Harvard, according to a Politico review of transition team lists.

Others are in the wings. The Harvard Law Record, a weekly paper produced by law students, lamented the school’s popularity in an editorial last month headlined, “Obama’s gain is Harvard’s Drain. Exodus to D.C. threatens Cambridge quality.”

Singling out the potential loss of the dean, Elena Kagan, who has been mentioned for a Justice Department post, the paper wrote: “It is with a mix of enthusiasm and regret, therefore, that we anticipate the Crimson tide about to engulf the White House and Capitol Hill.”

David Dante Troutt, a professor at the Rutgers School of Law-Newark, met Obama during their first year at Harvard, where they shared the same class section and cigarette breaks. “We were both skinny and cold and full of tobacco outside the buildings during the Cambridge winters,” he said.

Troutt said he knows about a half-dozen fellow classmates who have tried to volunteer their services to Obama, but couldn’t be accommodated.

“There is almost a un-Harvard-like desire to contribute collectively to whatever it may be,” said
Troutt, who is dabbling on policy issues on an informal basis. “It can be a little tough sometimes for high-achieving folks to bask in another’s great achievement. There were many people who had political ambitions out of that class. … Barack has received an outpouring of support which is uncharacteristic in its breadth and its strength.”

Is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen a little paranoid?

Maybe.

On Wednesday, the Republican congresswoman got a call from President-elect Barack Obama, didn’t believe it was him, and hung up on him. Twice.

According to Ros-Lehtinen’s flack Alex Cruz, the congresswoman received the call on her cell phone from a Chicago-based number and an aide informed her that Obama wanted to speak to her. When Obama introduced himself, Ros-Lehtinen cut him off and said, “I’m sorry but I think this is a joke from one of the South Florida radio stations known for these pranks.” Then she hung up.

Moments later, Obama tried again, this time through his soon-to-be chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

“Ileana, I cannot believe you hung up on the President-Elect,” Emanuel said. And then–yes, you know what’s coming–she hung up on Emanuel saying she “didn’t believe the call was legitimate.”

A short time later, Ros-Lehtinen received an urgent call from Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who informed her that she indeed hung up on Obama.

So, Obama tried again and this time he was successful. (Phew!)

“It is very funny that you have twice hung up on me,” Obama said. Ros Lehtinen responded by telling Obama that radio stations in South Florida always make these sorts of jokes. Obama said similar pranksters reside in Chi-town.

“You are either very gracious to reach out in such a bipartisan manner or had run out of folks to call if you are truly calling me and Saturday Night Live could use a good Obama impersonator like you,” Ros-Lehtinen joked with the president-elect.

Ros-Lehtinen then congratulated Obama on his victory and pledged to work together on behalf of all Americans. She also asked Obama to call Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Albio Sire (D-NJ) to discuss Cuba policy.

Here’s hoping they don’t hang up on him.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081203/pl_politico/26780_1

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Another former rival joins Obama cabinet

Published: December 4, 2008

CHICAGO: At some point during the long series of Democratic debates last year, Bill Richardson came to realize he was not exactly the center of attention. Most of the questions were going to the star candidates, and he began tuning out.

So when a moderator
turned to him with a question while he was not listening, Richardson panicked – until the candidate next to him saved him.

“Katrina!” Barack Obama whispered. “Katrina!” Richardson launched into his spiel on the hurricane that ravaged New Orleans. “He could have thrown me under the bus,” he later recalled, “but he stood behind me.”

Obama stood with him again on Wednesday as he announced that he would make Richardson secretary of commerce.

It has been a tumultuous journey for Richardson to this point, from the nation’s most prominent Hispanic leader to an afterthought on the presidential campaign trail, from a target of the angry Clinton camp to the cabinet of the winner. His destination proved not to be the presidency, as he had hoped, nor the vice presidency or even secretary of state. But Obama said it was not a consolation prize, either.

“Well, commerce secretary is a pretty good job, you know,” he said with Richardson beside him on Wednesday. “It’s a member of my key economic team that is going to be dealing with the most significant issue that America faces right now, and that is how do we put people back to work and rejuvenate the economy.”

Richardson is the third person who lost to Obama in the Democratic primaries to join the nascent administration, after Senator Joseph Biden Jr., the vice president-elect, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, tapped for secretary of state. It could get a little uncomfortable in the Cabinet Room when Richardson looks across the table at Clinton, whose husband appointed him to high office only to see him endorse Obama instead of her last spring.

In the end, though, she got the job that he badly wanted, so she can afford to move on. Certainly, Richardson sounded ready to do so on Wednesday. “There are some who speak of a team of rivals,” he said. “But I’ve never seen it that way. Past competitors, yes. But ‘rivals’ implies something harder edged and less forgiving.”

Richardson’s path to the Obama cabinet has been long and winding.

After being elected to the House in 1982, he earned a reputation as a diplomatic troubleshooter parachuting into danger zones to rescue hostages or negotiate deals. President Bill Clinton gave him two cabinet posts, ambassador to the United Nations and later secretary of energy. Richardson then went home to win the governorship of New Mexico.

Along the way, he became known for a gregarious energy as well as a taste for the limelight. After leaving the cabinet, he lined up 23 paying appearances, many of them corporate, and when he ran for governor, he set a Guinness Book world record by shaking 13,392 hands in eight hours. In his memoir, he agreed with the 1992 Almanac of American Politics, which called him “an ambitious and often pushy politician who has sometimes taken impolitic stands for no apparent reason except the conviction that they were right.” George magazine, less kindly, ranked him a top-10 “publicity hound.”

Richardson’s tenure at the Energy Department was marred by reports of security lapses in nuclear laboratories. During one contentious hearing, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia told him “you would never again receive the support of the Senate of the United States for any office to which you might be appointed.”

Al Gore passed him over for vice president in 2000. After dropping out as a presidential candidate – his campaign went nowhere – Richardson grew a beard, the same act of defiance Gore chose after his own razor-thin loss in 2000. As Richardson decided whom to endorse, the Clinton camp believed he was holding out for a promise of appointment as secretary of state. When he went for Obama, James Carville, the Clinton adviser, compared him to Judas.

Richardson denied any crass motives, writing in The Washington Post that he backed Obama because “he has the judgment, temperament and background to bridge our divisions as a nation.” He denounced the “political venom” of Carville.

Hispanic leaders lobbied on behalf of Richardson, 61, arguing that Hispanic voters were a vital part of the winning coalition. During their appearance Wednesday, Obama said he had picked Richardson because of his deep experience, not his ethnic heritage, but vowed to produce a diverse team. He has his eye on Representative Xavier Becerra of California for U.S. trade representative.

“I think people are going to say this is one of the most diverse cabinets and White House staffs of all time,” Obama said. “But more importantly, they’re going to say these are all people of outstanding qualifications and excellence.”

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/04/news/transition.php

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U.S. autoworkers’ union pledges to make concessions

Published: December 4, 2008

DETROIT: A day before the three Detroit automakers return to Washington to again ask for a U.S. government bailout, the United Automobile Workers union took its turn in promising cuts and concessions as part of a concerted effort to win the support of lawmakers.

The UAW president, Ron Gettelfinger, said the union would suspend its jobs bank, which requires carmakers to keep paying laid-off employees, and would consider changes to its labor contracts. The union has also agreed, Gettelfinger said, to delay the payments that the automakers must make to a new retiree health care fund called a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, or VEBA.

The announcements came as the Detroit chief executives prepared to make a second plea for U.S. government assistance at a House hearing on Thursday. The Senate holds a hearing on Friday. On Tuesday, the car companies submitted plans detailing why they needed government-backed loans and how they would use the money.

Together, the three Detroit companies are asking for $34 billion in aid, a significant increase from the $25 billion request the automakers made to Congress two weeks ago. The increase is based, Ford’s chief executive, Alan Mulally said, on the fact that Democratic leaders told the companies to base their revised loan requests on economic conditions.

Those conditions are getting steadily worse. On Tuesday, the industry reported that overall sales sank nearly 37 percent in November from the same period a year earlier.Part of the reason the money went up is that we gave them a range of what might happen with the economy and also with the industry,” Mulally said. “It shows that we’re not focused on just one base line plan, but also what if it did get worse.”

GM said it needed $4 billion this month merely to survive into 2009 and another $14 billion after that. The company plan calls for more plant closures and job cuts, along with the sale or elimination of four brands. Chrysler, which is requesting $7 billion, also said it could collapse soon without aid. Ford asked for a $9 billion line of credit but said it did not expect to access that money unless the economy worsens or a rivals fails.

At a news conference, Gettelfinger said that the UAW would be open to modifying the four-year contracts that it signed in 2007 but not to completely restarting negotiations. Changes could include cuts to wages, health care or other benefits, though he did not give details, and would require approval from union members, but
the jobs bank suspension does not.

About 3,600 workers currently receive benefits under the jobs bank program, which the automakers created in the 1980s to win union approval for productivity improvements. The automakers have played down the need to eliminate it, but industry critics often cite it as a symbol of inefficiency for Detroit.

“The jobs bank has become a sound bite that people use to beat us up,” Gettelfinger said, who will join the auto executives at congressional hearings starting Thursday. “It’s become a lightning rod that takes away the focus from what the real issue is, and the real issue is the backbone of America.”

Mulally warned in an interview that a failure of GM or Chrysler could also drag down Ford and countless dealers and suppliers. But he said that he was under no illusion that Ford could survive a bankruptcy filing by either of its cross-town Detroit rivals.

“If one of the major automobile companies should seek bankruptcy protection,” he said, “it could easily drag the entire industry into bankruptcy, which we think would be terrible for the U.S. economy as well as for the industry.”

Mulally said Ford needed a line of credit in case the automotive market — already the worst in 15 years — continues to deteriorate.

“If despite everything that we’re doing as a country to arrest this recession, that things still get worse, we at Ford might need a bridge loan,” he said.

Congressional leaders are reviewing the plans ahead of hearings on Thursday and Friday.

“I think it is plain that Chrysler and General Motors cannot survive without government help,” Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Fox. “The need now is to take a detailed look at their plan to see if they have a realistic opportunity to survive.”

Democratic leaders, who have been supportive of a bailout from the start, signaled their support of the new plans after they were filed, though many other lawmakers were waiting until the hearings before making a decision.

A big question before Congress is where the money will come from to finance the loans.

The Bush administration has declined to provide financing from the $700-billion financial rescue plan set up to help banks and other Wall Street institutions. The administration has suggested that aid for the automakers come from a $25 billion loan program for fuel-efficient vehicles already approved by Congress.

However, Democratic lawmakers have balked at using that loan program for anything other than to encourage the development of cleaner cars and trucks.

Mulally said that the automakers were not taking sides on where the money originates, only that it is approved before GM or Chrysler run out of operating cash.

President-elect Barack Obama praised the three companies for producing “a more serious set of plans” to save the industry, but withheld judgment about how he thinks the U.S. government should help at this point.

At a news conference announcing his commerce secretary, Obama said he had not seen the plans but pronounced himself pleased that the manufacturers were being more responsive to the concerns that he and lawmakers have expressed.

“When the Big Three automakers came before them a couple of weeks ago,” he said, referring to congressional testimony by auto executives, “they were not offering a clear plan for viability over the long term. And I think Congress was right to say that the taxpayers expect and deserve better than that before they are stepping up to the plate for any kind of bailout.”

Now, he said, the latest plans indicate a seriousness by the auto executives.

“But we should also make sure,” he said, “that any government assistance that’s provided is designed for a — is based on realistic assessments of what the auto market is going to be and a realistic plan for how we’re going to make these companies viable over the long term.”

Obama said he still wanted to listen to more discussion before deciding what he thinks the government should do next. “It’s premature to get into that issue,” he said.

At the UAW meeting in Detroit, union officials described their members as extremely anxious about the prospect of more concessions but at the same time afraid of what would happen if the union did not aid the automakers.

“We’ve helped them before, but it seems like they always come back to us,” said Shane Colvard, chairman of Local 2164 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where GM builds the Chevrolet Corvette sports car.

But a GM retiree, Frank Hammer, said looking to the union for givebacks does not resolve the automakers’ problems and compounds the bad economy.

“More concessions mean more foreclosures,” said Hammer, 65, who worked at GM’s transmission plant in Warren, Michigan. “Concessions are not a solution.”

“We’re all getting smeared with this brush that we’re somehow greedy,” Hammer said. But if pay and benefits are cut, he told a group of reporters gathered outside the meeting, “what autoworker is going to be able to buy their product?”

David Stout and Bill Vlasic contributed reporting from Washington and Peter Baker from Chicago.

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